Reflections on International Day of Education (Part 1)
As the year began, I found myself reflecting on the significant impact of the Commonwealth Education Trust (CET) in advancing education.
Investing in teachers through the provision of digital Teacher Professional Development (TPD) has been a central focus and still aligns with our strategic objectives for 2024/25. It’s remarkable to consider how far we’ve come since my journey with CET began, initially as a trustee and later as its CEO.
Since April 2023, we’ve witnessed a remarkable 54% increase in the total number of users on our database. In the year 2023 alone, we successfully engaged nearly 7000 new teachers through our courses, underscoring a robust demand for Teacher Professional Development within the education community.
Our commitment extends beyond courses. We host a monthly free, live, 15-minute, fully certified interactive workshops for our global community. The participation in these workshops has surged by an impressive 104% since their inception.
Personally, I find great privilege in my role, particularly when visiting schools to discuss the impactful work of CET and when encouraging teachers and school leaders to enrol on our courses. It doesn’t feel like it’s just a responsibility; it’s a passion.
During these visits, I am inspired by the diverse journeys that educators share, detailing their paths to becoming teachers and their perspectives on the teaching profession. Hearing about the positive impact they make in their communities reinforces the significance of our collective mission.
One such memorable visits was to my own former primary school in Douala, Cameroon – Government English Primary School, Bepanda. The experience was not only nostalgic but also a powerful reminder of the transformative potential of education, a principle that lies at the core of CET’s endeavours.
When I attended this school in the 80s, it was the sole State Funded English-Speaking primary school in Douala, Cameroon, which is a bilingual country. Back then, lessons were conducted in what felt like makeshift shacks, and the classrooms were cramped.
Returning to the school recently, I was struck by the realisation that not much has changed in terms of infrastructure. While the classrooms now feel adequately ventilated, basic amenities such as functional toilets remain elusive. The impact of rain is evident, with water entering the classrooms and turning the playing ground into a muddy mess.
Despite these challenges, one constant remained—the unwavering dedication of the teachers who showed up for work every day.
Undoubtedly, every learner deserves a qualified teacher, and teachers remain the most crucial in-school factor influencing the learning process.
I had the privilege of meeting the headteacher, Mr. Matthias Mebune. He welcomed me warmly and generously shared insights into his journey to becoming a teacher and the current challenges the school faces. It was heartening to hear that despite the adversities, he remains motivated to enhance the educational experience for his students. Even during our conversation, he seamlessly attended to anyone seeking his attention.
During my tour of the school compound, I felt a strong urge to capture Mr. Mebune’s journey to becoming a teacher. Recognising the importance of sharing his story, I asked if he would be willing to participate in a brief recording, to be shared with our supporters and the broader world. He graciously agreed however he did not say when and politely added, “I will call you when I am ready”.
And so, I waited.
Betty Abeng, CEO, Commonwealth Education Trust.