Teaching in the First World/Third World Dichotomy

Story 1.

Story 1.

Being a PCV in SA means I am faced with a very unique situation-the First World Third World reality. Some PCVs describe it as putting a First World veneer on top of the Third World mess.

In the classroom, this dichotomy presents a challenge. Our textbooks are full of First World ideas, projects, or topics that my learners simply cannot understand. But I found 3 stories in the new CAPS textbooks that address this reality head on. Check out the three stories, look at the pictures, and trying to understand the challenges of teaching in a First World Third World reality.

Story 1
“My name is Nonthandazo Shilowa. I live in the Eastern Cape in a village. My family owns a small piece of land. I live with my parents and three brothers. We have two huts made from mud and straw. We use one for cooking and the other for sleeping. We grow our own maize, beans, tomatoes, spinach, and onions. We also have two cows, a few goats and chickens. We get eggs and milk and see what we don’t eat. We use the money for clothes, extra food, and school fees. We get water from the river-it has to be boiled to be safe to drink. Once my baby brother got very sick because there were germs in the water. My mother had to stay with him in the hospital which is far away from here. I wish we had electricity because we need to collect firewood every day to cook and to keep warm. That’s my job. I go to the school about 3 kilometres away-I walk with my brothers on the footpath. On days when it is too wet, we can’t cross the river and I have to miss school.”

Story 2
“I’m Mxolise Mhlongo and I live in Durban. I live with my mother and sister in a double-story house with a big garden. We have a swimming pool, and it’s my job to clean it. I also have to clean my own bedroom. Our house has electricity, running water, and underfloor heating. Our family has two television and my mom and sister have computers. On weekends I have friends to play-we usually watch videos and sometimes we go to the movies at the cinema. But in the week the house feels quite lonely because my mom and sister work until late. There’s a big shopping centre near us-that’s where my mom buys all the food we eat. My mom works at the hospital. She drives us to school every day although sometimes I catch the bus. The school is very big, with lots of fields. My father works in another city. I only see him on holidays when my sister and I fly over o stay with him.”

Story 3
“My name is Ryan Petersen. I live in a town called Prieska in the Northern Cape. We live in a house that my father made out of tin and wood. It has three small rooms. My uncle, my brothers and I all share one room. My father worked on the mine buy he got sick and needs to go to the clinic every second day. Now he’s unemployed. My mom is a domestic worker. There are a lot of people living near us and we have to share the tap and toilets. We have no electricity so we cook on paraffin stoves and use candles. It’s scary because sometimes there are fires in this area. I don’t like it here because there are no playgrounds or trees. At least at school there is a field. We get all our food from the spaza shop on the corner, and when there’s money my mom buys stuff like maize, oil and sugar at the supermarket.”

Story 2.

Story 2.

Story 3.

Story 3.


About Jen Lamos

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

One thought on “Teaching in the First World/Third World Dichotomy

  1. Pingback: Gratitude: Days 3, 4, and 5 | Jen's Peace Corps Experience in South Africa

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