The rooster wasn’t heard from this morning. Maybe the early worm got this bird! Not so the other birds – they were calling out to each other waking the neighbourhood as usual. I just rolled over.
Based on the previous day’s review, we decided that we were going to be ready to leave the lodge – with all of our gear – at 9:00am so that we could start our activities at the Msalata school at 9:30am instead of just after 10:00am. We were also going to be more prompt with the start of the afternoon bible club at 12:00 noon so that we got through everything.
And we did leave at 9:00am! When we got to the school the standard 7 class were busy doing an exam. Just like home, everyone was looking carefully and not a little nervously at their exam paper. Just like home, the invigilator was carefully studying the class to make sure that no one was copying or cheating or talking to their classmates during the exam. Just like home, silence was being maintained. However, I don’t think any exam at home has ever been disturbed by two Landrovers driving through the middle of the exam room on their way to the car park!
As you will see from photos, exams are done outside in the school grounds with everyone separated on their own patch of earth about 3 metres from the next person. Makes sense – because with up to 100 people in a 4m by 6m classroom, its going to be hard stopping copying.
Today we would be doing our Bible clubs with the standard 5 class. (These children are two years further on in their education than yesterday’s children. Not necessarily older as education is very much a case of meeting the standard in order to move on.) Again the class was split into two groups (one morning bible club, the other afternoon) for the purposes of control and space as trying to do everything with a class of over 110 children in a small classroom was never going to be possible.
(And this is something that we don’t always appreciate in African schooling; Yes, education is valuable and everyone – locally, nationally and in the international community - wants it to happen; Yes, class sizes are large because there are a lot of children and not so many rooms or teachers to teach. But it’s the physical cramming of people into a room that is half the size of a UK classroom that I think we lose sight of. Any teacher will say that giving your attention to more than 25-30 children is very difficult – therefore 100 is really going to affect negatively what you are able to do. But couple this with the fact that at an old style school desk (Seat and desk combined) that is only about 4 feet wide you might have 4 or 5 kids huddling together normally doing their work and it’s a miracle that any teaching/learning at all is possible)
So, we start as yesterday with our choruses – except this time these children already know the choruses. The singing was awesome, as were all of the actions. They all listened intently during the little talks and then started into their craft – which was different this time around – colouring in Crosses and paper plates and sticking the cross to the plate per our example. Except, how do you stick a cross to a plate without some form of adhesive? Doh! So while this situation was rectified, the rest of my team held down the fort going through the memory verse in Swahili and in English. The kids English was very good – both written and spoken – something they were all very proud to demonstrate – as indeed is everyone in this country.
I can also say that the colouring in by the class and the decoration of the rims of their plates was really good, given their age (approx. 10-11). So going back to my previous comments, how capable could they be, given half the resources that children in the west receive?
Group photo in class. We say “cheese”, they are told to make their mouth like a banana. The girls huddling up close to our girls for the photo couldn’t resist in touching their skin and feeling their long hair! Real moments!
We headed out again after this for our games. Maybe because they were older. Maybe because they could teach us the Swahili for the colours or maybe that they were just a bit madder than the last lot, the parachute game became a huge source of fun. People were getting caught under the parachute and not being let out; some didn’t seem that fussed on being let out; some saw this as a chance to dance under the parachute. How many parents when their child has come home from school has asked said child what had they been doing to get their uniform in such a state? I’m sure the same question is being asked evening in most of the standard 5 students homes! I just hope its easy to get the dust out of their shirts and jumpersJ.
On then to football, however not before a recital of their favourite players and subsequently a mass chanting of the names of both Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku! Manchester United fans are everywhere (except maybe Manchester?). The game was not too different to yesterday’s – no quarter given or taken, tackling as fierce as anything witnessed 30 years or more ago in the First Division. Beware of flying shoes or flip flops! And after about 20-30 minutes the ball has gone down – burst on a thorn. (That doesn’t stop the game, mind you).
This time for the girls there was skipping – which they were very good at – and also a dance lesson from Ms Wilson and Ms Skilling (or were they teaching them?)
At 12 noon we called an end to the morning bible club and our second team took the bible club for the remainder of the class that weren’t at the morning club. The enthusiasm they witnessed was just as that witnessed by the morning team, both within the classroom and out in the playground.
While one group were running their bible club, the other were finishing off the painting in two of the classrooms we had decided to renovate. We completed that and now the kids in these two classrooms have a slightly better environment in which to learn (its brighter, even though its still going to be as crowded).