We really only have five full days for this visit in which to get a mountain of tasks completed…so we want to make the most of every precious minute the team has!
After the marathon journey from Glasgow we arrived exhausted on Saturday but excited to get stuck in with all our plans.
A very early rise on Sunday morning to catch 6.30am mass at Stella Maris Secondary School for Girls – a school close to the MLOL heart as we’ve been sponsoring a few girls over the years to stay in education. Holyrood Secondary School continue to have very strong links with the girls at Stella Maris – we even had eggs for breakfast from the chickens provided by Holyrood!
Sunday morning mass is always a lively occasion with the girls singing more than making up for getting up so early… and the chance to see Maureen invited up in front of the whole congregation to talk about our project.
Who’s she trying to kid that she finds that kind of public speaking uncomfortable or a chore…
It was also a chance to catch up with Sr Eunice – our longest standing MLOL supporter in Malawi and who was instrumental in capturing our vision and aims way back in 2011.
Today it was off early to an important planning session with our Malawian counter parts – hosted by Paul and Evelyn the District Education Managers for Blantyre Rural and Urban – and to discuss the next phase of MLOL.
Much fuss at the beginning presenting the team with the giant ordinance survey maps with all the urban and rural schools plotted out.
And when we recounted the story that we nearly missed our plane when we had to detour back to Torrance to pick them up on Friday when we realised on the way to the airport that they were missing!
They were to be the last thing folded and packed in Maureen’s luggage…
The funding we received in the last few years from the Scottish Government has allowed us to build a strong platform. However, we were not successful in attracting further funding so this has offered us the chance for reflection on what works.
The meeting was very successful – with agreement reached on how we would like to take forward and shape our senior leadership and teacher training. We’ve set ourselves the ambitious target of reaching all schools in rural and urban…61 in urban and 164 in rural.
A mammoth task – but as we are very fond of saying ….eat the elephant one bite at a time!
We have a plan – a really good plan that we will be testing this week with Maureen and Sharon delivering headteacher and PEA training and Laura taking control of the teacher sessions.
And in good Scottish education training fashion – the Malawian management team will feedback on the effectiveness of the training and how it aligns with Malawian priorities.
Good luck with that guys ;)
As part of the future plans, MLOL has also committed to establishing more and more libraries – so far we’ve achieved 27…just another 198 to go.
What we need now is a donor…with lots of money to buy culturally appropriate books and more importantly a shared vision to help us in our task to improve literacy and attainment and to bring the joy back into reading.
And that’s what’s missing – books are not just for learning – they need to be picked up just to read.
This not only applies to learners but to teachers too.
We still want to see dirty books.
Books that are used every day, books that are well thumbed by little hands …and as Maureen said today…we can all achieve this by making the books less ‘precious’.
Each time when we visit we do witness varying degrees of library use and our hope is that as part of the new MLOL training, where library training will be incorporated, that we will start to see even more of an impact.
So with this in mind, we paid a visit to Anglia Books this afternoon to buy books as gifts for the headteachers who will attend the training session tomorrow and to order some more books from JAWS (Junior Afican Writers) to replenish some of our MLOL libraries.
Tomorrow Fiona and Laura are off with Francis, our driver, on tour…to visit the schools the MLOLs worked in last September…while Maureen and Sharon host their first headteachers’ training session.