As an African Leadership Academy (ALA) student, Mariem Bchir worked on developing a teacher training program destined to improving the educational landscape in Tunisia and Rwanda along with Fabiola Aurore and Peace Murerwa, two of her fellow classmates.
Using her personal savings, Mariem went back to Tunisia to work on her training’s pilot: Show Me How You Teach (SHT) where she met a young Tunisian English teacher, Badreddeen, who was newly hired and nervous about the start of his career. Through his participation in SHT, Badr gained helpful feedback regarding his teaching practices, which he used to improve his facilitation skills and grow his confidence. He, later, started an English club at his school in the south of Tunisia to: develop his students’ communication skills and their civic engagement. Badr’s success story served as an inspiration for Mariem to continue her work in teacher training.
After SHT, Mariem took a gap year during which she explored the fusion of education and entrepreneurship by interning with Education for Employment, LEAF Academy, and the African Leadership University. She is a teaching assistant and a student pursuing a degree in educational studies and computer science at Davidson College.
Meanwhile, as a Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (K-L YES) program student, Walid attended a training in Washington D.C. focused on the student-centered model of English teaching. Inspired by the experience and triggered by the need for better teacher preparation in Tunisia, Walid went back home to co-launch the Workshop for Adult Leaders in Teaching English (WALTE) with Noorjahan Jemaa, a YES colleague of his. WALTE reached more than 100 teachers across 8 regions in Tunisia, introducing educators to new ways of approaching student learning.
After WALTE, Walid explored the areas of research, policy, and entrepreneurship as they relate to education at the University of Geneva, the French Ministry of Education, and the African Leadership University. He also worked as a teacher within several education systems in countries such as Turkey and Senegal. Walid is currently an Anthropology and International Studies student at the University of Denver where he is learning about the intersection of education, culture, and international policy.
In 2017, Mariem and Walid joined forces and combined their experiences and research to create LEAPS Academy, a teacher training institution for educators in Africa and the Middle East, with Tunisia as a starting point.