School is back in session at Matandani, and a new term has brought fresh changes. One of the biggest improvements has been teacher’s commitment to keeping their students in the classroom during class, and transitioning breaks with other classes. Rather than 1000+ children thundering into the courtyard for a 15 minute break, classes have created a schedule so that only 100-300 students are on break at once. Between breaks, the courtyard is relatively empty (and quiet). Even the thud of the landscaper’s hoe can be heard as he uproots weeds on the netball pitch.
As you walk into a class, students are sitting side-by-side and front-to-back. Some classes maintain acceptable class sizes, but today the ‘Standard 1’ class-size was at 240 in one room. The solution can only be to increase the number of classrooms, which local builders are working hard to complete. In the meantime, the second Standard 1 classroom is being used for storage. As soon as the new classrooms are built, the Standard 1 class can be split again.
Other than the two new classrooms currently being built, we have recently received our order of 40 new desks for the Standard 8 class. Each desk will be able to fit 3 small students (2 larger ones?) and will prevent students from having to use their knee as a writing surface. The desks are made of a planed wood mounted onto a metal frame. When the wood eventually wears or breaks, a local carpenter can easily replace it.
The desks have come just in time for this announcement: Standard 8 students will now be expected to come to school at 6am-4pm (with a one-hour lunch break) to improve low test results. That’s 9 hours of school!
Luckily for the Standard 8 students, they will be rewarded with the addition of a brand-new football pitch. This week, official goal posts have been welded, delivered, and installed. We’re even in the process of planting grass, one small clump at a time, which is slowly taking root. [As I write this, Andy’s excitement can be heard out the window as he measures the field].
Changes are certainly happening here at Matandani, with more to come. It is sure to be a great school-year!