By Ali Calvert
This is a well overdue update on the Mariama Mae Pre-School; sorry it has taken so long. We have been busy building a secure perimeter wall and a strong metal entrance gate. Glad to say this is now complete and looking good. We hope in the future to be able to plant Bougainvillea, (a fast growing flowering climber) up the walls to provide a bright environment.
Because of this building work the school has gained extra playground space which Fatou Janneh, the head teacher, has been creatively filling, a children’s garden where they can learn to plant, grow and care for food crops; a fabulous area playground area with climbing bars, swings and balance beams; a wonderful sandpit, and Fatou’s latest addition is a water play trough. All of these have been colourfully painted and are in non-stop use. The children are delighted with these new activities and wanting to use them at every opportunity.
I spent a lovely half hour just watching the children on all this new equipment. I wish I could capture the joy that the children find in this simple play. The delight and the laughter they share as they experiment and get involved in these activities is beautiful; if you just sit and observe you see how much learning is taking place.
I cannot praise the staff enough for the continual commitment to their children and the school in general. Everyone is working hard, constantly improving themselves and the school through attending The Early Years Training Course at Gambia College. Fatou, who started in class 1, has just completed her three years training, is now working closely with her head teacher gaining experience to enable her to teach both classes 2 and 3, well done Fatou. We welcome Bintu, our new class 1 teacher, who I feel will bring a lot of vibrant positive energy both to her class and to the school. She has just begun her training. Tako our class 3 teacher has now settled very well into the school, she has a very calm approach and her children respond well to her as she prepares them to move to Lower Basic School. Tako is now in her second year at college and enjoying it very much.
In all the teachers you can see a keenness to learn and share new ideas that going to the college gives them. It is a pleasure to see these ideas being brought back into the classroom with enthusiasm to benefit the children.
All the staff are teaching a broad based comprehensive level of early years education. They understand the importance that the children are given the opportunity to learn through varied creative and physical activities. I am very proud of everyone involved who help to achieve this; that is not to say there aren’t the usual hiccups in maintaining a school in Africa.
At this point I like to think “if only people could see for themselves”: This has happened this year, two separate families have gone out for a visit to the school. It was a real positive for everyone, I ws delighted that people wanted to go, see for themselves, it also gives a boost to the staff that others are interested in their work.
I would like to thank everyone for their continued support in making Mariama Mae Pre-School what it is - a really lovely school. I would like to thank everyone involved in the curry evening, a fundraising event that took place at Roger and Honors. It was amazing, thank you for all your hard work, what a wonderful evening.
Our school is developing into a place where practical real learning can take place within firm foundations for the staff and children, growing and encouraging confidence and furthering education within their community.
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The news diary is written by a number of people close to the work of the African Oyster Trust, including founder James Holden, his co-directors, trustees and volunteers.