Wednesday, October 7, 2009

World Teachers Day Celebration

Today I woke up to rain, and it rained most of the morning. The day has so far been cloudy and one of the coolest days since I got here. I haven’t seen a cloudy, rainy day like this since the first week I was here. Last night I was thinking about the end of the rainy season because we have had a few clear evenings lately, but perhaps I spoke too soon. When the sky is clear at night the stars are amazing, but I’ve only seen this a few times so far since it is usually cloudy. The rainy season is beautiful at night too though – the way the lightning here lights up the sky is incredible!

Ok, enough about the weather and on to World Teachers Day, which was Monday, October 5. This was the first celebration of World Teachers Day in Mapaki. The event was organized by the Paki Masabong unit of the Sierra Leone Teachers Union (SLTU). Apparently, this unit is the only one authorised by the SLTU to organise such a celebration. Considering the unit was started only a year or two ago, that is very good.

The day kicked off with a march past by the teachers and students. There were about 60 or 70 teachers in attendance from schools all around the chiefdom, although apparently many of the teachers from further away were not able to attend. There were about 400 students who took part in the march past as well – most of them from Mapaki, but some from other nearby schools as well. I have some photos of this: I have a few videos too but have been unable to upload them as of yet.

Following the march, we had some formal presentations. A representative of the teachers spoke about the importance of investing in teachers (the theme of this year’s day). This is especially true in Sierra Leone, where many teachers are unpaid volunteers, and where training and support for teachers is minimal. The Chief spoke about the importance of education in the Chiefdom. Although in 2002 after the conflict there were very few schools here, there are now 15 government-supported schools and 12 community schools in the Chiefdom, so this is good progress. Chief also encouraged community members and teachers to become involved in the democratic system in order to further advocate on behalf of teachers. I also spoke briefly about the school twinning project and the sharing of information and skills between teachers in Sierra Leone and teachers in Canada.

After the formal part of the day (which took until about 2:30), the SLTU also organized a football game between teachers and a disco at the community centre here in Mapaki. Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling well due to too much sun on Sunday and too much heat on Monday morning, so I skipped both of those activities and spent most of the rest of the day lying down and then went to bed early. I am especially disappointed that I missed the disco, as I’m sure it would have been a lot of fun. I woke up at 4:30 am and the music was still going! Next time I won’t miss out . . .

If you have a teacher in your life, even though World Teachers Day is over, it's never too late to thank them for all their work! So thank you to teachers everywhere!


Canadian Economist said...

Great post Clare! It is amazing how many schools have been build since 2002! Does international aid help fund these schools or their construction?

Clare said...

Yes, definitely. Many of the schools were built by NGOs - for example, Plan, UNICEF, etc.

cdpeace built a school in Mathombo (Gbonkolenken Chiefdom) with funds from a Canadian Corporate Donor (Newport Sports Management) as well.