Fight For Your Mind

“True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.”

This is incredibly frustrating: The other teachers at the school apparently didn’t feel like working today. I was the only teacher there. Again. The school has around 300 students. The grade four classes (around age 12) present even more of a challenge than my previous groups. The majority are almost illiterate so we did some basic work on reading, writing and spelling! With all of my classes I’ve been prioritising work on hygiene, sanitation and various diseases such as Typhoid and Malaria. I’ve also been sneaking in a bit of emphasis on responsibilities concerning pets; Most of the cats and dogs here are walking, breathing skeletons. My efforts seem completely futile as I know there is ultimately very little I can do; this is their culture. If the country was thoroughly well educated it would be a completely different place. My experiences have demonstrated how charities that simply throw money at a problem do not actually improve the living standards of the people. Teachers should be paid according to the number of days they are actually present; Very few make the effort to come into school. The teachers are now spending the majority most of the school’s yearly budget on ‘prizes’, decorations and food for their speech day. There is absolutely no concept of saving money (or anything for that matter) here.

Observation of the day: During break I’ve noticed that lots of the little children go around catching cicadas with cups on long sticks. The local children from the area tend to hang about in the school during the day – mostly peering in the windows of my classes as if they were at a zoo; I tend to have a fairly large audience . They then grab the cicada, rip off it’s wings and legs and carry them round as a ‘rattle’ for a while before eventually eating them. Charming.



I’m now teaching the grade fours: ages ranging from 11 to 13. Although interestingly quite a few of the children don’t actually know how old they are; their parents didn’t keep track! With my three classes today I set them assignments in their English lesson to write poems about their favourite animals or their responsibilities at home (depending on which class they were in). Quite a few made little, if any, sense but overall I was pleasantly surprised with what they managed to come up with. Here’s my favourite:

Only A Dog

Oh Mum and Dad…

Every night I guard

you while you are

fast asleep.

Every day we go hunting

for wild meat.

Yet you forget me.

Yesterday Verena introduced me to a German volunteer a year older than me called Phillip who’s working in publishing here for a year. We’re planning a bush hike for the weekend – not sure whether leaving tonight or tomorrow morning – but I will not be able to post until we’re back. That is if we make it back: The more I learn about this country the more I see how completely sated with crime it is! (I’ve been learning some fascinating details about the sorcery and witchcraft beliefs here – will write a post on that subject soon.) Phillip’s a black belt in karate though so that could come in handy in a sticky situation!