Saturday, 2 February 2013

Camel spotting in the URR!

Well what a few weeks it has been! Going on trek, workshops where I felt like I was banging my head against a wall, working hours being changed and changed and changed again, flat tyres galore! Am I glad it’s the weekend...or is it? I am so confused. No-one can change their minds as often as The Gambian government! But more of that later.

Lime and spoon race
Water bucket race
Recently I attended a cluster sports gathering. It was a day where all the schools in each cluster gather together and compete in various sports events, running, high jump (without mat!), long jump, sack races, 3-legged race and such. Also some very interesting ones too, the lime and spoon race, the water bucket race. Girls run 100m with a bucket of water on their head, no holding either. And some don’t even spill a drop...very impressive it has to be said! For once it was very well organised and they kept it going, one race after the other. Even so, I was there for 3 hours and had to leave before the end to catch the ferry back home. It was a really fun afternoon and the kids from each school were having so much fun cheering on their fellow students.

I also had a workshop for an ECD (nursery) establishment I have been working with recently. None of them are qualified teachers (despite what the proprietor tells me) as far as I can ascertain and it showed in the training. They found many of the tasks difficult to complete without a lot of support from myself. I basically used the same format and ideas from Sarah’s ECD workshop which she delivered last year. The difference between the participants was huge. Her participants were very to grasp the concepts and to complete the activities without too much support or input from ourselves, but mine required a lot. I have only a month left and not sure how much more I can help them. I will also be very busy over the next few weeks as GOOD NEWS! I have managed to organise more of my LCM workshops. I have 7 workshops this month, 1 per cluster. I am really looking forward to it and now I can get my cluster trainers from my last LCM workshop involved. I plan to co-facilitate it with them. It will involve a few nights stay in the clusters, which after the last time is not something I am particularly looking forward to, but will cut down on the travelling I’ll need to do. I’ll just look at it as an adventure! Well it will be considering in the last month I’ve had at least 4 flat tyres!

Ok, so I don’t know if you heard the news about The Gambian government (read President Jammeh) introducing a new 4 day week, 8am-6pm Monday to Thursday, with schools and banks and other institutions being free to operate on a Saturday to make up for the Friday if they wished? Well, press release after press release came and said schools “MUST NOT engage students to congregate within their premises for instructions” on Fridays and that “schools will now operate on Saturdays to replace the lost hours on Fridays”. On Thursday this was changed to say that those schools who operate a single shift* can extend their hours on a Monday to Thursday and do not now need to operate on a Saturday if they wished. At the office, we were told we were to work Monday to Thursday and Saturdays. So dutifully, myself and all other officers made our way to the office this fine Saturday morning. However, unbeknownst to those of us who failed to see the news last night, the day these new hours came into effect, another statement was issued stating that schools are now exempt from these new arrangements and will operate Monday to Friday as usual!! Furthermore, banks and other private businesses are still able to operate Monday to Friday aswell! Consistency, that’s what I like to see!! I will leave you to make up your own minds as to what kind of government is in charge of the country. I have my own thoughts but fear of being put in prison forbids me from expressing them!!!

*single shift schools – schools who only have their students attend school in the morning (8.20am-1.40pm).
(double shift schools – schools whose pupils are split between attending in the morning and the afternoon.)

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