Best way to have a gap year

Everybody benefits from a little time off – to reflect, to learn, to experience new things. After a year of hiatus, professionals and students alike often discover invaluable truths about themselves and the world. Whether a person is fresh out of university and searching for their life pursuit or a middle-aged person hoping for some reinvigoration, a gap year spent exploring can shed some light on what in life is worth pursuing.

Teaching

Of the many ways to spend a gap year, teaching English is one of the most popular. Teachers — native English speakers in particular — are in high demand around the globe. From Africa to East Asia to South America, taking a year off to travel can be financially feasible for those interested in teaching while travelling.

Finding a teaching gig in a foreign land, whether in a paid or volunteer capacity, is quite easy. Job boards are ubiquitous online. Interviews can be arranged via applications like Skype. Many times, it is possible to secure a teaching job in the destination of choice using the web. For the more adventurous, options increase once a teacher is in-country and available for in-person interviews.

The volume of social interactions afforded by teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) allows teachers to really get a taste of their host country. Many people find the experience so rewarding, in fact, that although they initially may have only planned to stay abroad for a gap year, they wind up settling down as an expatriate, or “expat”.

Because of the increasing interconnectedness created by globalization, travelling for a gap year is more common and easier than ever before. Many developing nations welcome Westerners with open arms as guest workers, both for the economic and cultural advantages that they desire. English ability is a necessity for business growth, and many people in developing nations admire the products of Western cultures such as music and movies.

Spending a gap year abroad, teaching English or simply travelling, can broaden a person’s horizons. Experiences abroad impart new ideas, new ways of looking at the world, and new friends that can last a lifetime. 

Education in Kenya – Be a teacher

Education in Kenya is divided into four segments: primary school (8 years), secondary school (4 years), and college (4 years). 85% of Kenyan children attend primary school, with many dropping out subsequently. Many Kenyans who can afford to study abroad do, with nearly a million Kenyans having earned degrees from the UK, Canada, the US, or other Western schools.

Improving Standards

The Kenyan government has recently invested substantially in improving education in the country. Recent years have seen improved markers indicating success in improving the quality and accessibility of education across the nation. Regardless, Kenyan children still lag behind their counterparts in more developed nations. However, literacy rates and other markers trending upwards provide an optimistic outlook for the future.

Since 2003, public primary education is free. Attendance is mandatory, although not enforced in some more rural areas. The switch to government-subsidized education has enabled many children from poor families to attend schools who otherwise could not afford to. At the end of the 8-year primary schooling, students must take a test called the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination.

Primary education includes basic math, English language reading and writing, and Kiswahili reading and writing, the native language of Kenya. Secondary and university education curriculum expands into more specialized areas of study such as physics, civics, and geography.

As wealth in the African nation has grown in recent years, the number of foreign teachers (specifically English teachers) has grown. When given an option to learn with native speakers, most students and their parents jump at the chance. However, the relatively high pay that these teachers command means that only schools with sufficient budgets can afford to bring these teachers into the fold. Usually, this means private or “international” schools which have more money.

Education is increasingly important to Kenyans who correctly view earning more advanced degrees as a way to earn higher incomes and improve their living situations. As such, students are generally very eager to learn. As opposed to the West, where more comfortable living situations make for more complacent students. A foreign teacher spending time in Kenya will likely notice a significant difference in the motivation of students and willingness to receive instruction.