When we entered, the whole class stood and greeted us in unison. After we greeted them in return, class started, but instead of starting math, they sang four songs for us.
Three chairs had been set up for Doug, my language helper and me. All the desks were like picnic tables with detached benches. They had been pushed together lengthwise and width wise to give our three chairs room. There were about 20 students who were absent from either illness or the fact they haven’t paid their school fees and they haven’t been allowed to return yet.
If there were 20 students missing, I’m sure you are wondering who was left…
Well, I counted…just for you.
There were 80 students present!
When a student was called to the board to work a problem, he would stand on his bench, walk across the table, down the bench on the other side, and then to the front of the room. No one thought anything about it.
The pencils they were using were broken scraps. I didn’t see one over 2 inches long. My language helper pointed out one boy who was bragging about his pencils to a neighbor. She told me it was a really big deal to have more than one pencil, and he had five laid out on the table. All of them were about one and a half inches high with a jagged edge of wood where the eraser should have been.
The teacher called me to the board to work a problem, and I did it while telling the class what I was doing in Lugbara language. They said I did it right, but they could have just been being nice.
The rules on the board were things like, “No hitting, no shouting, no abusing, no laughing, and always stand when the teacher or a visitor enters the class.” I didn’t hear any extra talking in class, and there was no misbehaving.
Did I mention there were 80 students in the class?