PAGEANT - "Education is the future"
Yallal Tankonjala Lower Basic School
Yallal Tankonjala is a small village in the North Bank Division, just off the main North Bank Road about 8km west of Farafenni. Yallal Tankonjala Lower Basic School has a US Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV), Laura Lyons, working there. The Peace Corps does not provide any money for the volunteers to use on school projects, so Pageant has been able to help with some funding for improvements to the library/resource room.
We were really pleased that Pageant was able to help this up-country school, and we hope that we can co-operate with the Peace Corps again if similar opportunities arise. For further information on the activities of the Peace Corps in The Gambia, have a look at their.
Resource Room Renovation
Yallal Tankonjala LBS had a room for storing books and educational resources, referred to as the library or resource room. When Laura arrived at she found this room was not well organised, with items stored haphazardly on the floor and in cardboard boxes, making them difficult to find. The photos 1 and 2 show how this room as it looked when Laura arrived. Laura's first priority was to reorganise the room, bringing in some tables, and labelling the boxes. The improvement is shown in photos 3 and 4.
Pageant gave £485 to the school for further improvements to the resource room. This paid for structural work using local masons, carpenters, welders, and general labourers.
An internal dividing wall was removed, an extra window inserted and ventilation holes fitted with wire mesh. Shelves were built to hold books and other items. When all the building work was finished, the staff came together on a Saturday working party. They placed books and other teaching resources on the shelves, all sorted by category and labelled. They agreed guidelines for use and familiarised themselves with how things were organised.
These photos show the resource room with everything in place - a considerable improvement over how it was before.
Using the Resource Room
Laura sent us a detailed report full of photos about how the renovated resource room was being used by the teachers and children. What follows is a summary of this report:
The renovated resource room has been in use for sufficient time to show the beneficial effects of the improvements on the children's learning experience. The staff have learnt how to organise books and learning materials. They have set up a Library Committee to manage things and set policies. Each classroom has its own small library, and teachers choose books and teaching resources for their class libraries as well as books for their own use. The classroom libraries allow both independent and guided reading, and have resulted in improving literacy. The students can read books during breaks, and also take any book they want home to read. This is eradicating illiteracy in the school, and access to reading material has left students hungry for more.
There is an evolving teachers' reference section in the library/resource room which has teachers' guidebooks and handbooks, literacy instruction manuals, training manuals for any workshops they have attended, and classroom management manuals. The teachers make extensive use of this facility for planning their lessons, and it is becoming a space for professional development. The library also has a large selection of novels appropriate for an adult reading level, so teachers can access books for their personal use and improve their English fluency skills.
Two of the classes, Abdoul's and Isatou's, are good examples of how things work. Most of the pictures which follow were taken on the same day and so give a good idea of how the improvements to the resource room have affected the everyday teaching and learning at this school. With time there will be even bigger, more lasting impacts.
Abdoul Gaye is a second-year teacher trainee who teaches a Grade 4 class. Due to lack of space his class has the room in the mornings and a Grade 5 class uses it in the afternoons. This has created problems, with the Grade 5 students not respecting the Grade 4 books. So Abdoul has found a cardboard box for the library books for his class, which his students pack and unpack every day and keep in the library/resource room when they are not in class. It's a lot of work, but it shows the extent of their dedication. Abdoul has shown great interest and dedication to literacy instruction and has attended a Peace Corps literacy workshop as well as school-based workshops. He has not been afraid to try new techniques for literacy.
Isatou Barry teaches a Grade 2 class. She is a dedicated and talented teacher, who has shown overwhelming effort to help her students learn to read. She has attended four Peace Corps training sessions, and served as a trainer for literacy workshops at the school. She regularly changes the contents of her class library to give her students a diversity of reading material. Unlike the UK or USA, Gambian teachers seldom read aloud to their classes, but following the training sessions, Isatou regularly reads to her class.
Isatou's effectiveness in teaching children to read is probably because she is herself a keen reader. A teacher who loves reading is sure to instil the same in her students. Isatou goes through a novel about every two weeks. Her favourite authors are John Grisham and Danielle Steele.
Here are some ways other teachers use the library/resource room:
Fatou Bah, the Early Childhood Development (ECD) teacher, uses the resource center to make teaching aids, and brings materials to her class, like these small slates for her students to practice writing.
Basiru Bah, a first year teacher trainee, uses the resource room every day to plan and prepare for his lessons. He makes teaching aids here almost every day.
Mr. Jammeh, the senior teacher, made letter sound cards for teaching sound blending for phonics.
Head Teacher Amadou Jallow
The head teacher, Amadou Jallow, was instrumental in the construction of the library/resource room and organised all the people needed for its completion. Now, as a member of the library committee, he regularly visits the room to make sure that everything is running smoothly, and constantly monitors and promotes teachers’ use of the resources in the classroom.
Pageant has been really pleased to help this up-country school.you can see the results of Laura's next project, which was to refurbish some educational murals and paint some new ones. We hope that we can co-operate with the Peace Corps again if similar opportunities arise. For more about how Pageant works with Peace Corps Volunteers and the schools they work in, please have a look at .