Re-Imagining Refugees’ Access to Knowledge and Skills From Experts Through Technology

The reality of living in a pandemic can be characterized by a widespread disruption of the status quo as well as noble creativity on the status quo, and many things in between. As the world gets more creative around Covid 19 virus, reasonable interventions by different refugee agencies have been made to ensure services to the refugees. JRS as one of the agencies has explored the use of technology to reach its beneficiaries and to maximize the access to knowledge and skills from experts.

Fr. Kizito SJ (in Nairobi), delivering a Virtual ‘Logic class’ to JRS beneficiaries (Pre-service students) at Arrupe Learning Centre, Maban, South Sudan

On 22nd April this year, Rev. Dr. Kizito Kiyimba SJ, the Provincial of the Jesuits of Eastern Africa had a teaching session with JRS Teacher trainees in Maban, South Sudan.

Earlier on Fr. Kizito had visited JRS Maban and the Jesuits companions working there and in his interactions with our students, the idea of having a session with them was conceived. Fr. Kizito is a great teacher and a philosopher by training with great experience in teaching and hence his love and passion for the class was reignited at the sight of the students.
After deliberation with the concerned subject teacher Mr. Kinaka Michael SJ, it was agreed that Fr. Kizito could teach a sub-unit focusing on the concept of logic and its application in learning and teaching. Due to Fr. Kizito’s tight schedule, his interaction with JRS teacher trainees happened virtually from Nairobi a model that proved to be a great success.

Fr. Kizito’s lesson was very warm, relaxed, and interactive. As a good teacher, he had clear-cut-out objectives, competencies, skills and attitudes that he aimed to achieve by the end of his lesson. Given Fr. Kizito’s conceptual understanding of the society in South Sudan and Sudan, he was able to organize his teaching and learning activities in tandem with the closest experience and context of his learners. The attitudes of peace, cohesion, reconciliation to mention a few were evident throughout the session.

“When we reason logically, we can persuade others because they can identify with something in our speaking or writing.”
- Fr Kizito

His exposition sought to prove that logic as an art of reasoning can persuade different warrying parties to identify with propositions that lead to truth. It is this commitment to the truth that makes dialogue possible. At the end of the session, Fr. Kizito managed to trigger a desire in his learners to set out on a journey to learn and practice critical thinking. The lively arguments throughout the session indicated that Fr. Kizito managed to enhance the thirst for the truth among the learners.

“Without language (‘closed mouths’) you cannot do logic, we use a form of language to build propositions”.
- Fr Kizito

We will continue to nurture these seeds of mechanics of argumentation planted by Fr. Kizito and probably channel such skills towards different discursive spaces among the refugee communities. Mature dialogue based on proper reasoning will definitely have a positive effect on our reconciliation efforts!

Thank you Fr. Kizito for being part of our classroom! Your lesson not only achieved what is set out in the teacher training curriculum but also gave us important lifelong skills. That is education!

Scholastic Kinaka Michael, SJ (2rd from the Left) with JRS Teacher Trainees enjoying some philosophical arguments informally as a follow up on Fr. Kizito’s lesson during evening meal in Maban.

Finally, to all my companions in the mission, I would like to suggest that we can re-imagine our Apostolates in this collaborative kind of model. That is, we can maximize the access to knowledge and skills from experts (Jesuits and non-Jesuits) through technology. Covid 19 disruptions have driven the whole world to these new possibilities fostering creativity. Thus, with technology, we are called to row to the deep. For example, I imagine a skillful theologian at Hekima or the Philippines breaking down the concept of Trinity to our catechumen at St. Mark’s Parish, Maban. What about a JRS teacher trainee (a refugee in Maban) sharing his/her experience with teacher trainees in Mazzolari Teachers College in Cueibet? Or a young talented chap at Arrupe Jesuit University facilitating a youth workshop on the life of St. Ignatius at Luhanga parish, Dar salaam? Who knows, collaborating in the mission in this way may help us to remain closer to our Apostolates and to one another. Ever to love and serve.

Shukran.

-Article by Kinaka Michael, SJ

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JRS East Africa

JRS East Africa

Jesuit Refugee Service, with the goal of accompanying, serving and advocating for forcefully displaced people in Ethiopia, South Suda, Uganda and Kenya.