‘I love Uzbekistan’

My second day at St Andrew’s and yet more fun and frolics to blog about for the online world to devour. Well, probably not the online world. Just a tiny, miniscule fragment of it. But hopefully enough people for this byte-sized blog to be worth writing anyway.


Notable events today. Well, there was the bizarre science lesson. Trust me – this is truly weird. The school has recently switched to the Sudanese curriculum which on the one hand makes everything a whole lot more structured than it was before, but on the negative side … well, the negative side is best illustrated by using this lesson as an example.


It was called ‘Our Dwellings’ and involved a substantial discussion of Family Roles. That’s right – in a science lesson. So, the teacher asked, ‘What is the role of the father?’


Hands shot up from all over the classroom: ‘Miss! Miss!’ ‘Pick me teacher!’

Various people were chosen, and the results, for your educational needs, were as follows:


– To protect the family

– To earn money

– To make decisions


The mother meanwhile, has the following jobs:

– Going to the market

– Looking after the children

– Cooking


The main responsibility of children is to obey their parents. Of course.


Me and another volunteer sat slightly bewildered during this lesson. I couldn’t resist smiling and one student picked up on it:


‘Why are you smiling teacher?’


I scrabbled around for an answer: ‘Because … it’s interesting!’


It seemed to work.


But that’s not the funniest thing that happened today. Oh no – that happened when two volunteers did a creative writing class with the children. The main part involved creating an acrostic poem – where the kids would write their names along the side of a page and then come up with a word or a phrase which began with that letter.


Most kids came up with fairly typical words and phrases, but some were … well, we had to wait until after the lesson to burst into laughter. Here are the best:


– I love Uzbekistan (1)

– I like traffic signs

– NATO is my friend (2)

– Tables.


Yes that’s right. Just ‘tables’. Apparently that child’s world revolves around them …


Finally, my maths came under severe strain today when I had to help a class revise how to multiply, divide, add and subtract fractions. I couldn’t remember how to do any of this (I’ve never needed to either!) and so had to be subtly taught by the main teacher of the class whilst he showed them. At one point, therefore, I was standing at the board, with the main teacher giving what seemed to them to be simply verbal instructions for them, but were in fact codified such that I could do it properly … it was slightly tense.


Having re-learnt it, I then had to authoritatively go around and help show them how. Luckily the masquerade seemed to work. But this part of maths they find very difficult (although at least they are being taught – apparently maths is the weakest point for most teachers so they stay away from it).


1 So, it seems, did Blair and Brown – very unfortunate given the regime’s treatment of political opponents

2 Unfortunately (and I almost didn’t post this because it ruins the joke), it turns out that one of the new students in the class is called Nato.