Sunday, April 6, 2008

Lomngeletjane



Friday I took the Principal from Salukazi Methodist Primary School to Lomngeletjane to see how the school is coming along and so she could observe the teacher and students. Officially, the teacher who is currently at Lomngeletjane is a member of the Salukazi teaching staff under the supervision of the Principal from Salukazi. Construction was started on the school without following the proper procedures to have a school registered with the Swaziland government. If the school isn’t approved and registered by the government, it becomes a fully private school which means the school will not receive any government funding. If the proper channels are followed and the school is formally recognized, the government will supply the school with desks, the curriculum, pay the teachers salaries and pay a standard amount for each registered and recognized OVC (Orphaned or Vulnerable Children). Lomngeletjane is in a very rural area and most of the children who will be attending are OVC’s. I am working with Rev. Nyameka to understand what needs to be done and work with the Regional Education Office under the Ministry of Education to get the school registered. The REO is not happy with us for not coming to them before construction on the school was started. It is taking a lot of apologies and grovelling to try and win their approval. We have a meeting scheduled for Thursday, 4/10 to take Administrative members of the REO to the Lomngeletjane site and hopefully get their approval. The visit on Friday gave Ellen, the Principal from Salukazi a chance to see the site, progress being made and to offer guidance on how we should handle the visit on Thursday. Her suggestions and encouragement were most helpful.

While visiting the classroom we found two boys struggling to learn to write their numbers. One was trying to write the number two, but kept writing it backwards and didn’t really know where to start to form the digit. The teacher has several children from different levels in the class but was not using any of the techniques we would use to help the child get started. I sat by the child for a few minutes, prompting him where to put the chalk to start and which way he was to move the chalk. He didn’t understand English, but he was slowly catching on. There was another child that Ellen pointed out to me just before we left that couldn’t even write the number one very well. It was hard to tell from just a few minutes of observation if the child, who was older, had just never tried it before, was having a hard time seeing it, had such low confidence in what he was doing that he didn’t want anyone to see him or perhaps was mentally slow. He could have been so hungry he didn’t have the energy to write and concentrate. Both boys broke my heart. At least the little boy who was struggling to make the number two gave me a big smile when I took his picture. The other boy never looked up.

Please pray we can convince the Administrative board members of the REO to approve the site on Thursday or there will be no point to finish the school because the Methodist Church is not in a position to financially support the school without government assistance. These children need a school because the closest school from this point is 5 km away through a very hilly area.

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