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Swindon College PGCE Students Visit The Gambia

09 August 2018

As part of their course, two Swindon College PGCE students have undertaken a placement visit to the Gambia.  They went as part of a small group of students from Oxford Brookes University.   Jess John and Carol Barreto Urrutia left Swindon on 29th May for the two week trip, gaining a wide range of different experiences when they were placed in a variety of organisations in the community, throughout their stay.

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Jess works for the Swindon Borough Council’s Assessment and Child Protection Team and the Youth Offending Team.  Visits to local organisations included to those who deal with youth offending, drug users and female genital mutilation (FGM). Jess also met with the local tribal chief to discuss how he can help to bring positive change to his community.  Jess took a number of practical tools to organisations which will support children who are victims of abuse to help them open up and discuss issues which may be affecting them.   Carol visited, amongst others, the University of Gambia.  As a language teacher at New College, this visit enabled an exchange of teaching methods and resources.  Carol explained that education had to be paid for and families had the difficult choice between educating their children and buying food.

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Jess and Carol made their visits together and with a local guide, so they could benefit from each other’s experiences and knowledge.  Carol said: “The training and resources that we have provided will be used to improve the lives and education of young people.  From our research, we knew that these settings are extremely lacking in resources but we were not prepared for just how little they had.”  Carol took clothes and equipment with her such as pens but could not believe how poorly equipped the schools were, with even chalk being in short supply.  She said it was shocking to see the poverty and the way that some children were treated and that it was disappointing to see that behaviours are not necessarily changed by visiting other communities where children are treated with more kindness and understanding.

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Jess said: “Our aims were to visit and educate schools, children, parents and law enforcement organisations about these issues which meant that we covered a lot in the short time we were there.  We have been asked to return, so it has been a very useful and valuable trip in terms of what the community has taken on board.”

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