by Aliou Sall, Mundus maris

The teachers participating in the pilot activities in the context of the EAF Nansen project of the FAO in 2011 and 2012 had committed to continue working with Mundus maris on using and continuously improving teaching with the context-specific teaching aids for the ecosystem approach to fisheries they had collaborated to develop and test earlier. Positive surprise, despite communication difficulties, this work is still having effects in the participating schools almost two years later.

This was the result of a Mundus maris follow-up visit, 4 to 8 February 2014, to the last review workshop in December 2012.

Bolong Touray, the principal focal point of the teachers involved in the work with the teaching materials developed together had continued working with his colleagues, but had retired end 2013. His successor as Headmaster of Serrekunda Lower Basic School, Ms. Angela Turay had only just taken office. Luckily, Mr. Lasana Touray, a particularly dynamic promoter of the EAF teaching and always interested in improving teaching methods, was by her side to ensure some continuity. Together with Mr. Jassay, they offered hospitality for a first joint stock taking of developments since the review workshop,

The results were rather encouraging as work had continued since. Among the biggest difficulties had been communication between schools and with Mundus maris during this last year. The reasons were quickly pinned down to a broken computer provided earlier by MM and poor or absent electricity mains, particularly in the fishing villages of Gunjur and Tanji. As a result, cyber cafes are few and far between so that using information technology other than mobile phones (on the rise) is not yet common.

The good news is that Gunjur and Tanji have since been electrified, thus doing away with haphazard electricity constructions noted still in 2012.

To improve communication and familiarisation with computer technology Mundus maris provided two more laptops, one for Serrekunda and one for Gunjur. To support teaching in the schools, two digital cameras and drawing utensils for pupils were also provided as these are often in short supply.

Progressively greater ease to communicate is hoped to contribute to consolidating work. The core is, however, to strengthen the links and mutual support between teachers. To this effect, it was agreed that Mr. Lansana Touray will act as the new principal focal point in The Gambia. He will focus much of his activities together with Mr Abou Jassay and Ms Marie Jatta, who have been involved since the start of the Nansen pilot activities.

In Gunjur, Mr. Souley Jobe and in Tanji Mr. Jatta will be responsible for the continuity of work. Mr. Lasana Touray, a recognised mentor for pedagogy in the national education system will provide some mentoring to his colleagues. The basic idea is to keep developing a core team of committed and experienced teachers, who can inspire others. It is indeed encouraging to learn that some of the originally developed teaching materials are being used in interesting settings in class and during excursions.

More information about the work carried out for the EAF Nansen Project of FAO is here.