My teaching has now started as the students have all returned from their clinical placements. I have been left as the only teacher in the midwifery school as the other 2 onsite teachers have left me to it - for my first week.
I have a class of 73 student midwives and I thought I had one class (we had been introduced previously) of SECHN's (doing their midwifery module) - but no - I found out last Tuesday that I had 2 more groups of about 50 in each - making 4 groups in total.
The 2 groups that I had been teaching - I was working flat out without any break - we get 11.30 - 12.00 for lunch - but my lunch break turned into students who had not been taught shouting at me that it wasn't fair that I had not taught them and why had I favoured one group over another. Well I just had to divide my time into 4 groups being mindful that my committment (or so I thought) is to the student midwives.
My voice is hoarse and I have covered so much that sometimes I wonder what have I taught which group - I have a system now of who I have taught what to.
I understand the other teaching staff are returning next week. There was one visiting teacher who came for 2 periods - but I did not see her.
There is intermittent electricity from a generator which does not work effectivly because of a battery failure. The photocopier does not work - and they are awaiting a service engineer. I cannot print off some of the notes I have done for the students as one of the teachers has some part of the computer that liks the computer with the printer. There is only one printer that works - and that is not currently available due to this missing componant.
There is often no lighting for the students to take notes because the generator is not on. I cant do powerpoint presentations due to lack of electricity. Also to do this preparation - I am unable to do it at my home because I too have no electricity.
I feel frustrated as I could do and offer so much more to the students if only their facilities were improved. The students have IT classes - but they dont even have internet. The books are very small in number - and not all suitable for midwifery today.
The classrooms are so small even though the school is a new build - it makes it very difficult to break into small numbers to do group work.
But despite all this the students did some really good role play and I could see that they had learnt what we had been doing - antenatal care. How to give good care and poor care. It was quite a laugh with 150 SECHN's in the hall.
The students like to sing songs - so I do some and so do they. The students are getting the hand of 'The wheels on the bus go round and round' and 'If you are happy and you know it clap your hands'. I could not translate the songs they sing - but my name comes into the songs somewhere.
The students are just so keen to learn - and it is despirate to see the lack of resources. This country has a maternal death rate of 1 in 8 women and an infant mortality rate of 1 in 5 by the age of 5. Sierra Leone needs midwives and well trained at that.