Name: Fatou M. Jatta
Place of Birth: Tallinding
Family: TOO BIG TO COUNT
Occupation: Physical Education Teacher
Fatou is the PE teacher at my school and was transferred there just this past term. Although we have only known each other for a number of months, we have quickly become great friends and allies. Fatou was gracious enough to allow me to interview her and get a better understanding of yet another person within my community. Not to mention this woman is an unmarried, PE teacher in a Sarahule community…talk about breaking the mold. I am always overly excited to post about strong women making a difference here in The Gambia. They are the ones that inspire ME every day! Fatou has told me time and time again that she wants to stay in The Gambia, because The Gambia needs educated change agents to progress development. Preach sister!
Q: Did you always know that you wanted to be a PE teacher?
A: No. As a child, I think we all have other dreams. I had wanted to be a journalist, but it turned out that I got a very good WASSCE (West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination) grade after my senior secondary training. I am now very happy with my schooling. (This high grade and achievement allowed her to go on to the College and pursue education.)
Q: Was your family supportive of your education?
A: Yes, I was even allowed to stay with my step father and auntie in Banjul while I attended Senior Secondary school.
Q: What were some challenges that you faced during your schooling?
A: There were many challenges. Transportation to and from school, being able to afford books, and in general, lack of money. I didn’t even plan on continuing education. I was going to try to get a job and make money, but my WASSCE score allowed me to teach instead.
Q: Why do you think that PE is important in schools?
A: You have to be healthy to make a living. Also, PE is a very easy and fun subject to pass, so students feel like they do very well in something. It gives them motivation.
Q: Is there equal opportunity in PE for girls and boys?
A: No. There is not. Girls are taught to be shy. Maybe they have the skills and the abilities even more than the boys, but they are afraid to show. Boys are taught to not be shy about it. In some areas, the culture also effects girls and boys. Some girls may not even be allowed to play sports because of beliefs. Some people think that sports cause infertility or it is just not good for women.
So, I try to educate that these things are not true.
Q: Were you ever shy with sports?
A: Of course! I was very shy. You have to force yourself to do things. I didn’t have too much support in sports, so I just had to do it myself.
Q: Through your teaching, how do you want to impact your students?
A: I want to see my students be good leaders of tomorrow, I want them to learn how to be hard workers, and I want them to pass even my state. I want them to go past college and do more here in The Gambia or in the world.
Q: What other hobbies do you have?
A: I love to eat. (This girl gets so much crap from the other teachers on how much she loves to eat) My choice is chicken yassa (MINE TOO!). I like to listen to music, and I am happy to socialize.