Peace Corps sending trained people overseas or sending people overseas to be trained?

Every PCV and RPCV knows the Three Goals by heart.  The First:

  • To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women

In 2013, Peace Corps reported the lowest number of applicants in recent history. By far, the largest number of unfilled requests from “interested countries” was

Secondary Education – TEFL/English Teaching — 114

Volunteers teach conversational English, TEFL, or content-based English in middle and high schools. In addition to classroom teaching, Volunteers share resources, develop teaching materials with local teachers and become involved in community- and school-based projects.”

To read the entire list: here is the text:

So what did Peace Corps do?

Did Peace Corps adopt the Teach for America’s model and  revise its training schedule so that selected trainees exited training with a certificate in TEFL?  No.

Did Peace Corps adopt the Global Health Volunteers model and  negotiate a partnership with colleges to place and supervise trained TEFL teachers in Peace Corps?   No.

Did Peace Corps adopt the widely successful military program and offer scholarships or tuition grants to students who would  become TEFL certified and in turn would serve two years in the Peace Corps? No.

What then, did Peace Corps do?  The decision was made that recruiting incentives were the priority, not finding trained TEFL teachers.  From the 2014 Performance and Accountability Report, page 29:(

Development of the TEFL certificate program pilot:

The agency initiated a pilot program in FY2014 to provide English teaching Volunteers with Teaching English Volunteers with Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate upon the completion of their service. This will serve to attract individuals to Volunteer service, build counterpart capacity and student achievement, and provide enhanced career opportunities for returning Volunteers.

I think this characterizes what Peace Corps has become. I do not understand why this has happened. I believe that sending trained people overseas and building friendships through cultural exchanges are not mutually exclusive. In fact the two mission are mutually dependent. For me, this reduces Peace Corps to an government funded “gap year”. The danger is that host country people may be seen as objects, merely a means of broading the education of  young Americans and helping them enhance their resumes.

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