Wednesday, August 24, 2011

August 24, 2011 9:00 PM

All day yesterday I was thinking that no one from my school was coming as my counterpart for the training, but then at evening tea I saw my headteacher.  He said that the deputy headmistress was supposed to come but couldn’t at the last minute, so he came instead and that was why he was late.  I was really happy to see him there and I thought it was really nice that he felt that if no one else can come, he will.  It was supposed to be my counterpart and not my supervisor, but I didn’t really have a definitive counterpart anyway.  My counterpart was originally Marion, the other computer teacher, but she is not around all the time and she is very quiet and I don’t really work with her.  My headteacher told me today that my counterpart was leaving the school.  Although he was saying my counterpart was a different teacher, Allen.  I know her and I think she teaches physics, but she is still not someone I really work with.  And apparently she is transferring schools, so she will not be back this term.  So the headteacher has identified a new counterpart for me, teacher Rovian.  She teaches physics and math.  He really wants me to work with her to try to integrate into the community better.  So hopefully this will work out better than my previous two counterparts.

This training is based on us, as PCVs, working on secondary projects.  So it sometimes feels like we are constantly being given ideas for secondary projects and coming up with our own ideas.  We can even apply for grants if we want to work on a project that needs money.  This idea bothers me a little, because giving money is not sustainable.  It also gives people the idea that white people just come in and give money, so when they see us they expect and often demand money.  However, I feel like I have a good project idea and for this giving money might not turn out bad.  My school is pretty self-sustainable and operates almost solely off of school fees.  They also request more school fees if they have a specific project.  They have never asked me for money and therefore, I feel pretty comfortable trying to get a grant for this project.  The project is to build up the computer lab.  Right now we have only two working computer and a fairly large lab that is being used also as a multi-purpose room.  The biggest thing they do in there is let the non-teaching staff take tea and lunch in there.  So I guess my first goal is to get the room totally dedicated to being just a computer lab.  After that is where the grant comes in.  I want to get more computers.  I want enough to be able to teach classes in there.  So I’m thinking maybe ten in total (this is including the two they already have).  Because at that rate, even if there is a class of 50, you can break it in half and take half to the lab at one time.  The way the grants work is that the community (in this case the school) needs to be able to provide 25% of the funding, so that they have some ownership in the project and it is not just us giving them money.  I don’t think this is a problem, because they can get more school fees for this purpose.  And 25% of ten computers among 600 girls is not that much money even here.

So I proposed this idea to the headteacher and he really likes the idea and seems really willing to work with me on it.  He said he wants to have me meet with the Old Girls (school alumni) when I get back and have us come up with a proposal.  However, I feel like he can be a little idealistic sometimes.  But I think if I keep pushing for this, that it will happen before I leave.  It is the kind of project that I might be working on the entire time I’m here and I may never get the benefits from it.  But that’s okay, as long as I can get them to love the project as much as I do, so that it will not just waste away when I leave.  I guess I will need to work on making it a sustainable asset, but that is way down the road.

We had a session today on gender roles.  We had these in our pre-service training as well, but it wasn’t until now that I realized how nice it is to be at an all girls school.  This issue of gender roles is almost a non-issue for me.  My school is so focused on educating girls and they have a good respect for women, which is not always seen as important in this culture.  I also found out recently that it is almost unheard of to have a male headteacher at an all girls school, but I finally found out why my headteacher is where he is.  He apparently didn’t start school until he was 12 and it was only because of the help he got from his aunt and his sister that he made it all the way through Senior 6.  So this plays into why he is so intense about educating “the girls child”.  He was also telling me that he has only been at Kinoni Girls for three years.  When he got there, there were 180 students and now three years later there are 600.  I feel like he genuinely cares about the school and the girls in it.  Many volunteers don’t have this kind of support and I think that is all the more reason for me to try and do something that can really help the school, because when I leave I have faith that he will continue to make the school better and better.

So maybe my ideas are really idealistic and challenging, but I think they are also realistic and doable.  I guess only time will tell…

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