Day 3 : 23rd April,2007

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It was a mild morning with a fine drizzle falling steadily. I had woken up early with a steadfast anticipation of a new experience in a new environment. I had just finished preparing when Tom walked into the room inviting me for breakfast. I quickly went up with him to the dining room and had our meal. Shortly thereafter we were off to school. As we traveled, I realized Pencoed was some distance away from Broadlands where Tom stays .In fact I thought I would see a school of similar features as Kabundi High School. Almost immediately I discovered I was totally wrong. I was awe struck when a sprawling architectural modern school emerged as we made a turn into its beautiful yard. Most buildings are two storey structures.

Tom and I arrived at school round about 08:35hours.My first day in school was very fascinating. By 08:50hours staff had gathered in the main staff-room waiting for a briefing and my official welcome by the headmaster. It was not long before he walked in and touched on various issues of academic as well as disciplinary nature. He gave a forecast for the week and touched on staff welfare. Finally I was officially welcomed and encouraged to feel at home. The headmaster did also talk about the importance of our school partnership and highlighted the benefits this will bring to our two schools. It was time to go teaching. My first presentation was in the Assembly Hall with Year 12s .I was impressed with the orderliness and a sense of anticipation among the pupils. Well the subject was HIV/AIDS and health issues affecting Zambia and Wales. I was struck by the lack of knowledge about HIV/AIDS among pupils. I must say the presentation received a very positive reaction among pupils as well as members of staff who were present. A pupil came out and said her uncle had died of HIV/AIDS related ailments and this affected her mother so badly. She said she was going to share this information with her mother. I hope this is sign that HIV/AIDS will be discussed freely among pupils and in the community at large. They say” time and tide wait for no man”. The school partnership presents an opportunity for us to learn more about the scourge. In essence this will help us learn more about preventive measures as well as mitigations. To achieve this we need to start from somewhere. The dangerous thing is to think that HIV/AIDS is for a particular class of people like homosexuals, poor people or those who are rich, or those in urban areas. This is not the case. HIV/AIDS does not know class or status. In Zambia when the first case was reported in 1983, the reaction among the people was, well this is a disease for the ‘Apamwambas’ that is the rich. In due course the infection rate escalated and the consequences have been very devastating .The disease has eaten into our population both young and old leaving a lot of families economically vulnerable and facing other externalities. Open discussion, removal of stigma and other positive strategies have helped reduce infection rates in various parts of Zambia.

After the assembly I was entreated to a warm atmosphere of smiles, greetings and further questioning. I could sense the kindheartedness of the Welsh people and particularly pupils and teachers in Pencoed. Pupils could run-up to me to greet me in Bemba Yes that is what I said. They greeted me in Bemba saying “Mwashibukeni?” Excitedly I answered back saying “Eya mukwai”.Cultural appreciation is evident here. I also desired to learn some Welsh as soon as I could. Tom did a good job teaching the children the Bemba morning salutation.

The next was a meeting with Year 7s in Tom’s class. The lesson centered on pollution in the local area i.e. Bridgend. We discussed the main pollution issues and ways of combating pollution. I must admit that I was impressed with the level of awareness among pupils about pollution. This was a small class of less than 30 pupils. It is huge contrast with the kind of classes we handle in Zambia. The classroom is stocked with a computer, a projector and other computer support accessories. The class also has internet. The classrooms are connected to a centrally controlled LAN in the Technology Department.

Class photo

I also had an opportunity to meet a Special Education Needs (SEN) Year 8 class. The children asked me endless questions about Zambia. Interestingly one child in the class is from Zimbabwe. My heart goes to these pupils and the teachers handling them. My time with them gave me a unique classroom experience. This definitely would avail a good challenge to my fellow teachers at Kabundi High School. We do not have a special needs class per say. Later I was taken on a tour of the school premises by two senior administrative officers. I was taken to various departments, sports fields and all the offices. One thing I noticed was how well stocked the departments are and the decorum face of the rooms. The rooms are so appealing to learning and teaching.

The opportunity to meet Mrs. Chris Ashman a member of the senior management team was quite revealing to me because I was able to compare our curriculum to that being used in Pencoed Comprehensive. Though she has a major in history, I got an insight of what obtains in the choosing of subjects at the various levels of study. At year 9 pupils take English, Math, Science and Welsh. They then chose three other subjects from a column of subjects given to them. At year 11pupils write public exams with the Exam Board chosen by the subject teacher. Exams come at the end of the 3 term calendar year. That is around mid-May to June. If a teacher opts to change the Exam Board a period of 2 years is allowed for transition. Interestingly pupils do not pay for exams but the school makes an exam budget. At O’ level the cost is £15 per paper and at A’ level it is £10 per paper. For practical subjects like aural and oral in language the cost is £20 per person. As for marking of exam papers the Exam Boards have a choice with who marks. Usually markers include professional retired teachers.

After a successful meeting with Mrs. Ashman, Tom and I had lunch from the School Canteen.Teachers and pupils freely mingled to get food from the counter. This is a very different arrangement from what we usually have in Zambia. The Canteen I would say has hotel standards because it is very clean.

 

Just after lunch, I had another meeting of 16 pupils in year 11.We discussed population and development issues facing Zambia. I discussed the history of development, i.e. in pre-colonial and post colonial eras. We also looked at differences in development between third world countries and those in the West. The day ended with a review of the day’s activities over an evening meal at home.

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