Friday, 13 May 2011

Shall I write about the weather or about my work???

The Centre of Operations

Ok, so I’ve been asked to write about what I do when I go out to schools on these trips. The answer is that it depends....

The latest trip is the first of several that we have planned to one of our remote sectors. As you know, I work at the District Office in Muhanga which is in the Southern Province. This is our ‘centre of operations’ and from here all the plans are made!! Sometimes the plans come to fruition and sometimes they don’t! But this week they did. I will try to give a brief outline of my work programme:
When I arrived I analysed the Examination results for the P6 children in all the schools in Muhanga District. From this analysis I was able to determine which of the 12 sectors needed support.  One of these sectors is the one we visited this week. We have planned a programme of visits and training which will last most of this term. There are 9 schools in the sector and this week we visited 4 of them, we will visit the other 5 next week. Our aim for these first visits is to gather information and to observe teaching so that we can work out what improvements need to be made, and what training we can offer. The next part of the programme is to deliver 6 days of training for every teacher in the sector. The teachers wanted us to do this on a subject by subject basis.  After the training days we will give the schools 4 weeks to try out some of the new strategies, then we will visit each school again to evaluate the impact of the training.
 So that’s the ‘work bit’, now the logistics!! The sector is a 2 hour moto ride from Gitarama and so we decided we would stay overnight whenever we could so that we would cut down on these arduous journeys. A friendly and helpful headteacher has found us accommodation with the Catholic priests in the area. So this week we carried out our first 4 visits, we had safe journeys and decent weather.
One of the schools we visited is particularly remote and the families are very poor. You will see from the photo that they haven’t got proper desks, the classrooms are very old and the floors are just hard packed earth. The children cannot get to school in the rain because the area is very mountainous and if they get wet they can’t get dry and will be more susceptible to illness. The nearest medical centre is a day’s walk away. They may only have one set of clothes (usually their school uniform) and if this gets wet they have nothing to change into. So there are many barriers to learning, but the teachers try very hard in difficult circumstances.

And so we continue, inspired by these dedicated teacher who get paid absolute peanuts – in fact if they got paid in nuts they would be better off!

Love Tricia

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