Tuesday saw us open school. It was good to see some of the children again after almost a month. Not all of the children have reported to school yet but I am sure by next week most will be here. So far I have had 15 new children register and again I am in the position of only being able to offer spaces on the long waiting list. It is frustrating that the children didn't come in January as they have missed a term of work already. I have also had a few ‘car registers’. This is how we refer to people who can afford to send their children to a more expensive school, they just don't want to. It is hard to know what to do with these children. The school is not here for children like that however some of the parents come purely because they have heard its a good school where they actually learn to read and they genuinely want a good education for their children. Recently I did some work looking into some educational statistics for Zambia. Only 10% of children that pass grade 7 (end of primary) do so with an appropriate reading age. Even less can write 100 words in English about themselves. They pass their exams because it is multiple choice. I know, if I was asked to write 100 words in any foreign language I would fail, but these are children who should have been taught primarily in English for 7 years and English is the official language of the country. It is shocking but not unbelievable when you see the standard of some of the teaching and see class sizes of 70+. Let us hope Taonga school doesn't slip into those statistics and does its bit to improve them.
At Taonga school we are so happy to be recipients of many generous donations. On Wednesday we received new book bags for all the children. These have come from a company in the UK that had spare bags they wanted to donate somewhere… as I said, happy recipients!
Just look at them. They have our school name, match the uniforms and are fairly sturdy (my children will test them to the limit!) School bags are not an essential item, plastic bags or old sacks can make do but having something strong and purpose made makes such a different to protecting reading, library and homework books. We are really very thankful to all involved from giving the bags, the time to print the school name (all individually screen printed) and giving up suitcase space.