Thanks to all who contributed to the recent mufti-day collection and took part in the very popular tie auction in aid of Mr Nicholl's voluntary work in Africa. The mufti day raised an impressive £1,500 while the tie collection netted £1,007.12 with some more money still pledged.
Now Mr Nicholls will undergo three days of intensive motorbike training in preparation for the placement in South Sudan. He and his wife, Linda will work as education advisers with the Ministry of Education. Mr Nicholls will need to use a motorbike to travel around 46 schools in the district around Rumbek, while Mrs Nicholls, who currently trains primary teachers in the UK, will be advising the government on a regional level.
It will be Mr Nicholls’s second stint of voluntary work in Africa as he worked as an English teacher in Sudan for two years after leaving university. The couple also lived in Africa when Mr Nicholls was employed by Oxfam as a Field Director, firstly in Kenya and later with responsibility for Oxfam’s work in four West African countries, based in Dakar, Senegal.
The couple have been planning their return to Africa for many years and they are looking forward to the challenge of living in less-than-ideal conditions in the small town of Rumbek in South Sudan, where the local market is limited to a very basic range of products, electricity is intermittent and there is no running water.
Mr Nicholls said: ‘We have been given posts with the Ministry of Education as teaching advisors. In a brand new country, that is only now emerging from many decades of civil war, the whole future depends on getting children into schools. School enrolment has been very successful, but the average class size is now 129, and 90 per cent of the teachers don’t have any kind of training, so our role will be trying to see what we can do to help train teachers. There is also a massive need for English Language teaching, because the country has adopted English as the national language in an effort to promote unity amongst the various ethnic groups.
‘This is going to be a fascinating new adventure, even if it is a little scary. I will miss front-line teaching, particularly being in the classroom and bouncing ideas around with young people, which is the joy of my job. But this challenge is very exciting and certainly better than just retiring gracefully!’