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The Chief Rabbi’s Ben Azzai Programme: Participant Review

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Educate out of poverty

As a group of university students, we have become accustomed to lectures of 50, maybe 100, people. Aside from the occasional dozing off you see around the room, it seems to work well. Imagine this in a Primary school with 1 teacher, 120 children and a small classroom with the task to teach them how to read and write. This is the reality that we saw today.

What was most striking was seeing the tremendous effort the teachers went to when faced with limited resources. We asked a teacher what his favourite subject was, he replied ICT. You may be thinking as we all did that they must have invested in computers for the school.

However, we soon learnt that ICT consisted of learning the theory of how to use a computer while having no actual computers.

This idea seemed so bizarre and absent from our own experiences of ICT lessons. However, it highlighted to us how important this lesson was for the prospects of the students to enter further education and to hopefully get a job. Children acting with pictures and using their imagination to demonstrate how to complete tasks such as saving a document is a small part of positive social change that we have been seeing.

The Tzedek run twinning programme between the Ghanian and London Jewish primary schools was another focus of the day and we got to hear first hand how much of a positive programme this was.

For the Gumani Nuri Islam Primary School that we visited, the teachers told us about how much their pupils gained through learning about life outside of the small rural village in Ghana.

Despite limited resources, we saw the impact of excellent teachers as one of them re-created his classroom environment to do one of the joint lessons from the twinning programme. We had to draw and describe our view from our window at home, just as the primary school children do in London and Ghana as part of the programme.

As well as relieving our childhood with an array of crayons, we experienced some of the methods the teacher uses to control his large class in Ghana. We didn’t dare loose concentration as we didn’t want to disappoint our new teacher!

With education being so important, this experience really highlighted how important it was for the schools teachers to be passionate and well trained. This factor was further discussed between the group following a Tzedek ran activity which sparked a debate on whether a comfortable learning environment or well trained teachers is most important for quality education.

This was just one element of our jam packed and inspiring day. We were lucky enough to end the day with a traditional drumming and dancing performance by a local group.

The high spirits and positive energy of the Ghanian people is continuously uplifting.

By Lauren Keiles, Jordana Price and Felicity Greenfield, Ben Azzai Programme 2017 participants