Geoff Tennant - Promoting access to mathematics for all
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17/8/14: Lodonga, North West Uganda

Just back from a fabulous trip to Lodonga, North West Uganda.  Go any further North and you're in Southern Sudan, any further West and you're in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Lodonga is a village with a primary teachers' college, a lot of people, a very small number of shops (that I could see) - and the Basilica, pictured above.  This is a large Catholic church with a peal of bells as seen below:

The biggest one was tolled every morning at 6.30am. and at various other times.  All three were rung after the Sunday morning service, with one boy on each bell pulling furiously to make the bells go right round the loop - 2 succeeded but the boy with the largest one was defeated, alas!  Music at the Basilica was extraoardinary, with a wonderful blend of local instruments and the most fabulous singing.  Very noticeable that, for the Sunday morning service, there was not a scrap of paper any where - no hymn books, orders of service, notice sheets, and certainly no PowerPoint - and it did occur to me to wonder whether it was the same hymns and songs every week, for it then to transpire that there's a weekly congregational hymn practice - Gad (more later) and I were walking past on Monday afternoon when it was starting, and it was the same stream of people attending as went to the service the day before.  Fantastic!

The roads:

saw the occasional car, and rather more pedestrians, cyclists, goats and sheep.  Now, something I learnt this last week, here is a goat:

and here is a sheep:

How do you know?  Goats' tails go up, sheep's go down.  Now read Matthew 25:31-33 and see if you agree that the passage makes more sense than visualising the British versions!  My particular favourite was this little chap:

Would you agree with me he looks as if he's wearing a waistcoat?

People were fantastic, we were greeted by everybody who passed by, whilst groups of unaccompanied children, some of whom were quite small, shook us solemnly by the hand.  Except for one girl who saw me and burst into laughter, was it the fact that I was the only white person for miles around or my haircut?  Not entirely sure.  In either case, glad that I've now found my purpose in life, to provide merriment for the children of Lodonga.

Many of the homes look like this, this is actually the guard house of the college, feel it's a bit intrusive taking pictures of actual homes:

The reason for the visit was to run a course for primary teachers on mathematics.  I was working with Gad, a former student - thank you for all your support, Gad!  Participants were fabulous, who really seized on the practical approach we were advocating:

I made a rather pathetic looking clock out of cardboard, and was somewhat amazed as participants undertook what became a minor engineering project:

Have to say this is one of the best things about being a teacher at any level - suggesting an idea which the participants take on board and make their own.  Fantastic!

Snakes and ladders proved to be a favourite:

Also, maths trails looking at what maths there is in the environment was popular, taking us back to the Basilica:

So question amongst others: what shapes can you see here?

So, a great week, many thanks to the college for hosting us, I'm really grateful to you for the use of your generator so that I could run my laptop and data projector, we did try to limit the use to the mornings!  Would say that the trip raised for me some difficult questions about international development which I'll look to address in a future post, do remind me if I forget!

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