What will you be doing in Sierra Leone?
Extra Mile Volunteers will work in pre-primary, primary or secondary schools in the fishing village of Goderich. It is a poor, ramshackle settlement situated to the south of Freetown (30 minutes away by bus (poda, poda - meaning ‘slowly, slowly’ ). The schools are varied in just about every criterion used, from size to faith, from wealth to degree of dereliction. No two schools are the same, even next to one another, each has its own story to tell. This pedagogic mosaic does a fine job to educate its young but desperately needs further professional support.
Volunteers may come from a variety of specialist backgrounds or just have a good level of tertiary education, and will assist teachers in a range of subjects. In primary and pre-primary you’ll be teaching basic English and basic numeracy. You may also be asked to help in organising extra-curricular activities. Whilst your school will greatly appreciate your specialist expertise they will also be in great need of your support and advice in building additional capacity in the school and in their staff. Since your school may not always have the benefit of a volunteer to help, the legacy of your work and possible training is what will sustain them into the future. Your expertise may also be needed in the form of training or guidance to construct their own school systems and policies where this is possible.
Here are some examples of some of the work which could be discussed in schools:
- Reviewing schemes of assessment;
- Reviewing and revising resources;
- Reviewing/establishing a behaviour policy;
- Drawing up job descriptions for all staff;
- Reviewing the system of recording of assessments;
- Monitoring attendance (staff and pupils);
- Reviewing the professional development programmes for all staff;
- Reviewing/establishing a system of target-setting.
These are just some of the professional ways in which experienced volunteers may be able to help whilst there are other non-specialist volunteers whose skills can be used to help in other ways. Many of the Sierra Leonean teachers are well-qualified and thoroughly professional and would compare well with many competent teachers in the UK. Working alongside them, encouraging and enhancing their already considerable skills would enable them to help young Sierra Leonean teachers in the future. The essential aim of your volunteer work should be to assist and support them and where possible, build sustainable systems through and with the help of these teachers. The teachers should be the ‘authors’ and ‘owners’ of new schemes/policies which are introduced to the school. It is only by working alongside these professional staff that any real progress can be achieved.
You may wish to bring with you any helpful notes or examples of good professional practice from your previous work which you can adapt or use to guide you in discussions with your new colleagues.
The pupils and staff will be interested in you and in your life in the UK. They will want to know everything about you and your family, so bring along plenty of pictures of yourself, your family, your home, town, and general visuals of UK life.