My time volunteering

The school Principal had requested a DofE Gold Award holder, preferably one who could teach Maths to A level and Physics to O level.  He got what he requested but hadn't expected a female volunteer!  I knew nothing about the boys' DofE scheme, but learnt quickly!  My teaching included three exam classes, and one fourth form, which meant that I became exam coordinator for the school when the time came.

The school was supposedly coeducational but there were only about 20 girls amongst a student body of more than 700.  I only taught one of them.

The impact of my placement

As my main subject was Maths, the main benefit to my students was passing their exams!  I tried to give a positive role model to the girls, that Maths and Physics weren't just for boys.

I arranged for some of the DofE students to visit a village plagued by river blindness to plant and harvest crops for their community service.

My unforgettable moments

My Upper VI Class were all older than me, and all male, in a society that revered both age and manhood.  They had had so many British volunteers teaching them they knew a new graduate was 21 or 22, so I couldn't follow VSO's advice and hide my age.  After a few weeks, one of them said "You know it's not really her fault if she was sent to school before we were"

On a trip into the bush with two of my colleagues, we managed to get lost and eventually visited a local chief's compound to ask for directions.  The chief rather fancied me, and offered my colleague four cows and seven cows if he could marry me!  I've dined out on that story for years!

The impact my placement has had on me

Two main things - I met my husband, at a conference for Maths and Science Teachers!  He was working for the British Council - the so-called overseas arm of VSO at the time, cue teasing about the use of the arm!  we are still happily married 48 years on!

I developed a real commitment to improving education opportunities for girls worldwide.  Currently I am a volunteer speaker for WaterAid.

Navrongo School


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