Thursday, February 21, 2013

Looking at school through new eyes

Molly came to see me the other day.


She was one of the students in my small group at camp last August.

We had a good visit, and she really made Keira laugh. She is such a jolly person, so I’m not surprised. I took video of Keira laughing, so I don’t have a still-shot to prove it.

Molly started her last year of secondary school at the beginning of February. When I asked where she would go for university next year, she said she hoped to go to a university in Kampala to study literature. 

I told her I had been an English major, so we found a common ground of things to talk about. I asked
 her what novels she had studied recently.  She listed three:  


I hadn’t heard of Fate of the Banished, by an African author, but I had read the other two.

We began discussing them, but she didn’t seem to know about the ending of either of the other two stories.  I asked why.

She said there are 18 girls in her class, (She goes to an all-girls school) but there are only five books of each type at their “library.”  She said if you start a book and set it down, any person will come and take it to read and on it goes.  She has started and stopped it numerous times.

I asked if she had finished any of them, and she said no, but she felt that she might get to this year.  They were assigned all the same books for the second year in a row!

I know we pay school taxes in America, but it seems so different here for me to see students and parents trying to find enough money each term so they can attend school.  They also have to buy their uniforms and books.  If they are boarding, which many do, then they pay even more for housing and food.  So many people make so little money, and they either have to support multiple children or decide which ones get educated and which ones don't.

I think I’ve told you before how a student can attend all year long, but at the end of the year, if he doesn’t pay any remaining balance, he doesn’t get to take his exams.  He then will have to repeat that year, if he can find enough funds to start again.

Boarding school also doesn't look anything like you imagine.  The students wash their own clothes, get their own water from the well every day to bathe in a basin, provide their own dishes to eat on and wash them after every meal, stay up late studying by flashlight or candle and are up before sunrise to study some more.

You will also realize the strain that school starts to take on a family.  

These are pictures of two primary classes I visited that are near my house.  You can see how full they are.  In one Kindergarten class, I counted 105.

For Molly to be in her last year of secondary and only have 18 girls in her class.  It lets you know how hard it must be, as time goes on, to continue paying school fees.

I know many of us would say we only liked the social aspect of school, but I also want us to be appreciative for the education we were each allowed to get for free.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

And in private middle school they have to get up at 4am to do homework, go to school until 5 and then do homework from 7 until 9. There is nothing else to do, but seriously, if they had good teachers they would really be learning so much more than our kids do. Unfortunately the teachers there think critical comments are more helpful than encouragement. Their report card comments are so insulting when they are less than the top grade. My young girl got caned because the map she drew was not acceptable.