Teachers revel in Africa


Teachers revel in Africa

AFTER years teaching in secondary schools, moving to a primary classroom is difficult, let alone if it’s on the other side of the world.

Peter and Dianne Biggins however took up the challenge and have recently returned from six months of teaching in the African country of Zambia.

“It’s a bit of a shock teaching primary after teaching secondary for 25 years or something. We have a fresh respect for primary teachers as you’ve just got to have so many strings to your bow,” Dianne said.

Most of the Korumburra community may know Peter or ‘Mr Biggins’, as he held the position of principal at Korumburra Secondary College for 10 years.

“I haven’t taught for 20 years in a classroom because I was in administration for that time so it was an interesting challenge for me,” Peter said.

“We didn’t have a lot of the resources in the early stages, so when we got there it was flying by the seat of our pants day by day.

“Once we had programs in place, that made it more manageable.”

Peter and Dianne’s work in the United Arab Emirates in education landed them the African opportunity.

“In my final year there as a consultant in a school, I met another guy who was working in another school but for the same company and we became good friends,” Peter said.

“Then all our contracts finished and we decided to come home and he got a job as principal at this tiny school in Zambia.

“We came home thinking we were staying home and then we were only home for six months. In that time he said to us that he was trying to recruit two primary school teachers who were fully qualified for two year contracts and he was having trouble getting the people he wanted.

“He asked us to come along for six months to fill the gap and so it would give him more time to recruit more fully qualified primary teachers for the long term. We said ‘yes’.”

Dianne added: “We thought it would be a wonderful opportunity and an exciting place to go as well as a real challenge.

“We enjoy a bit of adventure so we thought for even six months, if things didn’t go well it wouldn’t be a really long time.”

The couple taught in a Zambian copper mining community run by a Canadian mining company.

“There were about 500 western professional people who lived at the camp and about 3000 Zambian people,” Peter said.

“The school we were at was only small, with around 35 students including the kinder.

“There was a native Zambian primary school right next to ours which was quite large with about 500 kids as well.”

Dianne taught the grades 2 and 3 students at the school, while Peter had grades 4 through to 7.

“The students were probably three quarters Australians whose parents were working in the mines but we also had some Zambian, Zimbabwean, Botswana, South African and I had one girl from Laos as well,” Peter said.

“It was quite a good mixture and it was a lovely place to teach.”

The couple didn’t pass up the opportunity to see the wildlife that Africa had to offer.

“We went on a safari where we went to four different game parks and spent two or three days at each one which was fantastic,” Peter said.

“We went to Chobe National Park, the Okavango Delta and Victoria Falls on the boarder of Zimbabwe and Zambia.

“One of the best national parks in the world, South Luangwa National Park, is in Zambia so we spent a couple of night there too which was great.”

Coming home was a good feeling after living on and off overseas for the past few years.

“It’s great to be back,” Dianne said.

“Australia’s the best place in the world without a doubt. It’s great to travel but it’s always lovely to get home and there’s no place like home that’s for sure.

“We also came home to our first grandchild so we’ve spent a bit of time in Melbourne visiting him and the family.”

The pair hasn’t ruled out exploring more of the world just yet though.

“We may travel to South America in the future because we have some friends working in Ecuador and we may even do some volunteer work over there,” Dianne said.

Peter added: “We love travelling in Australia too, so hopefully we get time to go out and do a bit more travelling in the outback and go camping.”

Peter and Dianne are overwhelmed they had the chance to travel while teaching.

“When I finished at Korumburra secondary it was time to try something different and we’ve been fortunate that we’ve had a couple of opportunities come our way,” Peter said.

“We’ve really enjoyed living and working in different parts of the world where you really get to know the people and you realise there’s wonderful people all over the world.

“They have very similar family values as us and just want the best for their kids; I guess that’s what it is all about.”

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Posted by on Aug 28 2012. Filed under Community. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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