Friday, February 20, 2015

Week 5: Learning Curve

NI means ‘to rain’ in Buli.

As we began to finish our blog today, a sudden, short burst of rain showered over Sandema.  The rain has arrived and with it brings along change of season, temperature and atmosphere. Similarly, this working week has gifted us with change of approach. We’ve had many chances to learn and develop this week and look forward to bringing and building upon this fresher approach as we head into the final weeks of our placement. 

On Tuesday this week the team started our first sensitisation programme at Balansa Primary. The presentations were focusing on disability, inclusive education and influential people with disabilities and were going to be delivered by Sanpreet, Muniru and Rory, with Priscilla translating. So at about 8:15 we all piled into the pick-up truck and made our way down the bumpy, dusty road to school.  The programme was interactive, with pupils making a lot of contributions by asking questions and getting involved with mini disability-awareness games.

One awareness game gave the opportunity to make the pupils understand what it would like to be have complete sight loss: we blindfolded them, placed their shoes away from them and asked them to find them. As our this cohort's emphasis is on inclusivity and encouraging younger people to support people with disabilities, we then guided them to find their shoes to make them realise how a little bit of support and encouragement can result in a success. We thought it necessary to include the teaching staff in the games as well, so we have no changed this activity so that teachers can also take part - both students and teachers will take the role of being blindfolded and being the supporter.

During the presentation, we quickly realised that some of the terms we were using were lost on the younger children in the audience and decided that we would have to adjust the presentation before visiting the next school. When we had finished giving our presentations, we handed out leaflets to the students and questionnaires to teachers, while Abigail took the names of children with disabilities who had attended the presentation, but were not enrolled in any school.

On our return to the office we finalised our plans for the inclusive Peer Education Day with the Wiaga Girls’ Club that we had scheduled for the afternoon, and headed to Sandema bus station in an optimistic mood. Unfortunately, after waiting for an hour, still no children with disabilities had arrived. The team began travelling at around 2:00pm to the Wiaga Girls’ Club to organize the activities. We started with a brief introduction of our men, who were not known by the girls, and followed up with an ice breaker to relax everyone. The girls were then split into five groups and each activity, including painting and Ludo, was led by a team member, with Abolnab and Bronwen helping to direct the girls to their next station. Everyone was having a great time, enjoying the session, but we were still feeling slightly let down by the lack of children with disabilities in attendance.

Pin The Tail On The Donkey

On Wednesday afternoon we held our second ICT lesson, during which we built on what the children had learnt in the last lesson. There some new faces in the class, which was encouraging to see, and the children all seemed to have remembered most of what we taught them last lesson. Everyone was impressed with how fast the children were learning, especially as most of them had only touched a computer for the first time last week. These activities are important for us to take part in because they show us how receptive children are the new ideas we present to them

All in all it has been an important week. We have had some successes, but also some not so successful activities. We have got a lot done, but it has highlighted the fact that we still have a lot to learn.

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