School Visits Day Two
(internet has been out so I’m send this out a couple days after the fact)
School Visits Day 2: School in the Bush
Our day began with a 2-3 hour drive to Champhanji, a school definitely in the bush. We rode with Nancy, Dr Chilenji, and Rev. Peter Chipeta, the Education Director for CCAP. Gerald Phiri was invited but he declined when he knew where we were going because the road is very bumpy and bad, I must agree – some of the worst. Bob and I had visited that village two years ago where we found the people cohesive and hard working. At the end of our visit we were each presented with a chicken. Today we were there to look at the new school building built by “World Servants,” a dutch group that has sent teams of primarily young people to build schools and teacher houses in Zambia and Malawi. Rebecca and I also wanted to see some teaching since I rarely get to observe teachers out here because school is either canceled for the day so children can do “piece work” to earn some money, the teacher is sick, or school has dismissed by the time we get to the school. Today when we arrived the children were doing “piece work.” to earn money for a soccer ball. Word got out that we wanted to see the teacher teaching the children so eventually the children and teacher arrived at the school.
Children pose in front of the school building.
In the meantime we saw where the teacher house was being built. When villages or communities want a government teacher to work in their school they have to build a house and meet some other regulation before that can happen. The children began filing into the school. Soon the classroom was filled with parents, school children and their younger brothers and sisters. Most of the children looked at us with great curiosity. The teacher taught a short lesson in front of parents, siblings, and visitors – what pressure. He seemed confident and enthusiastic while presenting his lesson and the students hung on his every word. Nancy had brought some dresses and blankets from a church in Texas to give to the children and families. These were presented after the lesson and then the village gave our group a chicken, which rode back with us to Lundazi.
The chicken who became our traveling companion posing here with Peter Chipeta, PTA president, and myself.
The teacher from this village needed a ride to the conference so he also accompanied us back to Lundazi. Unfortunately he had to sit in the back with the chicken – he didn’t seem to mind.
On our way back we stopped at two mission schools that the CCAP is supporting and overseeing. Mission schools traditionally were started by missionaries but later taken over by the government during the 60s. Now the government is allowing them to be taken back by the churches.The first school was started in 1955 and has over 800 students in grades 1-9. The impressive thing is they have a an equal number of boys and girls, in fact more girls than boys. We toured the sleeping hostel being built for girls in grades 8 and 9 who need boarding. The second school has 430 students seems to be doing well. Both schools commented that a major concern regarding girls not finishing school (9th grade) is early marriage. Girls are often married off for a “bride price” (cows or payment) at age 14 or 15. The schools try to talk to parents and convince them to keep their daughters in school but unsuccessfully.
The Head (principal), Deputy Head (who is also a chief’s daughter making her a princess) and Rev Chipeta.
Returning back to the guest house Rebecca and I were met with quite a suprise. Since we arrived, we have asked for hangers and a towel (we only had one between us – fortunately I have my travel towel from REI). We also had other concerns about the room. It seems that whenever I asked they would say “Yes, no problem, they are coming,” but never arrive. This morning I left a list of requests and we were pleased to return to find our phone works, our refrigerator works, we had hangers and a towel, a trash bin, a power strip that actually has enough power to charge our phones and computer, and the hot water was working. WOW! The toilet still leaks but you can’t have everything.
I have been trying to connect with Rachel, a young woman we met last year from the Netherlands, who is working here again. Some how we keep missing each other but hope to connect soon.