Student teachers of Gambia College attend a one-day workshop to introduce them to Values-Based style of education
A group of student teachers from Gambia College of Education came to Banjul at the invite of their colleague, Mr Abdoulie Bobb. Mr Bobb has been working with the Gambia Living Values Team since it's inception in 2008 and, although he has been in the teaching field for quite a few years and even held a Living Values Workshop with the students in his last school, he has only this year been able to commence a formal Teaching Diploma Course at Gambia College of Education. He was amongst the group who, earlier this year, attended the Train the Trainer Course and he was eager to facilitate his first training with his co-students. He was supported for part of the programme by Abdoulrahman Kamera, another experienced Living Values facilitator, who had travelled down from CRR to attend. The student teachers are soon to sit their examinations - so time is always tight for them - so it is a double sign of respect for Mr Bobb that they gave up space in their weekend to attend this workshop - which is obviously something so dear to Mr Bobb's heart.
And they were all so pleased that they did! What an exciting and fun filled day it was - quite unlike the lectures that they were used to at college. Mr Bobb had them singing and dancing, acting, discussing, imagining and experiencing all the values and they loved every minute of it. It was a day filled with laughter and love.
Mr Bobb's style of presentation and his winning smile throughout the day made everyone relaxed and at the same time, brought a sense of realisation that these values were so valuable and necessary in teaching and in the world at large. Of course, the student teachers were mostly young people themselves and so they could easily relate to how mismanaged the world has been and how in need of a return to these values it is. How simple life would be if everyone displayed them today. How easy it would be for the country to develop if people cooperated with each other more. How easy it would be to end the hunger and misery of those who did not have enough - even in their own country - if people were willing to share more of what they had. The Gambia prides itself on being a happy and peaceful nation. And it can become even more so when we tolerate and respect each other, enjoying all the many tribal differences and make ourselves responsible for each other's well being. And how easy and rewarding their job as teachers will be when they themselves implement these values in their classrooms and pass them on to their future students.
After a full day of activites and an African style lunch, Mr Bobb asked for feedback and ideas as to what the group wanted to do from this point onwards. It was explained to them that the Gambia Living Values Group had not yet registered as a CBO (Citizen Based Organisation) in the Gambia because not enough actual Gambian Nationals had yet shown the interest and commitment necessary to fill the roles that would be required. A lot of the present committee were from surrounding African countries or abroad. It was also explained that we have no funding and have a policy of inventing and improvising in order to achieve our objectives.
It was decided that the first step should be to try to register with the Students Union and start a Living Values Club at Gambia College itself to practice the values, discuss programmes and extend the idea to other trainee teachers. It was also thought a good idea to try to contact schools in the surrounding area to run informal clubs and workshops with their students at weekends.
All the student teachers who attended the Living Values Workshop were extremely enthusiastic about what they had learned. Some said that they had never heard of such a Workshop before and all were eager to continue to learn more. They thought all their fellow students would love it as much as they did. Mr Bobb will continue to inspire them to make the group grow throughout the College and they were very keen to be the pioneers of such a movement in the Gambia, recognising that through them the next generation of Gambians will be citizens possessing all these values and so will help to make the future Gambia into the country of their dreams.
Living Values Education comes to Maahad Senior Secondary School in Brikama Western Division of The Gambia
Maahad Senior Secondary School held a one-day training workshop to introduce the values-based education system of Living Values to the staff, including the Principal, Mr Lamin Bojang, and his Vice Principal, Mr Lamin Drammeh. The Workshop was run by a facilitator from the Gambia Living Values Association, Mr Abdulrahman Kamera, supported for part of the programme by his brother, Alhagie Kamera.
It was indicative of Maahad School's positive and progressive attitude that they invited the Gambia Living Value Team to conduct their very first Educators Training Course at their school. They welcomed the idea of developing appreciation of the 12 core values - love, peace, respect, responsibility, honesty, humility, simplicity, freedom, cooperation, tolerance, happiness and unity into the school both amongst the teaching staff and, through them, the students.
The lively sessions brought out much lighthearted play acting and laughter as the teachers put themselves into the shoes of their students and tried to imagine themselves in a Maahad School of their dreams. But serious considerations were also tackled and value-based solutions sought for both imaginary and real life scenarios, which could permanently affect the lives of the students.
Maahad is already a very caring school that has stopped using the cane as a punishment long ago and the staff were open to ideas for developing more sensitive approaches to discipline and general student well-being. They all found a lot of useful information and discussed ideas for creating a mutually cooperative, value-based atmosphere which will give the children attending the school a sense of safety, mutual respect and trust, thus enhancing the communication between staff and students and hence improving grades and classroom performance.
All of the participants voted for follow-up training and the opinion was expressed that this workshop had turned out to be one of the most important day's training that they had so far spent. The implications of the subject matter, put across through the powerful and dynamic presentations of Abdulrahman, were compelling and thoroughly appreciated. Some of the ideas were new and thought provoking but Maahad Senior Secondary School definitely wants to be part of the Living Values movement in the Gambia.
Abdulrahman promised to following-up this training with further documentation and support.
Train the Trainer Workshop - 18 - 21 February 2010
LV Gambia team with trainer Mamour Sylla (left) & coordinator Sandy Wansbury (centre)
Mr Mamour Sylla, president of LV Senegal, who had travelled the previous day from Dakar and had lodged with a participant, opened the workshop at 3 pm on Friday 18th February 2010. It was attended by five of the original 20 participants from the Educator's Training held in July 2008. Although it was a small group, the participants have been active and working together as a team since the first training and, through running various small workshops and other events, had developed an understanding of each other's strengths and weaknesses. They felt that they now needed to develop their training abilities to enable them to reach more teachers in more schools so as to accelerate the rate at which Living Values could grow and also to get credibility from the education authorities.
In his opening presentation, Mr Mamour explained that the training was to give tools to Facilitators to show ways for Educators to spread Values Appreciation throughout the Gambia, and in so doing became ambassadors for Living Values in the country and they should reflect all the values in all their daily interactions. All the characteristics of Living Values should be automatically identified in them.
During the workshop he systematically worked through the main topics and activities that the Facilitators would cover in an Educator's Workshop in order to help them to create a Values Based Atmosphere in their schools and classrooms. The Educators should know what Living Values are, the history of the ALIVE Association and why, as teachers, they were being especially targeted for this training as they are role-models in society and have immense influence over the way children and, through them, the community develops and conducts itself. He gave advice and ideas and demonstrated how to implement them. Due to the small number of trainees, it was not always possible to carry out the activities themselves - but the basic steps in exploring, experiencing and expressing values were outlined in full. All sessions started and ended with an enlivening activity to arouse and extend the atmosphere of happiness and enjoyment from one session to the next. Even the cook and a boy who lives in Sandy's garden came in to join in the fun. Another friend who was passing by and who is a cameraman working for the television company immediately felt the atmosphere and recognised the importance and potential of what we are doing and wants to bring the group onto Gambia television in the near future.
On a more serious note, the participants developed strategies to help them impart ideas on how to explore the needs of children and the requirements of teachers and the importance of the development of mutual love and respect between the two. This is in order to change the prevailing attitude of teachers in Gambian schools of flogging and shouting which only creates fear, withdrawal or revenge. It was stressed that in a classroom where there is an atmosphere of care and friendship the child will respond by feeling more able to learn by questioning and even to make mistakes without fear of condemnation, ridicule or punishment. With "difficult" children, Values such as patience, cooperation, understanding and tolerance are uppermost and will also ensure that the children comply with school rules and requirements out of respect and love instead of out of fear. How to conduct sessions on Conflict Resolution and Active Listening was explored in full through role-play and ideas were exchanged as to how to allow the teachers to bring out their own experiences and anecdotes in order to bring direct relevance to the subjects.
Finally, classroom application of the values was covered. Teachers in most Gambian schools would not have time to conduct separate classes on Values - so Facilitators should stress the importance of integrating values into every subject, and try to recognise how different values tie in with the various different curriculum subjects naturally. Advice was also given on how teachers could interact with parents and involve them in the development of their children. The act of inviting them to participate is actually signalling to the parents that you care and are concerned.
In conclusion Mr Mamour encouraged the participants to do wonders in the Gambia after this training and suggested that they should work as a team, using the strengths and skills of the individual members to cover the different aspects required. They should make sure that their few materials are shared and made available to all members to ensure maximum benefit is made of them. He encouraged them to continue, and applauded their courage and enthusiasm even in the light of no funding. But most importantly they should continue to show that these values are within them and that by practicing them, and training more teachers to impart them to the future generations, the Gambia will become an even better place to live.
Sandy in turn expressed the deep and heartfelt appreciation of the group to Mr Mamour for coming to conduct the training. It is only through him, his sacrifice, his selfless dedication to this Values Training and his smiling personification of Living Values itself that Living Values in the Gambia has had the opportunity to exist.
Thank you again Mamour. We love you too - and we won't let you down.
Living Values Education Workshop, Banjul, The Gambia, 27 / 28 July 2008 summary report
We are happy to report that our first Living Values Education workshop in the Gambia was a great success. The 20 participants who applied to attend all turned up and all (and more) were so enraptured that they came back for Day 2! The event was held in the home of a well-wisher in Banjul and was conducted in Wolof with English translation. Gambian-style lunch was provided for all participants.
The trainer was Monsieur Mamour Sylla, president of LV Senegal, who travelled by road from Dakar to voluntarily conduct the workshop. He was lodged by another well-wisher and transport was made available for his use. He came at the request of a group of educators who want to establish Living Values into schools, community groups, voluntary organisations, etc. in the Gambia.
Mamour's sincere and delightful delivery of the essence of the theme quickly put everyone at ease and everyone was soon deeply enthralled. It was clear even within the first morning that more and longer workshops would be required as soon as possible to explore more fully the potential of these universal values (such as peace, love, respect, tolerance, unity, honesty, cooperation, simplicity, responsibility, freedom, happiness) and how to implement them in our society.
Trainer, Mamour Sylla (left) with the LVE Gambia choir!
Participants were able to quickly experience the effect of Living Values in the classroom by taking part in various activities, which brought about a loving and humorous atmosphere within the group, and many people's attitudes changed dramatically as the course progressed to Day 2. They felt these values flower within them and they understood more fully the vision of Living Values Education.
Introductions - an interactive activity
Overview of LVE international
LVE in Sénégal - discussion
Personal values - reflection
Values of Gambia
How can we sustain our values?
Values Activities - Cooperation
Creating a values-based atmosphere
The needs of a child - reflection
The qualities of an educator
Values in early childhood education
Reflection July 28
Reflection / feedback from yesterday
Taking care of ourselves - the needs
of the teacher
Conflict resolution - role play
Working with parents
Implementing LVE - practical advice
Evaluation of the benefits and
results of values-based education
Vision and action plan
Feedback on the training
Active listening exercise: This activity enabled the group to draw out ideas on good listening and communication skills and attitudes, based on their own experience. We need to be friendly, speak clearly, politely and with respect; listen attentively, give advice only when asked for, encourage, and allow others to express their own ideas. The importance of facial expression, gestures, sensitivity to the other person's feelings, receptiveness, being open etc. Don't interrupt, ignore, criticize, argue, insult, overrepeat, raise the voice, and please don't give too much advice!
This experiential, participative style of workshop is something unique to Living Values and is very effective. Comments from some of the participants as to the effect of this workshop on themselves were "significant", "surprising", "wonderful" and all found it informative and inspiring and definitely something they wanted to initiate in their schools and in the Gambia itself.
From the feedback at the end of the workshop, the participants said they learnt things that they had never imagined existed, especially how to bring about the essence of the ideal atmosphere in the classroom - where every child feels loved, valued, respected, understood and safe. Others said they will now be able to cope with the needs of the children who were difficult to handle before. They stated that they would aim to implement whatever they had learnt into their lives now, and when schools open they will impart the knowledge they have gained to other teachers and students.
It was decided to consider setting up a Living Values Association in the Gambia and to hold regular weekly meetings for those who could be more active on the Committee, with monthly get-togethers for the others who had too many previous commitments. All participants wanted to be actively involved in the group and the first meeting was scheduled for the following Sunday evening.
We all want to thank Mamour so much for his selfless contribution to the development of this movement in the Gambia. He is an example and inspiration to us all and we look forward to his next visit and our continued affiliation with Living Values Senegal.
Living Values Education is a non-profit-making association of values educators around the world. LVE is supported by UNESCO and a variety of other organisations, agencies, governmental bodies, foundations, community groups and individuals. It is part of the global movement for a culture of peace in the framework of the United Nations International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World. ALIVE is an independent organisation that does not have any particular or exclusive religious, political or national affiliation or interest.