Gambia Visit: 1st – 11th November 2019

Report to Trustees

Purpose of Visit

The original purpose was to facilitate a Teacher Development Workshop aimed at serving or aspiring school senior managers. This was to be run by former headteacher Mark Fuller and funded by himself and his employers.

Unfortunately, due to the collapse of Thomas Cook, this workshop had to be postponed to a later date, yet to be decided.  

Since I had planned to do various other jobs related to Raise Gambia, as well as facilitate the workshops, I decided to continue with my visit, but reduce the time I was there from 3 weeks to 10 days. Work planned included:

Visit to the Education Ministry lab facility in Banjul

Observe lessons taught by participants in previous Raise Gambia workshops. This forms part of our monitoring and evaluation process.

Visit schools to distribute Level 1 and Level 2 School Accreditation certificates.

Start to plan April UBS workshops and July/August Science Summer School


I arrived in The Gambia on Friday 1st November.

On Saturday 2nd Nov I met with Saidu who had worked out the following timetable for my visit:

Monday 4th Nov:

Visit Ministry Lab

Lesson Observation: Gunjur SSS

Tuesday 5th Nov:

Lesson Observations: Presentation of Mary UBS; Old Yundum UBS

Distribution of certificates

Wednesday 6th Nov:

Lesson observation: Darsilami UBS

Distribution of certificates

Meeting with Yahya Drammeh re Summer School

Thursday 7th Nov:

Lesson observation: St Peter’s UBS

Distribution of certificates

Friday 8th Nov:

Lesson observation: Penyem UBS

Distribution of certificates

 Outcomes and conclusions

The Ministry teaching lab is a very useful resource that is seriously under used.

There are in fact several labs on the site dedicated to the different science disciplines.

Schools can book to bring students in to use the labs, at a cost, but tend to do so only when exams are looming.

I discussed with the co-ordinators how we might work together and it is certainly possible that we could use their facilities for workshops. In return I suggested that there might be some surplus equipment that we could donate to them – in particular a number of microscopes (that require electricity to work and hence are not much use to us) that we will, hopefully be getting soon through the Gunjur Project.    

It was interesting to observe so many lessons and see how the teachers are attempting to implement the ideas that have been promoted in our workshops into their lessons. Inevitably, some more successfully than others.

I have written detailed reports, with photos, of all lessons observed which are available if required.

Plans for the Summer School (to be supported by Commonweal School in Swindon) are coming together. Most likely it will be for 6 days spread over 2 weeks for Gifted and Talented Science and Maths UBS and SSS students, nominated by local schools. It will be facilitated and co-ordinated by local teachers. I will be there to observe and advise.

Plans for the April workshop are also being formulated. One of the conclusions from my lesson observations was that the practical work that is being done is very much ‘bolted on’ to the overall plan of lessons. Hence I felt that a suitable focus for the April workshops would be how to integrate practical work and other forms of active learning into lessons so that it became a normal part of the student’s learning experience.  

On the whole this was a busy and productive visit in which I felt that I had achieved all that I intended.

The one hinderance to this was the Raise Gambia car. I was using it at my main form of transport to drive myself and Saidu to the various schools and meetings. Unfortunately it was not very reliable, suffering a number of breakdowns, meaning that we had to rely on local transport or taxis for 2 of the days instead.

 I think that the time is coming when we need to think seriously about a replacement vehicle. Maybe a targeted sponsored event is the way forward on this? All suggestions are welcome!

Steve Atyeo

November 2019