Now that we’re together here, we’re settling into a daily routine. Work is interesting, and there’s plenty to do, so we’ve agreed to stay until September 2012, although we shall have a couple of trips back to England during that time.
Ian is working on an assessment system for the ten Omega Schools, in English, mathematics and science, for Primary 1 to Primary 6 (approximately ages 5 to 11). There are a number of issues to be resolved, including the development of the tests, how they are run in schools, how they are marked and the data entered, as well as the analysis of the results and how to feed those results back to the schools so they can help to improve teaching and learning. Sandie has been helping with this work, and one afternoon we both went to a meeting of 70 young teachers to demonstrate some of the ways in which we could give them the test results and help them to help their pupils.
As well as working with Ian on this, Sandie is involved in editing/QAing pupil workbooks, and (in some subjects) accompanying teacher guides. Ensuring accuracy and consistency requires a lot of detailed work. She has been working on the English books for next year, but these have been temporarily shelved as the workbooks for Term 2 (January) are coming in, and need to be turned round urgently in preparation for printing.
Professor James Tooley, the chairman of Omega Schools and the man who arranged this opportunity for us, paid us a flying visit last week, and together with Ken (Omega CEO) joined us for drinks on our balcony. It was good to be able to entertain visitors here for the first time. We also had an evening meal at a local hotel with a young representative of Pearson Education. One of our colleagues invited us for lunch at her home on Saturday: the food was wonderful, but there was so much to eat, it’s just as well we don’t have scales here!
Our home is in West Accra, but it’s quite a long way into the city centre and the traffic is awful, so going there takes time and isn’t cheap. ‘City centre’ is a bit of a misnomer: Accra is large and sprawling, and the few places possibly worth visiting are miles apart. Still, we welcome the opportunity for shopping and eating out, which we cannot easily do locally. So we’ve made three trips into Accra so far. The first was made by Ian last month, and he didn’t see much beyond Nkrumah Circle (the busy traffic hub to the north of the city) and the Accra Mall (a new, smart but quite small shopping mall near the airport). On the first of our two trips together we went to James Town, an old historic quarter by the sea. This was interesting but very run-down, and we didn’t feel entirely welcomed there. From there we walked further into the city, past the very smart National Theatre, and then got a taxi to the Mall, where we had a restaurant meal and did some shopping.
On our latest trip we took a taxi to La Beach, on the far side of the city. The beach there is packed with bars, all with tables reaching down to the edge of the sea, and all touting for business. For lunch Ian enjoyed a plateful of ‘lobsters’ – actually a variety of crayfish – and chips, which was very tasty. Sunday lunch on the beach in November – can’t be bad! Afterwards we went to the Mall again and bought a load of stuff for the flat. It’s fairly bare, but James has given us a grant to make improvements. And as we are going to be here for a year, we may as well be comfortable!