Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What's happening?

This is a blog written by team leader, Frankie Hine-Hughes that will outline the work of the inaugural Yumba Team.

The work is concentrating on three areas:

  1. Research;
  2. Awareness Raising;
  3. and Resource Development.


As a new project, our team is starting with very little information about: the school, learning disability rights and attitudes; and activities the school is already engaged in that we can be built upon. This means the team is engaging in a large amount of research. Which means a lot of time working in our hot and small office!

One of the main areas of our research is built towards creating specialised Teaching and Learning Materials (TLMs) and expanding educational resources in the area of teaching life skills at the school. The research undertaken by the team will allow them to: develop teaching materials; trial them in collaboration with the teachers; observe and evaluate their effectiveness; and make amendments where necessary. Our team hopes to be able to bring all this together to develop a life skills teaching pack that Yumba and our partners at the Resource Centre can use.

The team is also seeking to locate and develop relationships with local learning disability and mental health experts. It is hoped that by creating a relationship between these experts and the school it will improve the knowledge the school has about the types of learning disabilities the children have. This should enable the teachers at the school to specialise their teaching to cater for the pupils' needs. 
This team will undertake a financial needs assessment of the school. This will enable the project to understand the current financial position of the school and recommend changes that can be made to improve the schools finances.

Awareness raising:

One of our project aims is for the project to raise awareness within the local community about the benefits of integrating individuals with a learning disability into society. It is intended that this message will be delivered through presentations in the community. As a new project, the team will be tasked with creating a presentation that promotes a positive attitude towards people with learning disabilities. The team hopes to be able to trial this presentation before they're due to leave.

The team will also seek to provide support to parents of the pupil's at the school through improving their awareness on the rights and services available to their children. Again, the team will develop a presentation to be delivered to the parents of the pupils at a PTA meeting. To help future teams to undertake more awareness raising activities the team will seek to develop a network of local contacts, amenable to hosting awareness raising sessions.

The team will start work on collecting material for a promotional video that will document: the situation for individuals with a learning disability in Ghana; the Yumba School, its operations and need for support; and inspiring stories of the achievements of people from the local area that have a learning disability. This video will be used as part of future awareness raising and fundraising work.

Resource Development:

Our third area of work is based upon developing the resources available at the school. In preparation for our work, our team undertook a consulation with the Yumba school to find out about their needs and priorities for how to improve the school. During this process it became clear that the schools requires a large amount of infrastructural development. The large amount of work to be done means that the team will have to develop a fund-raising strategy for the school. Therefore, this team will work to build the foundations of a fund-raising strategy. This will include: research into best practice fund-raising campaigns; the creation of a 'how to fund-raise' guide, so that future cohorts and Yumba School and the Resource Centre can use this information to help with their fund-raising. The team will also look to build up a list of potential funds that the can be applied to in-order to make improvements at the school.

The team will also commence work on developing a marketing strategy. This will be created through social media platforms and tools that can publicise the school and its work. The development of social media platforms will also enable the teams' awareness raising activities. The team will start the development of a social media manual. This document will be used to ensure that future cohorts can continue project work with a consistent social media style. The document will also be provided to the Yumba Special School and the teachers will receive training on how to use social media to communicate the school's messages.

The team has already created Facebook and Twitter pages. Give them a like and a follow!

And finally, the team will begin a process of training Yumba school staff in ICT usage. The team will develop ICT lessons and teach the staff at the school in how to use computers. It is hoped that this will and to create an ICT training manual. The team will start to develop an ICT manual and also create and test out lesson plans with the staff at the school. To assess the needs of the staff regarding ICT a survey of the staffs current abilities will be undertaken. Furthermore, the ICT resources available at the school will also be assessed. Following this needs assessment, ICT lessons will be developed and trialled with the staff at the school. At least two ICT sessions will be held.

So I hope that this makes clear the work that this first team is doing to help improve the Yumba Special School and the lives of individuals with learning disabilities here in Tamale.

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