I have another post about Dedza in the works but I just wanted to share this with everyone, particularly all the teachers we know.
Today we headed to a village about 30 kilometers outside Kasungu to collect the data from the team there and check on their progress. When we got to the village, the team was finishing up their last interview so we decided to park and wait for them instead of slow them down by tagging along. We ended up parking in a field opposite Mankhaka Primary School.
As soon as we pulled up, we were greeted by these curious kids. Some had just finished class and others were waiting to go in.
I started talking to the one of the teachers and he offered to take me around while I was waiting. This is where they sometimes have class when it’s too hot.
This is the outside of the school houses. There are 4 buildings with a total of 8 classrooms.
William, a teacher, showed me the inside of one of the classrooms not in use.
And then he showed me the inside of a classroom that was in use. This is a 4th grade English class.
Seems like a lot of kids in the classroom right? Well there are, there are 80 kids in this class. A little nuts right? Well how about this, there are 860 kids at this school and only 6 teachers. SIX! There aren’t enough teachers so kids only go for about 3 hours a day. Teachers teach multiple grades and classes and a total of 9 classes a day. The teachers a provided a really run down house and paid a little over $100 a month. Yes, just $100. But you know what? They come to work everyday and the kids come early and sit outside the classrooms eagerly waiting for their turn. They seem really excited about school and it’s heartbreaking that only about 10% of these kids will actually go on to high school.
I was telling Bertha (my colleague) about this and she decided to conduct a quick history class while we were waiting for the team to return.
The kids seem genuinely interested. But then they caught sight of their reflections on the car and that was the end of the lesson. This was the first time most of the kids had actually seen their entire reflection.
I think of all the kids back home who skip school or complain when they have to do actual homework and feel sad. The kids at Mankhaka Primary School are beating down the door to get into class only to find there isn’t a teacher, desks or books in there.