The digital projector that Tosh found and which I bought with me came into its own today. I had a Year 1 class – again all girls – who are just starting to use computers. We looked at the Shift and Caps Lock keys, inserted a picture and and tried making a poster. I am going to have to learn to speak more slowly, though the pupils are beginning to gain confidence to ask if they don’t understand.
Glory be! I have been given a timetable by Aunty Cole. Monday ESOL, “Remidial” and IT, Tuesday IT (finish 11:30), Wed ESOL to 11:30, then IT, Thu ESOL to 11:30, Fri IT to 11:30. A nice timetable, with plenty of non-contact time.
I know it’s just the beginning, but the pupils are well behaved and the classes are small here – I expected large numbers. Despite (because of?) the lack of resources, the kids seem genuinely keen and even the less able / motivated don’t appear to be a problem in class.
Last night I took part in an informal chat with a few of the staff – Abass, Mousa and a couple of others – about the situation in the Middle East. It was encouraging to hear liberal and well-developed ideas from these Muslims about the rights of the Israelis: “If the Arabs, Iranians etc. want rid of the Jews, let them tell us where they should go! Everyone has a right to a homeland! The Koran (i.e. bits of the Old Testament) tells us the Israelis belong there.” References to Jacob’s family were used to support this enlightened view. The West has such a jaundiced view of Islam, coloured by zealots and fanatics, that it is a tonic to have this misconception dented a little.
The more I listen to, and exchange views with, the staff here the more convinced I am that they genuinely have the interests of the students – and The Gambia as a whole – at heart. Some of the current staff were students in the early days of the Skills Centre, became PIA participants, volunteered after that and eventually joined the staff. Many of them were actively involved in building the Rhun Palm Inn and have invested a lot of physical effort and time in the development of the PIA. They talk with sadness about the state of Kerewan and compare it with the speed with which another organisation put up, equipped and inaugurated their own IT facility for the villagers.