Rushville Republican

Features

February 15, 2008

Visiting a school in Uganda

(Editor’s note: Brian Dunn, formerly of Rushville, is serving with the Peace Corps in Uganda.)

“Who can calculate the area of this shape? Giftee?” As Gift goes to the board the teacher uses a piece off a foam mattress to erase another section of the blackboard. “In 1/2 h(a x b), what is h, class?” A few students blurt out the answer. “Ah, ah…” the teacher says then mumbles something in the local language to the extent of, “You should raise your hands instead of speaking out of turn.”

A while back I decided to visit one of the area primary schools here in Uganda. It’s approximately four miles from the Compassion center where I work. They have 746 students and 15 teachers (a 50:1 students/teacher ratio.) There are 12 classrooms for the eight grades. The school is free for the students, the government pays the teachers salaries, but parents are asked to pay 8,000 Ush per year ($4) for additional projects, such as the new construction.

I began my visit with the seventh graders (P7 students). These are the oldest students in the school. They can be anywhere from 11 to 19 years old. The students all stand upon my entering. They are all wearing their school uniforms: pink shirts with navy blue shorts or skirts. The head teacher is teaching and they are doing a section on graphing. No text books and the teacher is teaching in English. There are just under 60 students in a smaller than normal (by U.S. standards) sized classroom. The students sit three to a desk A blackboard is in the front of the class with a large piece of paper taped to the board with an x & y axis and grid. The students are learning coordinates (3, -2). Most of the kids have shoes on here, which is a general indication of both their age and poverty level.

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