Working on a CELTA in Sudan is a humbling experience. Teachers earn the equivalent of about £30 a month here and some of the trainees have taken out loans to meet the fee, if extended families weren’t able to pool enough. A turn of the screw came between applications and interviews, with the government devaluing the Sudanese pound by over half. On Day 1 when I ask what they’re excited and worried about, two of them say ‘this course will change my life’ and one puts it ‘this is the beginning of a new future for me and my family’ and I can feel that these aren’t throwaway lines. I know as I’ve never known on a CELTA before that no matter what happens, no-one’s going to withdraw, it means too much to them. Having committed the fee, they need to devote themselves unfailingly to the workload to secure future income. They’re allowed 24/7 access to the Centre and they’ve used this privilege – since they can’t work at home because of distractions in their extended families and lack of facilities – staying late and arriving early. Some have even had to be warned that they can’t sleep there. What if someone doesn’t make the grade? I feel all we can do is support them and then hope for the best. We’ve had to give two fail warning letters and on finding out about one of them, two of the others came to my office and asked if they could talk to me. They’d heard their friend was struggling and had come for everyone in the group to know what they could do this weekend to help him. I felt very moved, as they have their own workload and it shows the point-of-pride generosity of the Sudanese. Though I’ve trained for fourteen years in different places, this has never happened to me before.
Insha’allah, they’ll pass and for those whose grades are ‘slashes’ that their dedication results in the Pass B or Pass A they deserve. We’ll know within a week.