The conditions in the classes are similar. Wooden benches with attached table tops that are filled with 2 or 3 students. In the larger classes, it is often difficult to get between the rows and many have to squeeze 4 into a desk. Students usually come with pens and workbooks but they are in poor condition. The textbooks are soft cover books for each subject but are shared by each desk and often are torn, missing pages and falling apart. Despite the conditions the teachers carry on, some with a high degree of success. I observed teachers, young and old, who had great teaching skill and good methodology. The lack of hands on resources or active learning techniques made many of the lessons the same but teachers were happy learn and could not wait to have me teach a lesson or demonstrate a technique.
On the school yard, often just a patch of dirt or in best cases an area with trees, students laughed and played just like Canadian students. Many of the girls were excellent skippers and the boys and a few girls loved to play “football” or soccer to Canadians. The African Cup is on now so it is a great topic to engage the students.
Most schools have a nursery program on site and the little ones will come over to see the “mansala” or white woman. They just stand and stare at you and are thrilled to get a high 5!
Next week I begin working with groups of 10 girls in each school who have had struggles reading at this level. I look forward to the personal contact and opportunity to possibly make a difference in their lives.