Everything that we do in Nile Swimmers is based around a strong core of Sudanese volunteers. Without the support of these volunteers, none of our projects would be able to run at the scale that they do. Today was one of the brilliant days when we get to meet up with some of those volunteers and find out what we can do for them. Eighteen of the Aquatic Survival Programme Instructors, who have taught water safety messages in schools and in their communities, returned for a refresh of their skills and the opportunity to become Master Instructors.
In the afternoon, we asked the soon-to-be Master Instructors to think about the lessons that they had taught and the challenges they had faced in these lessons. We wanted them to help other Instructors to find solutions to these challenges and to let us know if there was anything that we could do to make those lessons easier for them.
It was a pleasure to hear the wide variety of experience that these Instructors have being shared and there were some recurring themes in their feedback. It seems that a lot of the older children thought that the cartoon images that are used in the teaching manuals were childish and that gave them the idea that the lesson was beneath them. After some discussion, it was suggested that a manual using photographs to illustrate the same messages might be more appropriate for older classes.
Several Instructors also said that the younger children that they taught struggled to build the messages into the final activity of the lesson, designed to check understanding. Some of the Instructors shared alternative activities that they had found more successful, like asking the children to finish a story that they had started or to act out the right thing to do in a story they told.
Finally, there was one message that caught students out, regardless of age, on a regular basis:
Whilst the message that we hope people will learn from this is “Learn safe ways of helping others without putting yourself in danger”, it seems that in Sudan it is more often interpreted as “If you go into the water, you will be beaten”! It turns out that you can’t beat local knowledge for improving a programme!