Aspiring teachers gain practical experience in Ecuador

Five students at the Ruhr Bochum University (RUB) make the new project "Professional School of International Education" a reality for the first time.

Five trainee teachers and a lecturer from RUB are currently at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE) in Quito (Ecuador). Over a three-month period, the students are gaining valuable experience there to help them in their future professional lives and are also making the project "Professional School of International Education" a reality for the first time.

The aim of the Professional School of Education (PSE) project is to prepare aspiring teachers for everyday working life. More specifically, it aims to nurture skills for dealing with heterogeneity in the teaching environment. To support this, the students and teachers from Bochum are exchanging with PUCE, a partner university of RUB. The students are attending courses at the university and teaching at a school.
For the RUB students, the exchange programme is a unique opportunity to teach in an entirely different education system.

"For RUB students, the exchange programme is a unique opportunity to teach in an entirely different education system. The school at which they are teaching and observing follows a holistic concept which is concerned not just with transferring knowledge. Instead, the school considers itself part of the local community and sees it as the school’s responsibility to also support severely socially disadvantaged families," explains Dr. Dirk Brunke. The lecturer from the RUB Romance Studies department is accompanying the Bochum students in South America for a few weeks.

Besides the partner university and the participating school, he is also very enthusiastic the country and its people. "Quito is a very green city with an unbelievably pleasant climate. Wonderful destinations for excursions – for example snow-capped volcanoes, emerald-green mountain lakes and jungle waterfalls – are within easy reach. I've also been overwhelmed by the endless hospitality. Colleagues at PUCE are really pulling out all the stops and are highly motivated and interested in academic cooperation," he explains. "I also believe this will really nurture the specific spontaneity RUB students need in teaching – the very German, concept-based thinking and long-term planning will really get you nowhere here."

Get involved

RUB students are able to apply for the programme up to 31 March 2022. The Professional School of Education is able to award five scholarships each semester to students who are interested. All Master of Education students at RUB can apply. The RUB is currently cooperating with the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE) in Quito and the University of Oulu in Finland.

The positive experiences are confirmed by Viktoria Konieczny, a student taking part in the exchange. "When we arrived here at the end of January, we didn't know exactly what to expect. Everything was different, in particular the weather! In Quito, we were confronted immediately by the noise, by new faces and by many different experiences. We are the first group on the programme, so obviously to start with everything didn't run smoothly, particularly in terms of the organisation with the university and the school. But once everything got going, that was also fine. Here everything always occurs with a bit of delay and a WhatsApp message. However, our school, the INEPE, is definitely worth experiencing. The university with its different courses is also a change to the RUB."

Viktoria Konieczny teaches English at the INEPE; this stands for "El Instituto de Investigación Educación y Promoción Popular del Ecuador". She explains that "it is also never boring at school. There are constantly new activities or things to discover, and also another form of school to learn about. The pupils are friendly and very curious. They are always wanting to learn more and more about their new English teacher."

For the five students, however, their period abroad is not just all about university and school. "There is also much more to see in Quito and the surrounding area. For example, we spent Carnival in almost 30-degree heat on the beach in Monañita and on the Los Frailes natural beach. Definitely also an experience," says Viktoria Konieczny, describing her stay. Her conclusion so far is also just as positive. "Overall, Ecuador has so far been an exciting experience in every respect. By teaching, studying and travelling you get the broad insight into the culture and the country, but also into the pedagogy and education in Ecuador."

About the PUCE

The PSE manages the programme and believes the South American partner university is perfect for the project. "Because the PUCE is well known globally for integrating resources in the language of origin in regular teaching, this cooperation is particularly beneficial for students on the RUB Master of Education course," explains the programme description.

Cooperation partners

The Professional School of International Education project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

Source: (website of the Ruhr University Bochum), revised by iMOVE, June 2022