Friday, May 28, 2010

School’s in for British troops on Afghanistan’s frontline

Even in the heat of the green zone of Afghanistan, the education of British troops is still important. Be it developing their core skills in maths and English or completing leadership courses for promotion, it is lessons as usual for British Troops.

Lieutenant Laura Bullen (28) from Bridge of Allan, Stirling is an Educational Training Services officer with the 1st Battalion the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, or 1 Lancs, currently based out of forward operating base Shawqat in Nad-e-Ali. She says: “My job here is to continue the education of 1 Lancs soldiers. The soldiers have periods of down time, they’re not continuously out fighting, and it is during these periods that I’m here to do education.

“I open up the education centre in Shawqat and then anyone can drop in. I have lots of guys on camp who are doing courses at the moment and they pop by when they have a spare five or ten minutes, ask some questions, get some more work from me and then get back to their day jobs.”

Whilst on tour, it’s Laura’s job to teach the soldiers of 1 Lancs and get them through the necessary courses that they need to do. This can mean working out of the education centre or going forward, carrying the kit she’ll need, to the patrol bases and check points to ensure that frontline soldiers do not miss out.

Laura says: “When I go forward to the smaller bases it is quite difficult. I take the absolute minimum resources. I take one calculator and one dictionary but I have to improvise with what I’ve got there - I’ll use stones if needs be!”

For Lieutenant Bullen, who gained her PGCE in adult education through the Army, it is not just about getting soldiers through the necessary courses to promote, it is about giving them lasting skills to take away with them when they leave the army.

“We do basic numeracy and literacy and also Command, Leadership and Management courses, which is the course they need to do to promote. It is actually a civilian qualification as well. It’s Level 1 numeracy and literacy, so they can use it when they leave the army.”

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