I had a wonderful time when I visited The Gambia recently. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mrs Kennett, the Governors, staff, pupils and families of St. Edward's Catholic Primary School who supported me with this trip.
As you know, there were two purposes for my visit:
1) To research perceptions of reading in The Gambia, working for Abooku (charity)
2) To start to establish a link between St. Edward's and a school in The Gambia
The visit was organised by B & C Educational directors and founders of the Abooku charity, Dr Des Bowden and Pam Copeland. In total, there were 16 of us who travelled to West Africa, all with different aims an expectations. There were a number of teachers and Head Teachers who formed part of the group.
We had a very busy week - there was so much to do and so little time. This page will develop over time to try and encapsulate everything that we experienced and everything we learned so keep checking for updates...
Monday 27th November 2017
Our first full day in The Gambia. We had arrived at our hotel on the previous evening, checked in, bought water from a local store and then changed some money. We had to buy lots of large bottles of water, not only to ensure that we stayed hydrated in the very hot weather but also so that we could brush our teeth daily. It is advised that we do not drink the water from the taps as it does not go through the same purification process as water in the EU and can result in diarrhoea - none of us wanted that! The currency in The Gambia is dalasi - I know that many of you wanted to know this. This is what dalasi looks like:
In the morning, we all assembled in the hotel grounds for a teacher seminar. Many teachers, head teachers and other school leaders attended. The aim of the seminar was to discuss the advantages and pitfalls of schools linking between the UK and The Gambia. Everyone introduced themselves and it was interesting to hear about the different schools.
Lower Basic Schools in The Gambia provide education for children from 6/7 to 12/13 years of age. They vary in size and many have between 2000 and 3000 pupils. Prior to this, many children attend nursery school - they would start nursery at about 3/4 years of age (some younger).
We then went off to Bijilo Nursery School. This was a lovely school and the children and staff welcomed us with open arms. Children showed off their wonderful singing with a rendition of 'Wind the Bobbin Up' and also a song about ABCs. We saw one teacher leading the class whilst carrying her baby on her back!