Redearth volunteer, teacher and recent MSc postgraduate of Oxford University – Lydia fills us in on her first month in Uganda:
“Our first month as volunteers seems to have flown by. After arriving in Masindi and meeting the Redearth team, Kate and I were ready to start visiting schools. At first we accompanied the field officers to see how they train and observe teachers, then we were introduced to the schools we’d be supporting – around ten each.
Each school has been different and every visit has brought its own share of surprises. The journeys themselves have been fascinating. Driving through clouds of red dust or sliding through muddy puddles, we see lush green landscapes with a mixture of banana trees and pine forests, fields of maize or sugar cane, and bustling streets and villages.
One surprise, which turned out to be a common feature of every visit, has been the greetings chanted by classes in unison whenever we (or any visitors) enter a classroom: “You are welcome our visitors! This is P4 class. Our motto is ‘Education is the key to success’. We are very glad to see you!” (and many variations along that theme). In fact, classes seem to learn phrases for all sorts of situations. After asking one class how they were, all hundred or so children replied “We are alright, clever, and intelligent!”.
Listening, repeating, and remembering appear to play a prominent role in typical primary school lessons – especially given the challenge of learning in different languages and the pressure of exams. However, it’s been interesting to see the teaching strategies developing in Redearth schools – from groups engaging in learning games and discussions, to children chopping fruit to study fractions, telling time on cardboard clocks, or acting out stories with handmade dolls. We are very much looking forward to learning and working with these schools more in the months to come!”