Saturday, March 5, 2011

Teaching in Lesotho

Also back in August, I got to visit another volunteer. This one was a classroom teacher, rather than a resource teacher.

We began on a hill top, where this particular PCV was able to show us the layout of her village, and describe a bit about the school system to us. The school system in Lesotho is fairly extensive, and primary education is universal (about through 7th grade).

We then went down to her school, which was easily identified by this sign:

Thankfully, the other side was in English:

I found it interesting that the same emphasis on a drug free environment I have seen at many U.S. schools is present here, as well, albeit with a specific focus on smoking.

The PCV took us into her classroom, where I was again able to experience a Lesotho classroom first hand - including the lack of temperature controls. As you can see, the teachers all wear coats. (It is my understanding that the children are not allowed to wear coats.)

This time, the classes seemed a bit more crowded than what I had seen at the last school I visited. Nonetheless, teacher and students alike seemed really engaged with the subject matter - and far more animated than I remember classrooms being when I was that age.

PCVs all work with counter-parts in their employing organizations, who serve, at least initially, as their primary connection with the organization. From what I gather, they learn a great deal from one another: not only about their primary activity (such as teaching), but also about cultures and perspectives and life in general. On this particular site visit, I was fortunate to be able to watch the PCV's counter-part in action:

Seems like his students were having a little too much fun...

The school grounds were a bit bare, given that it was still winter, but quite nice (I thought) just the same.

During our tour of the school, we got to see the library. While in the States we may tend to take the presence of school libraries for granted (which we should not), here in Lesotho they are not so ubiquitous. I gather that those that do exist are there because of the special and dedicated efforts of individuals at the school - be they volunteers or teachers or community members or some combination thereof. Books, after all, cost money.

Because there are no indoor temperature controls, i.e., there is no heat, when not in class the students tend to try to find sunny spots on the school grounds to gather and socialize.

And the teachers tend to do their non-classroom work, such as grading, outdoors in the sun as well.

As with the last volunteer, I also got to see where this one lived. Her house was much larger than most PCVs here in Lesotho (more than two rooms), and I was particularly taken with how she had used her extra space: for the students. She had created a space for them to express themselves creatively. As a poet myself, I must say I was really pleased.

I was given permission to share some of the poetry the students presented during one of this volunteer's hosted poetry nights, and I will do so in an upcoming post. I just wish I could have been there when they read their work...

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