The school Term II is almost over. The pupils had exams this week and will finish up exams next week. I spent the whole week testing and marking exam papers for the Grade 5 Class (Teachers are moved around so that they don’t test their own classes). It was fun to be with the Grade 5’s and definitely interesting as some of them only understand basic commands in English (i.e. sit down, be quiet, etc.). Anything else I wanted to try to say or tell them got mixed results of understanding and total confusion… but a lot can be said with facial expressions and body movements (it helps with my background of Special Education as I am used to having communication issues with students :-). By Friday, they were even comfortable enough with me that I attempted to teach them some American School culture and was having them “catch a bubble in their mouth” (they fill their mouth and cheeks with air and hold it- thus keeping them quiet and from talking). Then we randomly ended up playing a game where I was naming animals and having them make the sounds, finally ending on “Fish”, where I explained that fish don’t make sounds, and we circled back to having a bubble in our mouths. They were very amused and happy to have a Mukuwa teaching and playing with them all week. Unfortunately, marking the test papers is a little more depressing. Depending on the subject, the average grades were between 20-50%, with only a very small number getting anywhere above 50%, and maybe only one or two making it above 80%. And it was not shocking to find some getting 7%, 10%, 13%, etc. But, when you consider that these are the same children who understand only very basic English commands, that are then expected to read and answer test questions written entirely in English, it’s not too surprising. They are basically just “Christmas Treeing” their way through their entire Education.
Next week, when school ends, I will be going on “Holiday”. First I am planning to go to Choma for the weekend to hang out at the PC House and with Meredith. Then, we will travel together to Lusaka, where we will meet up with all the others in our RED training group for 2 weeks of workshops. When that is finished, some of us will go to Livingstone for a few days of vacation. Finally, towards the end of August I will return back to the village and get ready for school to open back up.