Thank God it's Friday

15th June 2001 at 01:00
Monday My first day of monitoring student teachers in local schools begins with assembly at 7.15am, but there is a fair bit of confusion among the staff. Has the government money been sent for the monitoring? I spend the morning waiting for confirmation that I'll be able to go to the Zambezi, and trying to set work for the student teachers I'll be leaving behind - there are no supply teachers in Zambia. Fortunately, the photocopier is not being temperamental so I circulate assignments.

Tuesday Up at 6am, but I still arrive late at the first school - which has a beautiful view of the Zambezi river - and miss the first two student teachers, who have finished by 10am. I monitor four other students and give feedback before the headteacher walks me to the guesthouse.

Wednesday I'm in Chivombo Basic school where I observe three students and talk with a headteacher who has taken to drinking the local brew, kachasu. He reeks of it. In my last lesson, the classroom is invaded by a large brown snae which the pupils stone to death. I write in my good points from the lesson: "You deal with the snake extremely well." Not a problem you would have in England. We are a stone's throw from the Angolan border - the student teachers tell us that at night you can hear the gunfire.

Thursday Another early start but I'm working with a Zambian lecturer and we're finished by 10am. I've now observed 10 lessons and am beginning to be bored by much of the rote teaching that goes on. I am finding the same weaknesses in each lesson and feel as though I am repeating myself to each student.

Friday I return to Lwanpungwa Basic, the school I was at on Monday. I observe the two students before stumbling back under the hot sun to the guesthouse to relax and watch satellite TV. Looming over us all is the 10-hour journey back to Solwezi tomorrow. I watch The Empire Strikes Back as my end of monitoring treat.

Kieran Packard is a VSO volunteer at Solwezi teacher training college, Zambia

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