No More Miss Nice PCV

The past week…well, things they have been a-changin’. I’ve started stirring people up and making some enemies, probably. But all for VERY good reasons!

During lockdown, when I was in the schools to mainly observe and figure this crazy school system out, I intentionally did not try to start teaching, working on projects, or changing behaviors. How could I do that when I hadn’t figured things out at my schools? I thought it would set me up for failure. Ultimately, I am glad I did not harass people too much about corporal punishment, African time, and other such things because it made them comfortable around me. They began to not-hide their problems from me, and now I more or less know what my schools are really like.

Now, everything’s different, and my schools will realize this very soon, if they haven’t already. I am no longer willing to let illegal actions (beating the kids), laziness (making me type everything), or African Time go on unabated. I’m only here for another year and nine months, and I truly want my schools to be in a better condition in Sept 2013 than it is now.

On Wednesday, at KPS, I started off the day with confronting all the teachers in Intermediate Phase about their lack of English in the class. I only meant to confront one, but soon all of us were in the staffroom yelling. SA’s policy is that children learn in Home Language (Setswana in my case) from Grade R-3, then in Grade 4 onward they learn completely in English, besides their Home Language class. All their tests are in English (besides HL) so the kids really need to be taught in English so they can pass.

The problem is that Grade 4 learners have not learned enough English to “hear” their teachers, and so in my schools, nearly all of Grades 4, 5, and 6 are taught in Setswana, against policy. Teacher say they explain in English first, then in Setswana when the learners do not understand. But when there is 30 seconds of English and 45 minutes of Setswana following, I don’t really believe this.

This means learners do not hear English at school or at home, and thus they fail the tests because they can’t string more than “My name is Onkgopotse. My surname is Modisapodi. I am 15 years old. I am a boy.” And they have no hope of passing.

Now, I do not particularly agree with the DOE policy, but it is the reality, and teachers NEED to teach in English if the learners are to be successful. So I got 5 teachers stirred up and yelling, offering one ridiculous excuse after another, and ultimately probably not nothing through their heads. But it is not the last of it they will hear from me.

The next day, I was in Grade 6 teaching (all in English, and the learners were getting the main parts, if not every words, btw), when a younger learner ran in, hollered something in Setswana, grabbed the stick on the floor, and ran out. Now, I knew this meant a teacher wanted to beat the kids, so followed and found one of my favorite teachers waiting for this kid and another to return with the sticks. I asked her what she was doing, and she started yelling at the kids for going into my classroom to fetch a stick. She then told me she wanted to beat the kids because they did not know the cardinal directions, even though she had been teaching it every day. I grabbed the stick, walked out of the classroom, then broke them in front of her as I headed back to my room. This is my plan.

I know I will tick teachers off, and I hope they bring it up with the principal. I have the law and PC on my side, and will NOT stop just because I make a few teachers mad. No more Miss Nice PCV.

-Jen

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About Jen Lamos

Christ follower. Writer. Permaculturist. RPCV. Photographer. Gardener. Keeper of Chickens. Daughter of God.

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