Sunday, 31 August 2008

Carifesta X Guyana

About every two years, a huge festival is held in the Caribbean. It started 36 years ago in Guyana and it has returned here this year for Carifesta X (ten).

The whole week has been full of activities - cultural, religious, culinary, literary etc. It has been a great success and Guyana has done itself proud. They are to be congratulated. From an outsider's point of view it has been all it should have been. It seems, however, that a few Guyanese boycotted it for political reasons. That's sad because anything that brings peoples together cannot be a bad thing.

We enjoyed it and went to a literary evening with readings from Guyanaese writers, a children's play performed by the children Mary works with, the Amerindian village, Sophia exhibition centre - arts and crafts and an excellent performance by a St Lucia Dance Troupe who performed the Village dance with such energy that we wre exhausted just watching it.

The opening was marred by rain at first but when it cleared it was excellent. We saw it on TV as tickets were hard to get for the National Stadium. But the rest of the week has had little rain and has been in the 90s feeling well over 100 with the humidity. But that's the way it is here.

The Bahamas will have a lot to live up to in two years time. The closing ceromony is tonight. Well done Guyana!

To see the official website of Carifest, click here

Slideshow of Carifesta X

Peter and Angela's visit

We want to thank Peter and Angela for making the 14,000km return trip to visit us here in Georgetown, Guyana - no mean feat when you consider the journey, the heat, the humidity, the mosquitoes and of course, the expense. They arrived after a slight hiccup with flights and runway lights (nothing serious) on 13th August 2008 after a week's stay on Palm Island in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

We had an excellent week. We visited Bartica by speedboat and walked to the monastery (nothing like you would expect in England). On our return we stayed one night in the Toucan Inn in Meten Meer Zorg and then back to Georgetown.

Peter and Angela went to Kaieteur on the Sunday. We spent time in Georgetown loooking at the tourist trail (if there is one!) - museums, zoo etc. We had lots of lovely meals and imbibed a fair portion of Rum punch with excellent conversation.

We finished up at Cara Lodge for a meal on Wednesday night. It's an old colonial style restaurant with excellent food.

The visit was too short but life is like that and they had to return for work, examination results and all the mundane things in life. A wonderful time was had by all.

To see some more of the pictures, see the slideshow below:-

To see the full size pictures, click on the picture below:-

Peter and Angela's visit

Master Trainers' Workshop

Stephen addressing Master Trainers with
Minister of Education Hon. Shaik Baksh and Mr Goolsarran (Director of NCERD)

The main part of my job is to train the Master Trainers who train the aspiring Heads and Headteachers in post on the Education Management Certificate Programme. I am also responsible for rewriting all of the materials for this programme. I am half way there. One of the reasons why I have not done many postings on this blog is because I have been preoccupied with a lot of training anf the prepartaion in the last couple of months. In addition I have been working on the NCERD website which is now in the form of a blog.

Anyway, back to the workshop. There were 32 Headteachers / Regional Directors / District Education Officers who all carry out this task. We met for a full week's training in NCERD. A full report on this workshop can be found on the above website or click the link below to go directly to it:-
Official Report

Report with Pictures
Thanks to Mary for so ably assisting me throughout the week!!!!

News for May and June 2008

It's 29th June 2008 and this must be the longest time I haven't kept the blog up to date. but we were away for three weeks so I'm sure you will forgive me. It's just after nine on Sunday morning and it's hot again. We are in the middle of the rainy season and we certainly have had a lot of rain especially in the last few days. Yesterday, going to the market as you do on a Saturday, I was as wet as if I had stood under a shower for ten minutes. But so was everyone else, so it didn't matter.

Life is certainly very busy for us and will be until the end of our placement in February. Mary has been working with Meg on the National Literacy fast Track Initiative. They have been training people (some teachers, some students, some members of the general public) to teach reading in after school clubs. It is an enormous workshop and they have to train the whole country in three day workshops so their work is cut out for months and then they will have to monitor and do follow ups so there will be no let up.

On the other hand, I'm not training at the moment. All that will start again when the course starts in September. Then I'll be off to the deepest parts of the country. Currently, I am a bit office bound because I continue to write the programme. Now on to Module 4 of 9 which I must finish by Christmas. Tall order considering all the other things I have to do. This one is about the curriculum and is probably the hardest because it will need a complete rewrite. It mainly deals with secondary education and needs to be slanted towards nursery and primary as well. What do I know about nursery schools? I know that the children hang onto your ankles an awful lot but that's all. So I will have to be a fast learner.

Social life as always has been good but I have opted out of one or two things but Mary is up there with the best. She went to the FIFA world cup match played at the new Providence cricket ground (I though the pitches were different shapes!!!) and saw Guyana beaten 2 - 1 by Suriname, the Dutch speaking neighbours but she said the second half was really great especially when the crowd turned up. I think they expected it would be like most Guyanese things starting 2 hours late but it seems to have started on time because it was World Cup and so lots would have missed the start.

We went to the Brazilian Embassy June Festival yesterday evening. it was packed and a great atmosphere. we followed the theme by going to the Brazilian restaurant afterwards - wonderful barbecue meat!!!! We met with Meg's friends, Maureen and Brian who are over for a week or so.

And that's all our news for the moment and I'll try not to leave it for a month next time.

It's 31st May and another month has almost come to an end and we've been in England for almost a week. Stayed with Dad and then came to Swindon to visit Peter and Angela. Made us unbelievably welcome as always. Going back to London today and the tour continues!

It's 24th May and we're flying off to England via Trinidad in just 4 hours! Yippee. Hope to see some of you there.

It's 17th May and we are seriously into the rainy season. So far not as bad as last year but little and often. Never mind, that's the way Guyana is.

Since we came back from Barbados we have not stopped, especially Mary. Working alongside her VSO partner in NCERD Meg, they have delivered a five day workshop on the new National Literacy Project to Educators (teachers) from the north of the country, given a presentation to Jamaicans on the Literacy Hour (including one hour video they produced), given a two day Fresh Start Literacy workshop and on Monday, they will be off to the East of the country to do another 3 days on the National Literacy Project.

On the other hand I have been plodding away at the rewrite of my Headteachers' course. Writer's block has definately gone and now making good progress. Hope to complete another module before we go home next Saturday for a well deserved break, although I don't think it will be a rest. I have completed the preparation of the next set of HT exams and presented it to the exam board as well as all sorts of things such as working on the Education Strategic Plan.

Looking forward to seeing any of you who may be around at the time. See over to the left for some photos of the last few weeks.

It's 6th May and Barbados is already history. We had a wonderful time - aquamarine seas, white sand, perfect weather, wonderful food and and and..........

Back to work today and a lot of frustrations for Mary and Meg, but that's another story. My Education Management Certificate results were the best ever - 99% success. So I must be doing something right.

News for August

It's 31st August 2008 and having a lazy day after Carifesta. Martin and Nicolette return today from Canada and will have dinner with us tonight.

It's 26th August 2008 and Celia (volunteer from Mabaruma Region One) has returned from England on her way back to her placement. More problems with planes and so she didn't get to until 3am. We went to city Hall to see a St Lucia Dance. Brilliant!!!

It's 24th August 2008 and Cheryl has come for the night (volunteer from Corriverton). We went to JR Burgers for a bit of western style food as it was Meg's last day before she goes to New York to see her son and England for a month. We always go to JR's when someone leaves.

It's 22nd August 2008 and Derek and Trudy (volunteers from Bartica) came for the weekend. It is also the starte of Carifesta. See main article on the right.

It's 22nd August 2008 and did the second part of my presentation. Again, it seemed to go alright but I'm not sure that they really wanted to hear what I had to say but were polite and told me I had given them food for thought. This type of training is my least favourite part of my placement and I have to confess it causes me a lot of stress. But it's over now.

It's 21st August 2008 and Peter and Angela are already on their way home after a superb week of adventure, chat and the occasional Rum and Juice. Today I had a big workshop presentation with all of the Regional Education Directors and all of the Offoicers of the Ministry of Education. It was a real challenge for me as i was asked to describe education as it exists in Guyana from my point of view and then give strategies on how to develop it. It went OK but was far from easy.

It's 13th August 2008 and Peter and Angela didn't arrive last night but were directed to Trinidad where they stayed in a hotel for 3 hours and then got the 4am flight to Georgetown. Some violent lightening storms put out the lights on the runway in Georgetown and so they couldn't leave until it was light. We met them and the adventure started. See main article on left.

It's 12th August 2008 and our friends peter and Angela are arriving today at around 10pm.

It's 8th August 2008 and the workshop is over. It was a great success, a triumph because i got a standing ovation at the end so they must have liked it. Lots of hard work but makes you feel good about what you do.

It's 4th August 2008 and today I started my biggest workshop of the year - Master Trainers from all over the country - 32 of them. They are the people who train the Headteachers and I train them. What a responsibility.

It's 27th July 2008 and I am on my own. Mary is in Mahdia in Region 8 with Meg delivering her fast Track Initiative Literacy Workshop. I'm pleased to report that we are both well and thriving in Guyana.

It's 9th July 2008 and it's Matt's birthday. Happy Birthday, Matt. I always seem to be saying how busy we are and it's certainly true. We had a three day weekend because of Caricom Day. It's like the EU for the Caribbean. We were saying how much we enjoyed the extra day but we are also really looking forward to the 7 day weekends we hope to enjoy when we get home. Yes, we are starting to think of home as it gets closer because there is so much to do in just 7 months.

Mary continues to do her Phonics Fast Track workshops and will be doing some serious travelling with Meg in the next few weeks. 3 -5 day workshops in Bartica Region 7, followed by Mahdia Region 8 in the mountains and the next week Mabaruma Region 1. All require a long boat or plane ride. I will be a lonely batchelor but I have enough work to do to keep me occupied.

My deadlines are now that I have to have 5 modules print ready (about 80 pages each) by 18th July. A tall order but it will be done. So, my computer in the office is red hot and I am churning it out at an alarming rate. Thank God for the internet and, in particular, the Standards Site which helps me enormously.

Whilst writing this our landlady has just rung the bell and given me a basket of bananas from the garden. This morning a teacher gave us a bag of mangos so I know what the juice will be next week.

I notice that the longest day in England has passed. Every day in Guyana is the longest day as they are all the same length - 12 hours day and 12 hours night. There's no sense, therefore, of the passage of time except for the rainy season which is now over but the weather doesn't seem to have noticed yet because we have torrential rain almost every day. I battle through the rain on my bike but Mary sometimes gets a taxi as she is performing and can't arrive all wet.