Sunday 3 July 2016

Progress and Visitors

Origami Flowers, made by grade 3.

Two weeks ago we opened school knowing we had one week before three friends arrived to help at school for a few weeks. Between now and when I travel in August we have a constant flow of visitors.  

Just before the girls arrived I taught Grade 3 for a day. It was nice to get back into the classroom for a while. We had a fun day doing some 'off curriculum' lessons. A study done in Zambia a couple of years ago showed that of primary school leavers only 10% could write 100 words about themselves in English - I took this as a challenge.  Grade 7 is the end of primary so these children are 4 school years below the children that were tested. They amazed me with their work! Most of the children wrote between 200-300 words. There was varying levels of spelling but most of it was readable. 

It is always very exciting to get visitors (especially when they bring presents!) and to be able to share whats happening at school with them. Jo and Suzie have been before and it is even more special when they can see how much the school and the children have grown.  For Annabelle it is her first time away from the UK and watching her see things for the first time is fun! 

So far the girls have helped in all the classes and heard some reading. By the time my children reach Grade 2 I like to have them reading and taking books home every week. In a lot of schools here children cant read until Grade 5 or 6. Even then it is very patchy. Talking to some friends the other night they were saying in their school they had 1 copy of a book to share between 50+ pupils. The parents of most of my children can't speak English, let alone read, so reading to people in school is vital. For the class teachers it is very hard to find time to regularly listen to them read.

Recently we had a delivery of 4 boxes FULL of books and padded out with warm clothes. Sam organised for us to be able to share some of those books with another school who have no reading books at all. I try to teach the children that although we dont have lots we have much more than many other places and it is important we share what we cant use straight away with other people.  I don't think storing lots of things for the damp or termites to spoil is the right use of things we are given. 

This term I have only taken 1 new child. Christine is the first Albino child to join Taonga. The first week she was here she refused to talk to me saying she didn't know me. I think we have cracked the friendship barrier! In Zambia people with albinism can be treated very badly or with suspicion. I have been very proud of my children who, after having a little 'look' when she arrived, have treated her exactly as they would treat any other new, young child. They help her when she needs help, tell her what to do and let her get on with school life.

Finally... Marcus seems to be growing every time I look at him.  After supper he sidles up to Grandma or Grandad rubbing his hands together asking for 'chocolate'....

 ...normally he shares things nicely, but there is a limit to his kindness!

Natalia and I

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