A big day for me today, my first opportunity to lead some training to ALL Primary and Junior High School headteachers at once….125 of them! I had the afternoon slot, 2 hours of it, following an expert on the teaching of Phonics, who arrived from Accra for the morning.
All schools had been presented with a “Phonic Flip Chart” in June and only two representatives today claimed to have used it in their schools. Albert had come to show them how to use it. The programme started at 9 am and by then the cleaners were just leaving. A couple of unlikely looking tech guys were trying to get a projector and a microphone working. Participants began to arrive and by 10.50 everyone was seated. Albert had begun his presentation at 10.15 and persevered through the movement of people, the testing of sound equipment and constant chatter. He deserved a medal!
The group of influential women, who organised the day, scurried around calling to each other, under everyone’s feet in the small and overcrowded hall. They all wore matching sponsor’s T shirts for which none of them were built. The Circuit Supervisors spent the entire day sorting out lists of participants and getting necessary signatures to enable the payment of T&T (Time and Travel). This is the money paid to each participant for attending and fuel for their motos. The highest priority for some people! The headteachers were trying hard to take an interest and learn something. There are no mid-morning coffee breaks here. Their endurance is to be applauded.
The morning was very busy and Albert did a great job with a lot of humour. Getting us into working groups was a challenge but after sometime the headteachers were focussed on their task. This involved extracting words from a list on a page of the flip chart and putting them in sentences. This was quite hard for some. We circulated around the groups pointing out all the exceptions to rules and helping out where necessary. The organisers were distributing lunch boxes of rice and chicken as Albert was winding up. By then people were ravenous and the final points would have been missed.
15 minutes was allowed for lunch, before our slot on the programme. We were assured of 1.5 hours but it was clear nobody was going to be able to sustain any concentration for even half that period. Rousing renditions of “Head, shoulders, knees & toes” woke everyone up and we were ready to begin. I now had an hour of usable time and the Circuit Supervisors were circulating around the hall dishing out money. You can imagine how much attention I was receiving. I had been cutting my material all morning as the time ebbed away and I was now making one important point about team-building instead of the original four. 3 activities had become one, without the use of Post-its and the whole presentation without the projector which was found to have a fault. (It was only as we were leaving, Gemma noticed that the tech guy hadn’t removed the lens cap!)
The organisers’ Chairwoman, in a badly fitting wig grabbed the microphone at the end and felt the need to shout unintelligibly down it for quite some time before breaking into song. Another woman wrestled it from her and announced the obligatory closing prayer. By then everyone was in the car park heading for their motos and home.
I learned a lot today. None of it was on an agenda.