> Teaching in The Gambia - from Lauren & Dan's Blog
Lauren Rickwood and Dan Langdon are studying
to be teachers at the
Chichester. As part of their
Education Degree Course, they visited The Gambia for three weeks at
the end of June 2011, and taught in three schools there. Lauren had
visited The Gambia on several previous occasions - in particular:
In February 2007 Lauren was a student at
Colliers, a sixth form and adult learning college in Horsham. Joe
Brock, the Head of Science at Collyer's, conducted a series of
science seminars in The Gambia for teachers in upper basic and
senior secondary schools. Lauren and four other Collier's students,
Frances, Kayur, Chris and Charlotte, helped out at these seminars.
of 2007 science seminars]
The following year, in February 2008,
Lauren, Frances, Rosie and Sarah joined Ian, Pippa and Chris R in
The Gambia. The girls visited a number of nursery and lower basic
schools where they helped to teach the younger children with story
reading, artwork and other fun activities. They kept us informed
by posting on the
News Blog, and we have collected
all their posts on this webpage.
For their June 2011 trip, Lauren and Dan set
a blog to tell their story.
convenience, we have put together some of their postings and reproduced a
selection of their photos. Wandifa, Yankuba and Abdoulie, Pageant's
agents in The Gambia, helped with transport and other arrangements,
with Yankuba and Abdoulie getting involved with some of the
Kings Kid Academy
The King's Kid Academy (KKA) is located in Temasu, near Lamin,
to the south west of Banjul. It was founded in about 1996 by a Nigerian missionary
to provide nursery education, relying entirely on
private funding. After several years as a nursery school KKA began a
year-by-year expansion into primary grades, and is now fully
established as a lower basic school. Pageant has been helping KKA
since 2006. [more
information about KKA] Lauren and Dan spent
five days at KKA.
"Today we visited Kings Kid Academy, the
first school of our visit!!! It was very interesting and has
developed a lot over the last couple of years. When we arrived we
walked through a couple of different classrooms and were welcomed
very well. We met with both the pastor for the school and the head
teacher. Both were very enthusiastic about our visit. We had a tour of
the school, looking at all the different classrooms. There are 7
grades, from Grade 1 to Grade 7! We observed Grade 7 who were
studying what the word culture meant in terms their country. This
was really interesting to hear about. It was a great lesson to start
with, especially for Dan, as it gave him more of an insight into the
Gambian way of life."
"After break we visited the nursery, this has
three classes, Nursery 1, 2 and 3. The youngest children (Nursery 1)
were learning their alphabet and learning about shapes. Nursery 2
were learning the days of the week and months of the year. Nursery 3
were also learning about months of the year. In Nursery 1 there were
many excited faces and we are looking forward to going back into
"We were also able to sort out what resources
we could use for possible lessons next week. We have been given a
grammar book to teach English with. We think it is time to ensure our
grammar is perfect! We also looked at the art resources for use in
our 'Scientific art lesson'."
"Before we left, we had an interesting
conversation with the Grade 7 teacher about phonics! He explained
that the children often struggled with blending digraphs (for the
non-teachers, this is when you are putting two sounds together -
e.g. s and h make the sound sh. The children often find it difficult
to pronounce the sh sound and will say the s sound (e.g. sun sine)"
Friday 17 June 2011 - KKA
"On Friday we spent the morning at Kings Kid
Academy. They had prayers in the afternoon. Children start in
Nursery 1 at age 4. We began in Nursery 3 with letters and sounds of the alphabet. They do a lot of
their learning by rote. The children were very well behaved and were
very focused throughout the lesson."
"Next was maths in Nursery 2. They were
looking at addition. The children used bottle tops, collected as
counters, to support their learning. The maths was done orally with
children offering up answers. This lesson finished with lots of songs
and Lauren recognised a few! We had a break with the PAGEANT boys
and Dan tried green tea - which he quickly handed to Lauren! He
couldn't cope with the sweetness!"
"After break we were in Nursery 1 with some
very smiley and excited faces. This class were learning their
letters of the alphabet. They were also beginning to write the
letter a. They had a special song to sing to learn their ABC. We
returned to the hotel via Wandifa's compound. We met Wandifa's
youngest son Ian and Mo Lamin. Quick stop at the supermarket for
vital supplies. Our first dinner at Billy's and they had sold out of
everything expect egg - egg sandwiches all round! with the odd ant
for added protein!!!!!!"
"Today we were back at Kings Kid Academy to
do our first session of teaching! The day started well with a good
breakfast, until we got a phone call from Wandifa - the minibus had
broken down. Luckily due to Wandifa's many contacts we made it to
school on time, via Gambian "bus" and taxi. When we got to school we
were straight in observing science revision. Grade 7 children have
their English, maths and science exams next week. Our knowledge of
consumers and producers is now well up to date!"
Sewing with hessian
"We spent the rest of
the morning observing lessons before being let loose into the
classroom!!!! In our first taught session we were with Grade 5
and we did art with a slightly scientific twist. We used felt
and hessian to create flowers and labelled each part of the
flower. Both the the students, teacher and ourselves had such a
good time that we took up two lesson slots! We felt it was a
very successful first lesson as by the end of the lesson the children could label the flowers and the materials they had been
using. As we left the children asked if we could do some more
<< A finished flower
"This evening will involve drawing monkeys
and butterflies, cutting them out ready for
tomorrow's teaching in the nursery part of Kings Kid. We will be
using the book 'Night Monkey Day Monkey'."
"We spent Tuesday in the Nursery with Nursery
2 and 3. We started with Nursery 3 and were focusing on the
alphabet, and tried to make it as creative as possible. We had all
the letters of the alphabet, one for each child, and using foam,
they could stick this on to create a mosaic effect. The children were
keen to show us their artistic creations. We went through the
letters before moving onto animals. We gave children a selection of
animals stickers, coloured pencils and paper to create their own
masterpiece!! As they were busy creating, we talked to children about
the different animals. As a whole class, we talked about the
different animals from Africa. We finished in Nursery 3 with a
highly competitive game of over-under!!!!"
"After a wet break (the first rain of the
season!!) we moved to Nursery 2. Our lesson was similar to the one
in Nursery 3 but focused on the numbers to 10. Again the children
thoroughly enjoyed creating their mosaics. We read 'Night Monkey Day
Monkey' to the children. This book looks at the differences between
day and night. The children then coloured in day and night monkey
pictures. We finished with another game of over-under and a song!
Making Mosaic Letters
Admiring some beautiful
The under-over game
Wednesday 22 June 2011 - KKA
"Today was our last day at Kings Kid. We observed lessons all day.
There was a lot of revision going on in the top half of the school
and we observed some of this. We also sat in on a French lesson! We
have thoroughly enjoyed our time at Kings Kid. This was a good first
Gambian school for Dan to visit as they are well organised, have
excellent teachers, high standards and lovely children."
Ndow Upper Basic School is in Bakau, about 4
miles west of Banjul City. Ndow UBS had football kit and science
equipment funded by
Hospital students, and two houses
at CH sponsor a student there. In February 2010 Pageant held one its
Microscopy Workshops at Ndow UBS. [details
of 2010 Microscopy Workshops] Lauren and Dan spent two
days at Ndow UBS.
Thursday 23 - Friday 24 June 2011 - Ndow
"We have spent the last 2 days at Ndow Upper
Basic School. This is a junior school with Grades 7, 8 and 9. However, Grade 9
children had left having finished their exams. On Thursday
we sat with Grade 7 and observed many lessons including, PE, social
and environmental studies and English!"
"On Friday we sat with a very lively Grade 8
class. Grade 8 are preparing for exams - so lots of revision. We sat
in a French lesson - which Lauren understood,
but Dan does not understand much French! Oops. The boys were very
keen to talk to Dan about football, Lauren felt slightly outnumbered
until they learned that she supports Chelsea!"
"We have had a good few days in Ndow. We have
visited 2 very different schools and are excited to be going to KMJ
on Monday! Now for dinner at Billy's!"
KMJ Nursery School
KMJ Nursery School is in Wellingara, at the
southern end of Serrekunda, just off the main road to the
International Airport. Pageant visited KMJ in
when Pageant member Tina Boswell carried out an
there. Lauren and Dan spent four days at KMJ.
Monday, 27 June 2011
Lauren and Dan spent part of their weekend
preparing for their week at KMJ. However, on Monday all did not go
"We left at 8.30, on time(!) to arrive
at KMJ and found it was shut today! - a few crossed wires! However, we
met one of the teachers and planned what we would be doing this
week. We also looked at the exams recently taken by the children,
therefore not all was lost. We have a full week ahead, consisting of
art, maths, English and science! We cannot wait for tomorrow but first
we have a dinner date with Yankuba."
"What a brilliant day! We have been at KMJ
doing lots of teaching, starting in Nursery 3! We revised the
alphabet - the children were a little shy at first but soon warmed
up to us. After looking at the alphabet the children decorated
letters using felt, to create a mosaic pattern. Yankuba and Abdoulie
were also rather good at this! We also had a large felt human
template, stuck to a felt tabard and names of the different parts of
the body to stick on. As a class, children identified different parts
of the body. During this activity they were much more lively and
keen to contribute."
"Then we moved to Nursery 2 - it was a similar
lesson but focusing on numbers instead. This class was much quieter
to begin with, but when it came to science and the body they were
very lively and enthusiastic. We had a really good day! The teachers
and children are keen for us to come back!"
Labelling parts of the
Parts of the body
"Today was a day for paint, glitter and more
paint! Our aim for today was to create an 'under the sea' display, as
we have been reading the 'Rainbow Fish'! We started in Nursery 1 -
where children sponge painted the sea and sand part of the display.
They also coloured their own rainbow fish."
"Next to add to the display were Nursery 2.
They sponge painted seaweed and sea creatures. They also learnt
names of sea creatures - they found the word octopus particularly
tricky! During break we put the display together with Abdoulie's help! We think it looks really good considering how few
resources we used."
Reading 'The rainbow
Sponge painting sea
creatures for the display
Colouring rainbow fish
"After break, Nursery 3
started to create their own rainbow fish, which will be
included on the display when finished. We read the 'Rainbow
Fish' again and they finger painted their own rainbow fish using
sparkly silver paint!!! (this was also on Dan's face!) As the
paint did not dry as quickly as we assumed (!) we decided to
re-visit yesterday's science. The children absolutely loved this
resource. It was one of the things bought from donations."
<< Putting finishing
touches to the display
"Today we were back at KMJ and the minibus
was ready and waiting for us!! We started in Nursery 3 where the
children finished their rainbow fish from yesterday. They stuck
sequins to their fish but managed to get them everywhere including
their faces. The children also got to finger-paint a mask each, which
they seemed to enjoy, as it meant getting their fingers dirty! We did
a class photo outside in the courtyard and children got to see the
display they had helped create."
"Next we were in Nursery 2. They also
decorated their own masks by finger painting. However, they were
reluctant to get their hands dirty (at first). Soon enough, paint was
everywhere!! After this we took them outside to do a proper class
photo (with a bench and everything!!). We sang lots of songs
including heads shoulders knees and toes, and the Hokey Cokey - they
found this very exciting!"
"Another great day. The children were much
more confident around us! Now we are really excited for our sports
The finger painted masks
Nursery 2 class photo
Follow my action!!
"Our last day at KMJ - Sports Day! We started
with Nursery 3 who were very excited and all wearing their PE kits!
We split them into 2 teams and set them up as relay races - although
this was much harder to do than you think!! We started with the bean
bag race - they needed lots of encouragement to actually race! This
was followed by the egg and spoon race with some very careful
runners. The boys were much more cautious than the girls. This was
followed by a running relay race and finally the sack race!!!!!! The
children absolutely loved this race and needed no encouragement. We
said goodbye to Nursery 3 and moved to Nursery 2."
"Again in Nursery 2,
more organised teams(!). We did the bean bag race, egg and spoon
race and introduced the three legged race. The children thought
our demonstration for the three legged race was hilarious - they
were also highly amused watching each other. Some children got
the concept of this race, however, some needed an escort (ready
to catch!). Yet all managed to stay on their two legs - or should
we say three. The last race was the sack race - again very well
enjoyed. We left the sports equipment with the teacher to use
again. They promised they would use all resources given to them
to maximum effect. They also said they had learnt a lot from us
and we have learnt a lot from the children and teachers."
Demonstrating the sack
The beanbag race
The three-legged race
"In the evening we met up with Linda, who
works in The Gambia, to learn more about the Gambian curriculum in
lower basic, roughly equivalent to English primary schools. We
learnt such a lot and have a broad understanding of how the
curriculum works in The Gambia. Our evening was finished with
possibly the best Pizza in the Gambia. We went to Sene-Gambia,
"Today we went to visit the little boy we
sponsor. His name is Nuha. He goes to a nursery school in
Jambanjelly, near to his home. As usual Wandifa did a fabulous job
of pointing out interesting aspects of Gambian life. As this is
Dan's first visit to a more rural area, this was particularly
interesting. We got to go to Wandifa's brother's compound to see the
goats! Wandifa insisted we took photos of the goats new bed to show
Pippa! Unfortunately, his brother was out so we only got to meet the
goats! We arrived at Nuha's compound to lots of smiling faces. One
minor problem, Nuha had gone to play hunting for the day. Luckily
his father went to find him on his bike. Wandifa suggested we send
out the search and rescue dogs, like in the police programmes. While
we waited, Dan finally got to play football and Lauren played catch
with the girls. Finally Nuha was found and we had a few presents for
him (a pair of Chelsea shorts and two t-shirts). He was very proud
and put them on straight away!! We gave his parents a small goodie
bag for the whole family and then took lots of family photos. It was
time to head back to spend the rest of the afternoon by the pool,
before the storms set in."
Waiting for Nuha, a
chance for Dan to show his skills
Dan & Lauren with Nuha
Giving Nuha his present
Nuha in his new clothes
"Today was Dan's big day! His locks have now
been braided. We spent the day at Fatoumatta's compound. (this
is the girl that Lauren's family sponsors) Lauren really enjoyed
meeting the family again and had a few presents for them. Fatoumatta
and her mum were really happy with their presents. Fatoumatta's mum
started to braid Dan's hair (which was more painful than he
expected!). Half way through the braiding we were treated to lunch -
chicken domada - it was lovely. (for those who are unsure of what this
is, it is chicken with rice and a peanutty sauce.) Afterwards the
braiding continued and Wandifa decided to have a go on Lauren's hair.
Before we knew it, it was 4 o'clock and Dan's hair was finished! We
had a great day chilling with the family, Yankuba, Wandifa and
Abdoulie. On the way back the two youngest children fell asleep,
this matched how we were feeling!"
Fatoumatta with Lauren
Wandifa in his new
Braiding Dan's hair - in
Dan's braiding - the
finished work of art
Wandifa has a go at hair
"Our last day, we went back to the market to
do some last minute bartering. After we left the market we went back
to the hotel to relax and enjoy the rest of our last day."
"We have had an absolutely fantastic time out
here and have learned lots about the Gambian way of life and our own
teaching! We want to say a big thank-you to everyone who has
supported us and donated money towards resources. We are really
grateful, as were the teachers and children who received them. We
believe they will be used to their maximum potential. We hope you
enjoyed reading the blog."