Training the master trainers for Tanzania’s lake zone

The training-of-trainers or ‘TOT’ is an important and well-worn concept, not just for BUILD, and not only for theological education, but worldwide and across adult education. In BUILD’s four-fold programme structure it provides the foundation for the work. But how can we best equip those who will go on to train and support teams of trainers?

The concept of ‘master trainers’ is not new or unique: it is prevalent in primary education programmes in the global South, where multi-level, cascade models of teacher training are used to scale up education. But for BUILD it is a fresh idea and one that emerged recently by accident. First, a BUILD trainer was released by a bishop in the west of Kenya to serve as ‘missionary clergy’ further afield in East Africa. In the release letter the bishop shared how they would be delighted if the individual concerned could act as a master-trainer in the BUILD programme more widely. Second, at the Mtumba Consultation described in the March blog, the phrase was then used and emerged as a lead idea to help BUILD to grow teams of trainers to operate across multiple training centres. In other words, to address the question of how can we best equip teaching ‘faculties’ for training centres: trainers who can then lead the training of trainers at those centres, and further multiply the work?

As a result our first ever ‘Training of Master Trainers’ or ‘TMOT’ event took place at the Nyakato Bible College near Mwanza, Tanzania from 4 to 8 April. The intention was to train teams for the two main centres for the new initiative: Nyakato Bible College itself – the northern centre for BUILD training in the Lake Zone; and the Shinyanga Mission and Evangelism Training Centre – the zone’s southern centre. Representatives also came from Kagera Christian Theological College to the west of the zone, which plans to integrate BUILD into its training, and from the Diocese of Biharamulo – which also intends to develop a BUILD training programme.

Selection was key, with those attending not only having prior theological education to their name, but also with significant experience of teaching others at a local level. The challenge was to build on that learning and experience but not to be constrained by it – and by the traditional models of teaching and curriculum the delegates were familiar with. Quite a number had significant experience in teaching at local level but introducing a new model of training was not that easy, particularly on the first day.

In order to achieve the new and renewed learning the training focussed primarily on taking the potential master trainers through Module One, exposing them to the main types of learning unit as though they were learners, and discussing together how best to use them to equip others in context. In addition to that time was given towards the end to discuss the planning and implementation of BUILD training in more detail.

The responses on the last day were encouraging: “all the participants appreciated the place and value of BUILD training model, which lays emphasis and focus on the Bible, on practical theology and on leadership”. In part the event’s effectiveness lay in the presence of the two bishops who are ultimately responsible for the two main training centres: Bishop Johnson Chinyong’ole of Shinyanga and Bishop Zephania Ntuza, the new bishop of Victoria Nyanza: together they “were a huge encouragement”. Their involvement meant a great deal to the participants, “who realised that the program has been well received and endorsed by the senior leadership of the Anglican Church of Tanzania”. The real test, however, will be the training that now emerges from those centres.