Em's reading camp report


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Em's reading camp report

  1. 1. September 19th, 2011<br />Emilie’s Report: Pobé-Mengao Reading Camp<br />Overall I was very pleased with the camp in Pobé-Mengao, especially considering it was Pobé’s first. Throughout the week of September 8th -13th, we followed the camp schedule prepared back in June. The children loved the various sessions: reading activities, arts and crafts, singing, etc. In several earlier camps there were complaints that the HIV/AIDS and maternal health books were too difficult and did not serve its desired goal with the students. For Pobé’s camp, Dounko altered the health sessions quite a bit by organizing easier, more comprehensible activities. For example, he kept the students in one large group, asking simple questions about their knowledge of different diseases. Then he would go into the basics of HIV/AIDS, explaining what it is, how it is caught, etc. After, he read the HIV/AIDS book to the children, pausing after every page to ask questions. The following days he would always review previous discussions to ensure the students understood. This was successful and it seemed clear that Dounko made appropriate changes after the initial problems. Unfortunately, the students were at times rowdy and disobedient. While I often got frustrated, Dounko was able to control the kids and get their respect in a positive way. <br />There were two decent readers but the rest were at a very low level. Five of them could not read, write or recite their ABCs. During one exercise 15 misspelled their own names. I later found out that not a single student out of their class of 84 had passed; the highest grade was a 2.8 out of 10. Also, the students were not chosen properly for the camp. Apparently the teacher said she divided the class into two groups, the good readers and the struggling readers and they randomly choose 25 students from the struggling group. The teacher, Hamidou and the director were in attendance for this drawing. But during the camp I realized that the teacher’s own son and another teacher’s son were in the camp (ranked 3rd and 6th in the class, obviously not ‘struggling readers.’) We made it clear that Hamidou needs to be a part of every aspect of the drawing and that it needs to be completely random. If they want to choose the lowest readers, they should pick the 25 students with the lowest grades. <br />I thought the camp staff worked really well together. The expected teacher could not come due to the altered schedule but the replacement teacher, Mr. Sawadogo, was great. His instruction sessions were straightforward, informative, and he made sure that his lessons reflected the reading, grammar, and spelling errors the students frequently made that day. I would definitely recommend him for future camps. I was also pleased with Hamidou, the librarian. He is still new and has a lot to learn but his efforts, hard work and motivation are obvious. During the beginning of the camp he was hesitant, not wanting to lose respect in front of the children, but by the middle of the camp he was dancing and singing along with everyone. I did not particularly think much of the Assistant, a student who just got her BEPC. She did not really add anything to the camp. She did what we asked but she rarely spoke unless it was for small group work. We had several problems with the woman in charge of cooking. While there was always enough food for the students, she seemed to skimp and keep as much money or leftovers as possible. She did not seem to understand or care about the fact that her work was part of the community contribution. Throughout the week the Mayor and the Prefect visited the library several times, offering words of encouragement. It was obvious that the community was happy that the camp took place. <br />Suggestions: <br />No more red T-shirts! It caused a little drama as red is a taboo color in Pobe. <br />The vast majority of the students had incredibly low reading levels. I personally didn’t feel very qualified or competent TEACHING the students during the small group reading sessions. If funds allow, it would be great, if FAVL could organize a training workshop for FAVL staff and librarians specifically on how to teach illiterate children. <br />This year several camps experimented on working with the 25 lowest readers. Maybe next year we could mix it up, experimenting with the 25 best students. <br />The librarians need to understand that they are important members of the community. Several librarians seem to let things slide with functionaries because of their status. Rules are rules in the library and should be followed by children, adults and functionaries alike. <br /> <br />