Sunday, October 23, 2011

Weekly Update

Here all is plodding on – can’t believe that October is zooming by – it seems only 5 minutes since we started the school year !
     The good news is that the school numbers are slowly creeping upwards – we now have 195 – which is excellent ! However, this has meant that we are currently in a chair and table crisis since many of the old chairs have broken and although we got some donations to have some mended, this hasn’t been enough to get them all done ! As a result, we are squashing some children 4 to a small desk and others don’t have access to a table and have to balance their books on their laps ! the good news however, is that we are very hopeful for a classroom enhancement grant from the major airline which visited a couple of weeks ago ! – they said that we have a 99 % chance of success ( which is pretty good ! ) so we are awaiting their answer !  - they said a month a couple of weeks ago so hope that we only have 2 weeks left to wait !
       Within the classroom enhancement project we have also asked for a photocopier !  this will revolutionise the school ! – since then we will be able to have more extensive workbooks for children ( we haven’t photocopied the books for this year yet in the hope that the grant will come through !  - when it comes it will be a mad panic to photocopy all the work / textbooks for the year for everyone ! ) have a system of laminated worksheets for use in class, as well as be able to give the teachers handouts for their training !
         We have now found land for the KG school – wonderfully located – right in the centre of the town ! Amazingly it is within the budget outlined by the Belgium organisation which are looking to donate – so currently in the waiting phase  for confirmation of the amount and the process  ! It is too exciting to even think about sometimes – don’t want to get too excited and then find that it all falls through ! – but it could be so amazing to actually get land at long last !
        Once we get the land then we need to start fundraising for building costs – getting quite good at writing grant applications these days – so we are hopeful that with a combination of grants and donations we will be able to get a decent school building up and running in next to no time !
       On the educational front  things are slowly plodding on ! The KG school teachers have received so much more training and organisation and really are all ready and set to go . As a result, we are concentrating on enhancing the KG curriculum with things like self registration for children and the introduction of a writing corner in each room. In the grade school however, it is another world. All but one of the teachers has received minimal training ( from us ) and this really shows in the difficulty that they have in truly understanding what we want from a classroom – ( i.e. not rote learning or copying – instead differentiation , a sense of enthusiasm and enjoyment , a love of learning ) and how to apply it !
      As a result, it has turned out that I am writing all of the lesson plans for all of the grade classes for all subjects ! ( well – expect for Amharic ! )  Obviously, this is not easy and it is a real struggle to keep up since I am in the classrooms team teaching with the teachers in the morning and  home schooling our two in the afternoons !
     This has meant that less prominent subjects like art , pe and music have been completely ignored ! Instead, we are relying on Cathy who will shortly be coming to volunteer – to focus upon these areas and try to build them up to a basic acceptable level ! We are very lucky in that she is a dance and music specialist, so really hope that she will be able to make a real difference !
   Progress hasn’t been helped this week since I am been off school sick with cellulitis ( note that this is different to cellulite – although I have that too ! ) – which is a bacterial infection ! It started as a tiny insect bite at the back of my leg and then within 24 hours it was a huge red mass ! This required an injection of antibiotics to get me started and then strong antibiotics three times a day for 10 days.  
       It has been frustrating staying at home hobbling about when you know that there is so much to do at school but it has given me an opportunity to at least keep up to date with the planning and to get out a few more grant applications.
      The rogue camel has not been spotted this week although on Monday when I was coming out of the school gate there was a huge stone  right in front of me that hadn’t been there when I had gone in. When the stone moved I realised that in fact it was a tortoise ! – about 3 feet long and 3 foot wide it must be ancient ! Apparently, it is just a wild tortoise that likes living in the centre of the town , so simply wanders around – oblivious to the horse and carts plodding by and the steady stream of people  !
          Nazret really is a place of surprises – you think that it is quite modern ( well – relatively ! ) and then you realise that if there are wild camels and tortoises wandering around and that when you stand at the school gate to welcome pupils there are numerous horse and carts and herds of ox being led past then it really isn’t quite that advanced – simply, everyday life in the Horn of Africa.  

Ethiopian Schools for the Poor - English Alive Academy
Registered Charity Number 1140681

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