Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Another Lomngeletjane Update.

Below you will find the picture of the finished building at Lomngelejtane. Yeabo! Then there’s a picture of the two desks that John, the builder of Lomngeletjane, built out of left over scraps of wood. Yeabo again! If there is enough wood, he needs to build about three more for first grade. Not sure that will happen but then I didn’t think they would find a solution to the desk problem at all, so wonders never cease.

My trip to Lomngeletjane and especially my time in the first grade classroom was three fold. One: to move the desks in because I knew it would never happen if I didn’t move them. The teacher wanted the kids to move the desks, but they were too heavy for the children and they were struggling. So I helped them. At first the teacher objected, but I ignored her and she did follow my lead. The second reason was to bring her some poster board and very directly tell her that I want all three teachers to write classroom rules and post them on the wall. Her first comment was “we don’t have any Bostick (a sticky substance) to put them on the wall.” I knew she was going to say that and told her that. But then I moved on and told her that she can’t be saying kids need to not be in the classroom because they don’t know how to behave when there are no rules. I told her three rules I want to see on the paper, because there have been problems with the issues are: no hitting, no eating candy in class, and do not bring money to school. Some of the gogo’s will give the kids a little bit of their very precious money to bring to school to buy candy from aunties who are selling it by the piece for 20 cents (.20 rand a piece). It’s one of those issues I struggle with….wasting the little bit of cash on candy, but then my mother’s heart understands the desire to give their grandchildren something special. But the point is, in this case it is causing behavior problems between a couple of kids in the first grade so the teacher wants to kick one of the kids out of school. The child just happens to be HIV+ and is very hard of hearing. I told her she can’t kick the child out of school and hence my lecture and directive for classroom rules and teaching the children how to behave.

My third reason was to take a little closer look at 3 other special needs children in her classroom. It felt good to rely on the training I had in college (many moons and a life time ago) when I majored in education for the moderately and severely handicapped as I tried to talk, listen and interact with the kids. The sad part is that while in the US we would send them for special therapy. That’s not a possibility here, but the children all seem to be intelligent children capable of learning and their issues weren’t severe. So I told the teacher I didn’t see any reason why the children couldn’t be her class. I explained what I saw to the teacher and tried to alleviate her fears and also reminded her that these children are a big part of why they need classroom rules.

The grade one teacher told me there was a desk (table) in the pre-school that the teacher was using as her desk. I went up to speak to the pre-school teacher, and found that it was true that the children weren’t sitting at the desk, but with 28 children in preschool, no way could I take that desk away. We re-arranged the children so that all three tables were used. These children are all so precious. Two of the five year olds could read and say their numbers from one to ten! The pre-school teacher, and I use the term very loosely, has no training. Indeed I’ve been told she didn’t even complete primary school. She also gets paid 200 rand (about $20) a month, but they actually only give her the money every 6 to 9 months. So basically, she is volunteering her time. It was one thing when there were only 8 or 10 kids, but now there are 28. There are complaints that the kids don’t learn what they should with her as a teacher but in my opinion she wins the teacher/angel of the year award.

I just spoke to Rev. Nyameka a few minutes ago. He said he just talked to the REO (Regional Education Officer) regarding when the school will be registered. The REO said their concern and what is keeping them from registering the school is that there isn’t a place for even one teacher to stay. And if there isn’t a place for a teacher to stay, no teachers will come teach. We both know that is just an excuse because I’ve been to another school that has been registered for 3 years. It is much more remote than Lomngeletjane and it doesn’t have near the facilities that Lomngeletjane has. But Nyameka was informing me that he told the REO that we have a small place for a teacher to stay until a formal house can be built later on this year. Yep, you guessed it – the office/storage/kitchen building. I’ve actually had the same thought but it doesn’t have any electricity or water facilities. However, there is the outhouse and there is a water spicket near the building so Nyameka thinks it will do for now. It’s a ray of hope. The REO is going to have a second meeting with the powers to be. Please pray they will register this school very, very soon.

1 comment:

Gary and Jeri Carson-Hull said...

Chris, I just finished your last three blogs. I loved them and the pictures. It is so exciting to see where Gary and I will be in a couple of months. You have been so busy. Hopefully, we can alleviate some of that while we are there, Blessing to you and our work, Jeri