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March 20, 2012 – School Updates, and Hair – by Carol

Posted by on March 21, 2012

I continue to be disappointed in my school.  As you remember they were not very open to obtaining and updating the computer lab – which only has five working computers (John made three of the five work) – which only the teachers can use.  The 900 students age 12-16 are not allowed to use the computers.  Most of them have never used a computer.  I just learned the Ministry of Education requires the school teach computer class.  So there is a scheduled 80 minutes of class a week – which children use as study hall, if they want to study, sleeping if they are tired or mayhem if they are  bored – but never to study computers or any technology.

I have organized a PACT club (Peer Approach to Counseling Teens).  However, the teachers have ban many students from attending because I hold Club meetings during the 3:00 – 4:30 zoo….uh unsupervised Study Hall time.  The Club has been doing a great deal of work on improving study skills – but the kids can’t go  because the teachers are requiring them to stay in unsupervised study hall.  (I think it is because the teachers are mad that we are having fun – and I don’t beat them).

The School did let me have a room on Saturday for a Club workshop.  It was great!  Several PCV’s helped and 45 kids came and we taught public speaking and peer listening skills as well as played games.  It was a six hour long event and I am very grateful that 6 other PCV’s came to help.  The picture above is the “zipper game”.  You have to run through the arms that should open like a zipper so the runner does not get smashed in the face.  Below is a girl who zipped successfully.

She made it!

She made it!

This week we were told on Tuesday there would be a 3:00 PM meeting to discuss the Schools Annual Performance Plan that was completed last year and never reviewed again.  They passed out the plan which included goals, objectives, initiatives, actions, due dates and tasks along with named responsible persons.  We were told it had to be updated by 3:00 the next day as it was due to the Ministry of Education the following day.

Interestingly the entire Guidance and Counseling plan is only about disciplining and reducing incidents of students engaging in bad acts.

The plan stated that there were 47 fights, 30 thefts, 20 cases of vandalism, and 3 pregnancies the preceding year.  The goal was to reduce these incidents to 2%.  “’2% of what?” I ask?  They don’t know but still defend the number – I tell them we will need a second number to calculate 2%.  They persisted in their thought that 2% was an acceptable and right number because it had been accepted last year…….so – OK.

I ask to look at the data collected for this year.  There is none.

However the Guidance Counselor does have a book where he records most “incidents” ], when he remembers.  So I suggest we use the book and extrapolate data.  But they think it has been a good year and decide to simply reduced all incidents by 50% in each category .  I ask how that will impact the 2% target – and they ask why I have to keep going back to that issue as it has been settled that we are required to give 2% as the target.  Institutional surreal insanity!  (I thank the goddess for my 25 years in government and politics that had prepared me for these moments – however  nothing, literally nothing, in the US was ever so boldly made up – that I worked on.)

So many teachers are stressing at this impossible last-minute task – that they cancel classes!!!!!!

I feel this school operates more like a warehouse or prison than a school.  I have almost resigned myself that the teachers will not “be capacity built” – the school administrators do not value providing education so neither do the teachers.

However- I have made a great deal of progress with the children.  More and more kids ask me to help them study and more importantly how to learn.  They are truly amazed at basic concepts such as flashcards and daily/weekly unit review.  I have helped a bunch of students study for a monthly “End of Month” tests and I can hardly wait to see the results.

As long as the students are seeking my help I feel useful.  They also are seeking emotional support and often they are seeking love.  When the kids hug me and tell me they love me many teachers think it is ridiculous – but I wonder how long they will think that if the children’s grades improve.

I love the feeling of knowing what I am doing and being able to see the results.  I love seeing the kids figure out how to teach themselves right in front of my eyes.  I feel needed every day that a child comes and asks for my help.

I must find a way to get past my negative feeling for the administrators at school.  I need too – so I can find the patience and strength to go back and try and get them to help the children, their charge, their future.

I would be so happy if I could do that, but I am still pretty happy now – with moments of deep deep frustration.

PS – On the School Annual Report project  –  My team was quite impressed that I could put all the numbers in a table and make it into a graph.  The  graph now serves “as proof” that the 50% reductions in bad incidents actually happened.

On a side note:  John’s hair is a constant source of amusement for me.  I urged him to grow it long while in Africa and told him I would love to see him with a pony tail.  He often stresses about how long and puffy it is – but I tell him I love it and the other day I fixed it for him.  I don’t know how long this picture will last on this sight – so enjoy while you can:

I love him for letting me amuse myself!

I love him for letting me amuse myself!

 

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