The Many Uses of Bottles- by Josephine Lumb

I have made it to Uganda!

The first two weeks have been a whirlwind of meeting lots of new faces and getting acclimatised to the busy streets of Kampala, the capital of Uganda. It is a place of constant noise; horns, people, animals and music. It is the sort of place you risk your life every time you try and cross the road. Of course the Kampalan’s didn’t see it like this and just thought it was funny watching us step out onto the road and then scurry back again, deciding it was too risky!

After Kampala, myself and the other volunteer, Jenny travelled up to Masindi- A much quieter town than Kampala, where the birds are definitely the loudest noise.

Over the two weeks, we have done lots of training alongside RedEarth. We have trained headteachers, inspectors and lead teachers, all of whom have enjoyed the training and have seemed enthusiastic about taking new skills and ideas back to their schools.

One area of the training I have been particularly impressed with is how everything that we might normally deem rubbish can be used to enhance a classroom’s learning environment or act as a learning aid.

For example, a plastic bottle which I wouldn’t think twice about throwing in the bin has many uses:

  • Storing chalk and board rubbers
  • Making bottle lines, these can be used to hold letters and numbers, then used interactively to teach reading and counting.
  • Collecting group points in the newly introduced reward system.
  • bottle tops are used as points
Bottle lines being used by a child in a lesson.
Bottle lines being used by a child in a lesson.

Cardboard is also widely used to make all sorts of fantastic aids that help children become more independent learners. Letters of the alphabet, games like bingo and pairs, number fans and reading frames.

All made with cardboard-Inspectors seeing how children can use frames and phonics knowledge to build up words.
All made with cardboard-Inspectors seeing how children can use frames and phonics knowledge to build up words.

Rice sacks are used to make colourful interactive displays for the classroom and also used to make books. Books and other reading material is noticeably missing from most classrooms, and indeed many of the local communities.

All these resources are being used to help children be more active and independent in lessons. Learning aids are a totally new concept to the majority of Ugandan schools, where previously the majority of learning took place by rote. The best thing about these resources is that they are locally available and can easily be made.

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A trophy made out of local resources. Any guesses as to how it is made and held together? Clue- there is no glue!
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I even saw boys playing football with a banana fibre ball.

Since arriving I have met lots of local people and have been made to feel very welcome. Over the next few weeks I am looking forward to meeting all 11 of the schools I will be supporting and beginning to work with them to implement changes in their classrooms.

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