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Teaching in The Gambia - from Lauren & Dan's Blog


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Background

Lauren Rickwood and Dan Langdon are studying to be teachers at the University of 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.
    [
    full report 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 Pageant News Blog, and we have collected all their posts on this webpage.

For their June 2011 trip, Lauren and Dan set up their a blog to tell their story. For your 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 teaching!

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.

Thursday 16 June 2011 - KKA

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"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 that class!"

"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!!!!!!"

Monday 20 June 2011 - KKA

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"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 (1)

Sewing with hessian (2)

Sewing with hessian

A finished flower

"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 art!!!!"

<< 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'."

Tuesday 21 June 2011 - KKA

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"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 letters!

Making Mosaic Letters

Admiring some beautiful letters!

The under-over game (1)

The under-over game (2)

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

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Ndow Upper Basic School is in Bakau, about 4 miles west of Banjul City. Ndow UBS had football kit and science equipment funded by Christ's 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 UBS

"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 October 2003, February 2006 and February 2007. when Pageant member Tina Boswell carried out an Art Project 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 to plan:
"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."

Tuesday 28 June 2011 - KMJ

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"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!"

Mosaic letters

Labelling parts of the human body

Mosaic letters

Labelling parts of the human body

Parts of the body (1)

Parts of the body (2)

Parts of the body

   
Wednesday 29 June 2011 - KMJ

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"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 fish'

Sponge painting sea creatures for the display

Reading 'The rainbow fish'

Sponge painting sea creatures for the display

Colouring rainbow fish

Beautifully decorated rainbow fish

Colouring rainbow fish

Beautifully decorated rainbow fish

Putting finishing touches to the display

"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

Thursday 30 June 2011 - KMJ

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"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 day tomorrow!!"

The finger painted masks

The finger painted masks

Nursery 2 class photo

Follow my action!!

Nursery 2 class photo

Follow my action!!

   
Friday 1 July 2011 - KMJ

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"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 race

Demonstrating the sack race

The beanbag race

The three-legged race

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, Paradios Pizza!"

Visit to Nuha's compound

(Saturday 2 July 2011)

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"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

Playing catch

Waiting for Nuha, a chance for Dan to show his skills

Playing catch

Dan & Lauren with Nuha

Giving Nuha his present

Dan & Lauren with Nuha

Giving Nuha his present

Nuha in his new clothes

Nuha's family

Nuha's family

<< Nuha in his new clothes

   

Visit to Fatoumatta's compound

(Sunday 3 July 2011)

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"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 Arsenal shirt

Fatoumatta with Lauren

Wandifa in his new Arsenal shirt

Braiding Dan's hair - in progress

Chicken domada

Braiding Dan's hair - in progress

Chicken domada

Dan's braiding - the finished work of art

Wandifa has a go at hair braiding!

Dan's braiding - the finished work of art

Wandifa has a go at hair braiding!

...and finally

"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."

 

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