A life in the day of a student:
The students must walk at least 1K down one of the most horrible dusty roads I have ever seen. John also has to walk down this road to get to work every day and he took these miserable pictures.
This is the entrance of the school – the sign used to read Welcome to Kwena Sereto – I doubt that it will ever be painted or readable again.
This picture is of the Head Girl with the school logo. Most schools are trying to transition over to a student body instead of the old Prefect system – but it will probably take another 10 years.
The school day starts at 7:30 AM. A teacher waits at the gate for the first 30 minutes and if a child is late he/she gets beat with the stick. However, if said child can figure out how to crawl through the fence or walk to the other entrance about 3 minutes away he/she can easily sneak in. The guard at the main gate may or may not think it is worth his time to enforce tardy issue. So if you are going to be late – you might as well wait until after 8:00, when there is a 50/50 chance you can miss the beating.
The school day is as follows:
7:30 – 7:40 attendance
7:40 – 7:50 Assembly
7:50 – 10:30 – Four classes that are forty minutes each
10:30 – 11:00 – Tea – Served by kids
11:00 – 1:40 – Four classes that are forty minute each
1:40 – 2:00 – Lunch, served by kids
3:00 – 4:30 – Study – with no teachers
The school works on a 6 day class system instead of 5 days.
Children are required to wear uniforms. About 20% of the student’s uniforms are in tatters. The teachers, the parents and the children do not mind wearing tattered uniforms to school. It is perfectly fine to show up in ripped, threadbare and worn down, clothes, belts, and shoes. Many children have shoes in which the soles are completely worn through, since there is little or no rain, it isn’t that big of a deal (as long as you don’t step on the thorn bushes).
There are no furnaces or air-conditioners. In the winter when classrooms are freezing the children seek out sunshine and skip class to bask in the sun as much as possible. In the summer, when the temperature is regularly over 100, they return to the classroom to seek the shade.
Kids are required to take 9 subjects of which 7 are tested. Computer class and Guidance and Counseling class are required but not tested. A passing grade is 40%, which obviously (to us Americans) indicates the student does not have enough knowledge to move forward, but they are pushed forward anyway – making it harder and harder to succeed.
Below are pictures of typical class rooms. About 90% of the students have a very uncomfortable plastic chair to sit in – the others share. The desks are all metal and about 20 years old. Most look like someone took a ball-peen hammer to the top. About 20% of the desks are in pieces and students must balance them all the time to keep them up. About 95% of the students get desks.
The lockers are in bad disrepair and only 50% of the students get lockers. The
others have to carry all their books all day back and forth and then to home. It isn’t as bad as it might be since only half the students get books and no student has a set of complete books for all 9 classes they must take.
Below is a picture of the student toilets. The toilets at Kwena Sereto are superior to most schools, which smell so bad gagging starts 10 feet outside the door. The students are required to pay an extra 35 pula a month to have the bathrooms professionally cleaned. There is one flush toilet at school for teachers, administrators and staff. Lack of toilet facilities is one of the regular reasons many teachers go home during the day, including myself.
The picture below is our supplies office. John gets about half the things he needs to fix or upgrade our home from there.
The eating conditions are the very very worst thing about the school. Even the teachers constantly beg the school to do something to improve the “feedings”, which is what they call tea and then lunch.
They make the Prefects serve meals every day. The school mostly serves palache (like grits), samp and beans (like hard corn and beans) or porridge (sorghum) for every meal. Twice a week they get a piece of meat. Once a week they get a vegetable, and twice a week they get a piece of fruit. They must bring their own dishes, and they only bring a plate, which means they eat with their hands.
The lunch is served from dishes that are laid out on the ground. Children are in charge of serving and many fights take place as everyone believes they are getting cheated. No one wants the chicken leg because they consider it the smallest piece.
There is no cafeteria, no table or chairs and the children wonder around the school until they find a place to eat, under a tree or on a sidewalk. When done they must take their dishes to the water pump outside and rinse them out.
Lunch is 80 minutes long because it takes that long for the students who must serve the food to get it out, serve it up, eat and then clean up. While those students are working, other less responsible students finish their lunch in 15 minutes and remain mostly unsupervised for the remaining hour. Again – lots of mayhem occurs during the lunch hour.
When students finish their meals they wash their dishes at the public sinks:
Below is the picture of the famous computer lab.
The picture below is of the Science Lab. As you can see the science lab has a sink, which does not have running water, and outlet that has no electricity, and a gas valves that do not have gas. Regardless of the function, the children still leave their regular classrooms and come to the Science lab for science class. At least it allows them to walk around a bit.
Below are pictures of the school gardens. Children taking agriculture must each plant a plot. The children take the responsibility for the plot very very serious. Most children come to school on Saturday and Sunday to water their plots and the plants grow pretty well. It is obvious that this country still has a lot of agrarian roots.
While the teachers “offices” are much nicer than the classrooms – many professionals would be upset to have to share this space and the lack of resources. This is the “Senior” teachers offices and 22 teachers share this space. As you can see there are no computers.
Despite all this – I work at the second highest preforming school in the district. 80% of the kids score high enough on final exams to go to Senior School. Sadly high enough is 50%. But it is better than nothing.
On to a less serious subject:
The Dogs – For those of you that don’t have Facebook: One of our friends wanted us to have a little Maltese puppy, which we didn’t really want and claimed allergy issues. She told us to take her puppy for a week and if we liked it we would get the available sister. Well – we loved her! We got the sister that we didn’t think was near as cute, and she was also a lot bigger. However, she was 10 times sweeter. She almost never barks and took to potty training pretty well. But we could see she is lonely.
So this week we went and got her sister so they could have a week long sleep over. They love each other so much and we are the hit of the neighbourhood with these two cute cute cute little dogs. We have spent weeks teaching children how to be nice and not have fear. Below are some of pictures of the girls – Rati and Phoenix (Rati is our dog and she is brown)