Y pethau bach, Hijinx and little people

Seven weeks has flown. To some extent it’s because we’re all so busy, however I think the whole experience has become a part of our life. What will we come home with from being in Thaba Tseka? I’d like to feel that I’ll slow down my pace of life, spend the time cooking food instead of buying packaged stuff, walk that mile and a half to the shops rather than jump in the car. I’m not naïve enough to believe that everything can transfer, my ouzo from a Greek holiday never tasted as good back in Wales. That said I hope I’ll take that Basotho attitude to honesty and friendship, maybe give the time to people and lastly just enjoy the fact I’m healthy and happy.

 Work is ever changing bringing a new sense of adventure and a playful attitude to teaching. How much fun can you have with primary children? Perhaps we’ve forgotten with exams and constant comparisons how intuitively inquisitive and creative young minds are. These children make their own wire cars, can use packaging to create little worlds. They have little formal technological development, but give them the opportunity and you can’t but embrace their joy. Using paint for the first time on their hands, building castles with draw bridges that work, potato stamping. If I’d been told I’d be in a class doing this a year ago I’d have laughed!

That said the maths is tough. They are so used to repeating a question before giving an answer, have little or no experience of practical applications or investigational work. When they get the chance we are fighting a reluctance to engage in anything where the information is not just given. That’s the challenge to let them see how cool a subject it can be. Grade five over the last weeks are looking at special numbers – Primes, Square and Pascal’s Triangle. We are learning ways of maybe giving these numbers characters as well as characteristics. Once it becomes, “I am a prime, I am one of the kings of numbers.”

Anyway over the last fortnight we went on our first outing. We’d met the HiJinx team in the chapter Cardiff last January and spent a day with a group of young adults with learning difficulties. Four had the chance to go out to Lesotho and work with some Basotho children putting on some dramatic work. In this group were Victoria from Tenby and Gareth from Cardiff. The amount of times that you hear “It’s a small world” in this case Victoria is known to a school friend, Gareth Evans, and Gareth is known to another friend from Aberystwyth, Lindy Martin.

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The production was terrific, outside in a grass auditorium. A crowd of 400 primary school children saw one showing and later a secondary school. One excited youngster rushed up saying she’d been taught 5 years earlier by a Welsh Teacher from Dolen.

Morija was amazing. We saw the museum where we learnt that its better to have a daughter than a son as when marrying the local custom dictates that the future groom’s family need to pay 21 cows a certain amount of goats and one sheep. We also saw the first church in Lesotho built by the French, a lovely craft center run by a Canadian and best of all Dinosaur foot prints from – yes the Lesothosaurus! We took a 7 mile hike to the top of the highest local mountain, I have a photo of me as Rakiki on pride rock. Our Lodge owner was a lovely French lady called Brigitte, who had married a Lesotho man and lived there most of her adult life, investing in the local community through youth projects and education. Again how small is Wales. Brigitte is friendly with Anne Loughlan ( Dolen stalwart) from Carmarthen. As a note of interest Brigitte was enthusing about a group from Plas Mawr, school in Cardiff, saying how courteous and well behaved they were on their visit supporting local schools.

As for the journey, unforgettable is perhaps the best description. On the way down we caught a taxi. This is like a white van with 14 seats. It cruises around until they’ve filled up and then starts the 5 hour journey. After half an hour we were 19 and a baby listening to blasting gospel music. The return was a large bus from Maseru with a religious program on the radio, constantly punctuated by the statement “Quality time”. The roads are dangerous – a bit like the Alps but in battered buses. Ours was climbing some 40% gradient when we heard an enormous bang from underneath. Our last 4 hours was spent on our knees praying that it wasn’t the brakes and promising to spend some quality time. Interspersing all this was the constant shouting in my ear from a manic herdsman. He was leaning over grinning at me and saying, who knows what in Sesotho. After he had finally gone, and I wasn’t deaf any more, a young student told me that the gentleman really wanted to find out who we were and what we were doing. This is where you see the fact that these people love visitors.

From Monday it’s just been St. David’s Day. We agreed on a general mix of activities trying to combine songs, crafts and some research. Throw in a little storytelling through drama and you get the idea. Again it’s been amazing. Not just what they bring to the table as children and teachers but also how much I’ve learnt from Vicki and Alyson. I’ve drawn cathedrals, celtic crosses, dragons and infographics, but the most fun has been with the little ones adding daffodil potato stamps, hand prints on a dragon, a graffiti wall covered by sayings like “11 million sheep can’t be wrong”. The two highlights were grade zero singing Bore Da dressed as daffodils interspersed with some in Welsh costume and a manic inflatable leek, additionally the story of Gelert which was developed from Vicki’s Pie Corbett but narrated live with a troupe of actors acting out the key roles. The Basotho teachers were amazing, a short introduction on Welsh love spoons and suddenly grade 4 were presenting their designs and what they meant. “This shows I love God and I love my Teachers.” Another typical Sion concoction, a cardboard box castle, was trumped by these creative monsters with designs incorporating stairs, water towers, flower gardens and even a washing line! My friend from Ardwyn days, Michael Hogg commented on Facebook that it was like Patagonia transferred to Africa. I guess he was right. We are building on two years of global links in this area.

Alyson cooked the population of Wales in Welsh cakes the other day. Everything is a new learning experience for me. Never had I realized the importance of the proper margarine, why they may not rise, how much chaos a little flour creates. My designated role was quite basic as washer up, enviously looking at Vicki, enjoying turning over the cakes, while Alyson made the mix and generally barked orders at me!

We’re still living in harmony. We still eat together, cooking is mainly vegetarian ranging from pasta to risotto to soups. It’s a bit like being back in university halls. Today after Saint David’s Day the Thaba Tseka school invited us out for pizza as a welcome and a greeting. To say that we felt humbled is an understatement. We feel welcomed and appreciated and that’s a stunning emotion. These people don’t take us for granted, they tell us straight if they agree or not, but today they brought us into their family.

There are customs we are still getting used to. They think nothing of referring to each other as “you know the fat one” or telling you that it is ill mannered not to eat when others are. The children are just wonderful, from those who walk with you to school, insisting on carrying your bag, to those who sing along with you on the walk. The latest favourite is the Alyson Krause version of “Down to the river to pray”. We were fortunate to see some local youths teaching Loti school children a choral piece with a four-part harmony. These young men looked as if they were gangstas from the ghettos but boy could they sing. One had a full range from bass to alto.

 It’s taken me the seven weeks to get used to the little people. By that I mean the little monsters under 1 metre who reside in reception and grade 1. These munchkins have a fascination with the hair on my arms, stroking them constantly as if I were an angora goat. They originally seemed like characters from Lord of the Flies with me as piggy, but I am now getting used to them rushing up and hugging me.

 I wouldn’t have survived the prep for this week without Vicki who came in on my only day at Loti school to work with all the classes. Again it was lovely having finished at Thaba Tseka to walk over the mountain to Loti and tell them that Mme Alyson and Ntate David were going to see them all explain their work or perform their songs. We are still a team, still good friends and very focused on leaving our legacy. The next two challenges are the sports day and the WASH challenge. After that it’s a quick run down to Easter and our trips to either South Africa or Zimbabwe. I’m going to miss my three mates.

 So back to Saint David. I tried in both schools to give his message about the “Small things in life” and at the end of the day reflected that it’s the small things that are helping us assimilate here.

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From the mountains to Morija and back again

From the mountains to Morija and back again

Last weekend we decided to venture down from our mountains home in search of adventure, our journey (5 hours , 19 people & a baby on a 14 seater minibus) took us to the small town of Morija- known as the location of the first church in Lesotho and the site of the Lesothosarus footprints.

We were welcomed into the Morija Guest house and shown to our lodge where we very quickly felt relaxed, sitting on the veranda adding our books overlooking a local playing field full of children playing sports and in the distance the amazing mountains that optimise Lesotho life. 

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On the Friday we visited the local museum and met up with the Hijinx team from Wales who were performing their show created with students from Maseru for local school children- it was inspiring to see how well the group worked after such a short time together and to see how warmly their work was received by the Basotho children. 

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On Saturday we decided we had to see the dinosaur footprints for ourselves, so off we went in the hands of our knowledgeable guide on a rather grey day to see what we could find. After a short walk we came to a dam where a local man was fishing for cat fish, from here our walk became more of a climb to reach the dinosaur footprints. It was worth it- nestled in the hillside was a huge boulder with perfectly preserved prints! Sion then decided he wanted to walk the ridge that we had been looking up at for the last few days (which he had affectionately nicknamed 'Mount Doom!'... So after a short decent off we went again. On the way we saw some beautify scenery (waterfalls and trees) and met some very friendly Basotho walkers. 

A short while later we emerged at the top of the mountains to find many sheep a full village and breath-taking views.

 

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After such a restful weekend we began our journey back to Thaba Tseka. Having been told it may be tricky to travel on a Sunday, we were pleasantly surprised to quickly find a taxi... Shortly after, we realised that though we were on in a taxi, it may not be a speedy ride- our taxi spent the next hour cruising the local area for passengers. This did allow us to see some more of the local area including the Royal residence and also to listen in the the local radio show which was reminding us repeatedly the spend "Quality time!"

When we arrived in Maseru we were chivvied through the local market onto a large coach to begin our ascent into the mountains. On the plus side, we had more space (and quieter music) but after about two hours there was an almighty bang. Having checked that nothing was broken or hanging off, the driver continued (with an added rattle) and several hours later we made it to Thaba Tseka.

St David's Day

Having made it back in one piece, we began preparations for the week ahead (St David's day). Being away from Wales for St David's day, I felt I wanted to give the children of Katlehong a taste of the celebration and the activities that we might do at home. 

This was easier said than done however given the size of the school and there were times during the week that I felt I'd possibly taken on a task that was too great- hand printing with 400 children in one morning for example and trying to get into each of the 12 classrooms in 2 days to complete a range of activities.... But the long days and evenings paid off, the children were full of pride sharing their learning with the rest of the school in today's celebrations. 

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It wouldn't be a true Welsh St David's day without a taste of welsh weather... As the Grade 5's performance of Bedd Gelert drew to a close, the heavens opened, bringing our celebrations to an early end! Grade 6 and 7 who had worked so hard to create their work ( castles, welsh facts and comparisons between Wales and Lesotho) were more than a little disappointed to find they wouldn't get their moment to shine... Secretly I am a little please... It means we can carry on the celebrations into another day!

 

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Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus!

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Sums, Pie and Skies

So to my friends who have no idea how an idiot like me ended up in Lesotho – here is the history. Then to follow it this week’s update.

 

Retirement is fun, fulfilling and wonderful, but also a little scary. Everyone says that you can plan for retirement but in my mind I don’t think you can. The three best bits of advice I’ve had came from an old friend Roger who said he sometimes felt that his whole social life was with people his own age after a staffroom career of no generational differences. My brother in law Ashley also told me that the winter’s days were long. Lastly a colleague Moira told me that you knew when you were ready.

 

In May I knew I was tired, wanted to finish and just go, so September after 37 years I was finishing. I knew I wanted to do something different and stay active and feel a sense that I still had worth. Greg my old Pennanians rugby buddy e mailed me recently saying he wished he’d done something similar. He nailed it. All my life I’ve been wishing I’d been on an adventure, taken a risk in my career. I’d regretted the fact that when young Claudia and I got straight into the house, mortgage treadmill and not tried VSO.

 

Dolen Cymru have for years sponsored visiting teachers going to Lesotho and working in a variety of educational environments. I’d heard about it through Claudia, when she went to see a friend teach out here in 2007. The chance came up and I took it. It’s teaching in a hilltop primary called Thaba Tsekha three days a week, another remote hillside school called Loti every Wednesday with an additional brief of working with the Principal, (who has visited Welsh schools) action plan. Lastly a day working collectively in the local College of Education lecturing for three hours to students on Education in general, and Primary Teaching skills in particular.

 

My two colleagues are the best. One like me has retired from secondary education – but in her case early. The other is an excellent primary practitioner, young, enthusiastic, with a whole career path in front of her.

 

We get on. Help each other when moody or feeling we miss home. We work together on projects and lessons. I have learnt so much in 5 weeks I honestly feel I’ve had a new lease of enthusiasm in my life.

 

This week has been the change week. For the first time I have felt that I am making a difference to maths teaching. People are using methods that I have modeled. Resources that a friend called Carol has given me are now in full play in the schools. Teachers and both principals are kindly saying that their staff value what is being done. It’s genuinely refreshing to see children light up with a smile as they understand something, or when you praise them.

 

Separately, we had a ball in the local college taking them through ideas and resources and strategies for Numeracy teaching.  Students were thin on the ground, maybe 30 as there is a strike but along with the 6 lecturers I think they came out having had fun, having got some ideas and maybe having understood some mathematics.

 

I guess the biggest challenge has been the fact that Basotho teachers think that you are an expert in all subjects. This week I was challenged by Vicki, my primary colleague to deliver a Pie Corbett version of the story “Gelert” which we hope to integrate into the St. David’s Day celebrations. Out of my comfort zone would not begin to describe sketching out pictures of the story and then delivering the story with actions. I’ve been asked to do finger painting with grade 1 and painting portraits with grade 5. Thank God for e-mail and Claudia who is full of ideas at home. That said I have honestly never had so much fun. Singing songs like Heads shoulders knees and toes, 12345 once I caught a fish alive, doing actions for Gelert, taking a class on rates and measuring flow rate or speed as a practical with 70 kids.

 

Wednesday I arrive in Loti at 7 to take their Grade 7 children through a walk through assessment. These kids walk up to 5 miles but they are all there. School is fun in both institutions. I’m still teaching chess and helping read at lunchtimes. Every week there is a new astonishing find.

 

Assemblies, which are outside, allowing a little girl the chance of her monologue where she had taken over the mantle of a proper noun, explaining who she was, how she worked. Another where four grade 6 children acted out the story of the “Wisdom of Solomon”. Imagine my horror when the first thing I heard was “oh no my baby is dead” – it took me a few minutes to get up to speed with what was happening. I’ve seen kids bring guitars and play them. There seems nothing special in that, until you realize that they have made these from planks of wood and bits of metal. Yes they were in tune! The most astonishing was a session of warm up athletics where the whole school were in a co-ordinated group slow warm up, jog easy jog. Patterns interweaving as the classes snaked in differing directions and gradually after some 30 minutes interwove again for the warm downs. Smiles, beams as they just enjoyed the sheer beauty of their surroundings and the joy of exercise and freedom. No sick-notes everyone, from all shapes and sizes took part.

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Outside our work , which is hard we are loving the sheer expanse of the area. Walking to school, our weekend hike and talking with locals. On Thursday evening we were fortunate to experience our first African sunset. The sort you read about as a child. I love this country and this opportunity. Claudia said,  “you sound really happy”. I am – it’s lovely to be able to feel that my teaching career is finishing with me having a genuine smile on my face.

 

Ok I’m sure it’s been a little boring, but I guess it puts why I’m here in context.

 

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Songs, Storytelling and Sunsets

It’s hard to believe that I have been out in Lesotho for five weeks already. The local Basotho people are very welcoming and keen to help us learn more Sesotho! We were surprised this week to find that Valentine’s Day is a big event in the Basotho calendar from a dress down day at school (where the sea of green turned to red, white and pink) to a parade of local college students in their finery.IMG_0260.JPG

 

The school routine is now established and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying my days which start, without fail, with an assembly to share and celebrate learning and march to traditional songs followed by collaboration with teachers in lessons across the school. The children are so eager to learn and communicate with us in and outside of the classroom. One of my favourite moments of this week was singing phonics songs with some of the younger children in the playground when out and about doing a water audit!

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A highlight of the last few weeks has been working with four classes (of over 100 pupils in each) within two schools to retell the story of Gelert using Pie Corbett strategies in preparation for St David’s Day. The enjoyment of students and staff alike made the hours of drawing storyboards worthwhile! Next week’s challenge… to remember the actions chosen by each class!

It’s been a pleasure collaborating with teachers and student teachers in maths over the last few weeks and to use practical, interactive approaches to teaching probability and equivalent fractions; seeing the children’s excitement and satisfaction when provided with resources to carry out their own investigations was priceless.

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Part of our remit for our time here is supporting the schools in teaching their pupils about water sanitation and hygiene. One of the elements of this has been creating wash stations for use at the schools (as running water is scares in several of our schools). The sourcing of materials for this has been more challenging at times than we had foreseen! Nevertheless, with the guidance of my Principal and the help of the school carpenter we have prevailed and are well underway with the tippy tap construction!- thank you to those who have donated via our just giving page, this work would not have been possible without your help! (Pictures of the completed taps will follow shortly) : https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/vicki-alyson-sion-ltpp2018

 

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Last week we began our work at Lesotho College of Education working with student teachers in their first and third years. The students and lecturers are enthusiastic and keen to participate and are making our Friday working an enjoyable experience.

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Painting the town red

Since our arrival in Thaba Tseka we have settled into our spacious accommodation and routine reigns- with washing weekend rituals quickly established! We are becoming accustomed to a varied (vegetarian) diet which we enjoy sharing around our dining table, coupled with tales of our adventures at school.

 Only this weekend did we discover that our TV has cable! Cue 80’s and 90’s chick flick revival, interspersed with the odd football match for good measure- we are looking forward to watching the Wales match next weekend (provided the electricity holds out!). Over the week we were surprised to see that the local shops were slowly being painted red- we wondered if this was linked to our arrival, imagine Siôn’s face when he was told it was due to their Vodacom sponsorship!

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School days:

Week one in Thaba Tseka schools has flown by with lots of new experiences and stories. We began our week with a tour of all our schools, where we were treated to morning assembly marches, many ‘Good Morning Teachers’ and even renditions of ‘Bore Da!’. The warm Basotho ways were clear and continued into our first few days at our respective schools.  That is in spite of the first impressions when Vicki arrived at her school early on Tuesday morning to find that all the children stopped and stared at this ‘stranger’ arriving in their midst (just like an old cowboy movie!)… this soon changed however and now no matter where we go, someone knows Me Vicki- from pupils in the street (or hospital) to parents in the local shop. We have told them, that every fourth person in Wales is called Vicki! (She is the third to take part in the LTPP!)

 Daily we now find ourselves walking to and from school like 21st century pied pipers followed by an array of smiling faces and questions about how we are today.

We have been spending time in various classrooms and have begun to collaborate with the teachers and learners. This has been a positive experience (if not frustrating at times, given the constraints of large classes (upwards of 150), not enough desks and limited space available in some schools!). Nevertheless, no matter which school you go to in Thaba Tseka, the children are smartly dressed and eager to learn some walking upto 2 hours to get to school. Their thirst for knowledge is not just limited to the teacher hours either it has transpired, even at lunchtime children flock to the library at Paray Primary to share a story with Mẽ Alyson. Ntate Siôn discovered that his lunchtime chess club was an instant hit!

 

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WASH leaders at Thaba Tseka:

Thaba Tseka’s toilet construction project got underway this week with parents coming together to meet with representatives of TED Biogas and agree on their role in building. On Wednesday 6 members of Grade 7 began their work as ‘WASH Champions’  to document the journey that has just begun and acting as advocates for water sanitation and hygiene within their school. Head over to our Youtube channel to see the first video instalment.

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Immigration, immigration, immigration:

On Friday the day came for us to meet with the Education office and arrange our permits, this got off to a speedy start and we were dreaming of taking an afternoon stroll up one of the local Thaba (mountains). It soon became clear that this was not to be however when after two visits to the police station and three visits to the immigration office our mission was only half complete!

 What lay in store was a trip to the local hospital for a health check… where we were treated to visits to every department (even the mother and baby clinic!). This was far from dull with Siôn deciding to try to blame his high blood pressure on the young nurse who took the initial reading- this was greeted by hilarity from the older nurse who took the second reading and much eye rolling from Alyson and Vicki!   8 hours later our mission was complete!

Weekend wanderings:

With our aim to ‘Climb every mountain’ scuppered on Friday, on Saturday, we woke early and began our ascent. It was lovely to leave the hustle and bustle of the town centre and head off into the wilderness. We soon discovered however that we were not alone… echoing over the mountains (with not a soul in sight) came several little voices singing “ Bore Da, Bore Da, Sut wyt ti?, Sut wyt ti? Da iawn diolch, Da iawn diolch, Bore da! Bore da!” To say we were surprised was an understatement and shortly afterwards the local children began to appear to greet us. When we reached the top of the mountain and took a quiet moment to reflect, we again were greeted by shouts from afar and mountains stretching out into the distance in all directions as far as the eye could see. This really is the Mountain Kingdom in the Sky!

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We are maintaining links with our fourth amigo, David, who is continuing his meetings with the movers and shakers of Lesotho education- most notable story this week was his visit to one establishment where the adjoining office door still had remnants of a failed assassination attempt several years ago… eek. David laughed it off and is still in one piece.

 

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What a difference 100miles makes!

Three and a half hours of windy roads through beautiful rugged countryside as we made our way up into the mountains. Each corner you turned, a new panorama- highlights including: ‘God help us pass’, little settlements of rondavels and the sight of blanket shrouded herd boys with their cattle in the distance.

Expecting a quiet serene rural town, we arrived in Thaba Tseka to find that Friday, is party day! Locals gathered round in the centre of town to watch a visiting well known Lesotho rapper perform some of his top hits… sadly we couldn’t join in… didn’t know the words :s

Having said this, the biggest surprise was the difference in weather. After leaving the 35◦c heat of Maseru in the morning appropriately dressed in shorts and t-shirts; we now understand the similarity between Lesotho and Wales extends to the weather. Rain and thunderstorms greeted us as we drove closer to Thaba Tseka. Luckily, we have come prepared with umbrellas (admittedly we had intended to use them to block the intense sun, not the rain!). We have been settling in to our new home at a local guest house and making much needed tea and coffee (between the power cuts!)

Since arriving, we have met some of the locals that we will be working with (including the Local Chief of Police, the Principal of the Lesotho College of Education and the Principal of Lotti Primary school) and are getting to grips with the Lesotho greetings!

Our team of four has now become three for the next few weeks as David has left this morning for the ‘big smoke’ to carry out some important educational reconnaissance work with Manyanye. 

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Our first experiences of Lesotho

Lumela!
What a busy week we have had!

After a rather long plane journey to Johannesburg we were met by a larger than life Lesotho gentleman with the world’s smallest Welsh flag(no wonder we missed him). The next problem... how to fit all our luggage (16bags!) and us into his people carrier. After a short pit stop for Wimpy (welcome back 1970!) we made our way to the border of Lesotho where Sion and David were perplexed when offered a place at the front of the queue. David's immediate reaction was that their charisma and charm were the reasons... imagine their dismay when our driver told them that in fact their white hair was the significant factor!

Since arriving in Maseru we have met some wonderfully warm people including: the staff and hosts at the Haven of Peace Guest House, our Wales Lesotho Link colleague Ntate Manyaye and our language teacher, Principal Ntate Setempe (patience of a saint!). Thank you for making us feel so welcome.

One interesting difference noted immediately is the Basotho way of straight talking as Vicki found when asked if she had seen the guest houses iron!

Our provision shopping is complete, we won't mention the receipt! Tomorrow we head into the mountains to our new home of Thaba Tseka. Let the teaching and learning adventure begin.

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LTPP 2018 Rising To The Challenge...Watch This Space!

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LTPP 18: Alyson, Vicki and Sion meeting Jon Kidd from Hijinx Theatre Company to discuss skill sharing in Wales and Lesotho prior to their departure

 

Over 2 weekends in October and November 2017, our new Lesotho Teacher Placement Programme (LTPP) 2018 volunteer recruits came together in Cardiff Bay to start their training and preparation for living and working in Lesotho for 5 months. The weekends consisted of laying the groundwork for action planning, information sharing, and making connections with LTPP past participants to hear their stories. From the very first day, their enthusiasm, energy, ebullience and positivity was undeniable. The diversity and depth of knowledge, skills and experience that they bring are certainly a recipe for success and as a team, they will undoubtedly take Dolen Cymru’s educational partnership work on to yet another level of impact across the two cultures of Lesotho and Wales.

The LTPP 2018 team will be the third team of Welsh teachers to work in the remote mountain town of Thaba Tseka. The educational community there are working hard to raise standards to improve outcomes and increase the chances for their learners to reach their potential. However the Thaba Tseka District is still 10th out of 10 in the district league table for results so the need for continued support and collaborative working is still high. The impact of the LTPP 2016 and 2017 on the teachers and learners of Thaba Tseka schools has been evidenced and reported. With LTPP returning for 2018 the aim is to strengthen the working partnerships and to empower the teachers of Thaba Tseka to make the changes that they want for themselves as professionals and for their learner’s outcomes. The LTPP team will progress projects already started in literacy, working with the Lesotho College of Education and the teacher trainees, working with the Education Officers and promoting interactive teaching and learning to deliver the new curriculum. They will also extend the programme remit to start introduce new projects and to put their own stamp in the placement.

Our new project for 2018 is WASH – Water Sanitation and Hygiene. This is a multi-faceted programme funded by a Hub Cymru Africa Grant for Thaba Tseka and the Welsh Government Wakes for Africa Grant for Dolen Cymru activities. This ground-breaking project will involve working with an on the ground partner, TED Biogas, who will be building brand new and innovative, Amalooloo waterless toilets in one of our partner schools. Combined with this construction element, Dolen Cymru plans to facilitate of a sustainable educational package in our partner schools. Our Welsh teachers will train and collaborate with identified Basotho teachers to deliver an exciting,  interactive educational programme about health, hygiene and well-being through engaging lessons, quizzes, songs, games and  fun practical activities. These identified Basotho teachers will then train their colleagues in their schools who will consequently deliver the lessons in their classes. We are also introducing a Digital Literacy element to the programme so that the groups of learners can digitally capture the progress of the WASH project using a tablet computer to ‘vlog’, take photos and record the impact. This will hopefully take the work of the project to a wider audience who will see the important work that the schools are doing to promote awareness of good practise in sanitation, hygiene and health and the positive impact on the well-being of the children and the community.

We are also incredibly fortunate this year that in addition to the LTPP 2018 team of 3 – Alyson, Sion and Vicki, who will be based in our partner primary schools, we have been able to build in another dimension to our Lesotho Educational Programme. One other teacher – David,  will going out to Lesotho for 3 months with the remit of conducting a research and needs analysis project. The aim of this is to gather information and evidence from a variety of educational professionals in order to assist Dolen Cymru in identifying and investigating potential areas of need within the Lesotho education system which will meaningfully inform the shape of Dolen’s future education programmes in a targeted and relevant way that responds to the need identified by the people involved on a daily basis. This will include working with existing and longstanding partners as well as developing new links and nurturing new relationships within the educational system. With all partners, the key question we are asking is, “How can Dolen Cymru be more effective in supporting you?”

Our 2018 Team with leave the UK on 14th January from London. During their time in Lesotho they will gain wider experience and skills – both professionally and personally, from this opportunity. Overcoming the challenges of living and working abroad (such as dealing with bureaucracy, accepting different working practices and surviving without the usual support network of family and friends) will be a test of their resourcefulness and resilience and we at Dolen Cymru have no doubt that this team will rise to this challenge and ‘nail it’. Alyson, Sion and Vicki are going to be blogging about their LTPP experience and all it entails. Follow them on their journey and read about it right here on the Dolen Cymru website. Watch this space!

 

 

 

 

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Read about our Welsh teachers in Lesotho

Here you can read about how our three teachers from Wales are getting on in Thaba Tseka in Lesotho.  Sion, Vicki and Alyson are there for 5 months from January until June.

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