My journey to Muhoroni...

Friday, January 22, 2010

School is school almost for free

Class, are you happy? Yes! Maria is going to teach you. Are you happy? Yes! She told me she wants to be your friend. Are you happy? Yes! She will take you to Slovakia. Are you happy? Yes!
Well, a happy class of happy children indeed...

The children at the elementary school in Muhoroni are not as rude as the Slovak ones but they can be. They imitate my voice, my accent, repeat sentences after me or shout at me. I can see there are some rascals too.
Almost as if in Slovak nationalist´s dream: on Friday morning at eight o´clock we start by hanging up the flag and singing the anthem. Kenyan anthem is beautiful. In the context of the country that is fragmentated into tribes it does not give the impression of nationalism as much as of unity.

Kenya has had free education for 7 years now. Recently Britain has stopped its support because 100 million shillings disappeared just like that.

„Your parents are untidy. Tell your parents that if you don´t come to school in your uniforms on Monday, you can turn around and walk back home.“
„Your parents just don´t care!“
„Where are your socks?“
„This is not the colour of our uniform!“
„If you come in these shoes again you will have to take them off at the gate and walk barefoot for the rest of the day.“

There are several elementary schools in Muhoroni. This one has 840 children. There are 30 to 60 children in each class. Three or four share one desk. The school has 18 teachers. 19 with me.

35-minute lesson. 40 children. 5 classbooks. That
is some challenge.

Some children walk to school for about an hour. Sometime after six o´clock in the evening you can see them walking back home to Koguta or Menara Village.

They don´t give lunch at school. The children have an hour and 20 minutes to get home. A neighbour´s girl is going to cook lunch together with her sister. Another one goes to the neighbour´s because Menara is too far away.
A 4-year-old girl is walking down the street. Her brother who is about 2 years older than her walks 10 meters ahead of her. I walked with her because we had the same way. Then I notified the boy that he had a sister there. A boy that is not even of school age needs to take responsibility. There is a nice road to school, right next to our hospital. It is a shortcut through the field. No one shouts at me and I can be alone for a while.
„Did you come through the shortcut to school? We try to teach the children that they should walk through the gate.“
I understand. An inner sigh. No more shortcuts.

They call me „sister“. They think I am a nun. I don´t mind. It works as a self-defence course.
In the afternoon the children were practising some dancing. They will dance and play drama about Mao Forest. It is a reservation where people started to live, they cut out the trees and now after years they started to move them out and they are planting trees. It is a big political case.
There is a poster on the wall saying „no sexual harrasment at school“. Unfortunately, it should hang in every classroom. A teacher went to a training about sexual abuse of children at schools. 15-year old girls get pregnant because they carry their teacher´s books home. I haven´t seen a student that would dare disobey the teacher. He has great authority. In every area, it seems.

I teach two lessons of religion a week. Eastern and western 6th grade. That is instead of 6A and 6B.
Apart from that I teach a 15-year-old girl to read. She is repeating the 3rd grade. And I also teach an 8-year-old boy to read from the very beginning. Those are simple yet miraculous things. To learn how to riddle the bugs we put in words and books.

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