Monday, November 10, 2014

School Started Today; No tomorrow; No…Well Maybe Next Week

            I was told that Monday, 10/6/14, we were going to have an assembly at the school and that classes would also start.  So having lessons prepared for the week and ready to start teaching, I woke up at an early 6 am to get ready for the 7 o’clock assembly.  At 6:45 I stood outside on my porch overlooking the Lycee, with my friend Pascel and sitemate Greg, and awaited people to show up; really anyone to show up since we were the only ones there.  By 8 o’clock only about 30 of the roughly 500 students had arrived, as well as only half of the teachers.  So at 8:30, things having not improved, the Proviseur informed me that we would try again tomorrow. 
            The following day did not fare much better.  Although the students had doubled to about 60,
there were still only half the teachers.  This though did not stop school affairs and the Proviseur went on with the assembly.  To the whistle of the Surveillant the students lined up on the yard of the Lycee and spaced themselves somewhat haphazardly.  This was followed by a speech by the Proviseur, most of which went over my head, and then an introduction, by the Proviseur, of the teachers.  This whole affair went on to long it seemed for some of the students, as some of them began to sit on the ground and a few of these to start drawing in the dirt.  When the assembly had finished, the Proviseur dismissed the students with instructions to return back to the school that afternoon to clean.  That evening, as well as the next day, the students would spend their time cleaning the school and its grounds.  The tasks were split mostly by gender; with the girls sweeping and cleaning the desk and chairs, while the guys carried desks from one room to another and scraped the grass from the yard and flower beds. 
            On Thursday morning I was informed that classes really would start that day.  Most of the teachers had arrived, as well as many more but no where close to all of the students.  At 7:30, the time my first class would have started, the Surveillant called all the students up to the yard just outside her office and gave a short speech.  She followed this by telling the students which section they would be in for that Trimester.  This was done by her calling out the role for each section for all of the roughly 500 students.  The students hearing their names called would then go to the room for their section.  At my Lycee each section has their own classroom and it is the teachers that switch classes and not the students.  Once the role was called and I found out where my class was, having just learned about the classroom situation during role call, I went to my first class with only 20 minutes left to teach.  There being only six students and so little time left, I simply did an introduction of myself and then let them go.  I then floundered around for a bit trying to figure out what room my next class was supposed to be and then where my students were.  Finally finding the right room and the seven students that had showed up, I started class 15 minutes late.  This was fine though, as I had no intention of starting a lesson with less than a ninth of my class and putting them a day ahead of everyone else.  So I did my introduction, we talked for a very short while, and then I let them go. 
            This first week schedule, although singularly my own, is indicative of the first week/s at most schools in Madagascar, as well as in most other developing countries.  Outside of the administration and teachers there is no other support staff at most schools here in Madagascar.  This being the case, the cleaning and yard work get outsourced to the students to save what little money the schools have.  My town is in the countryside and most of its students live out in country during their time out of school.  They then return to live in town with family or friends during school.  This being the case and all of them knowing that the first few days will be spent cleaning anyways, most choose to stay at home and return to town a week late.  
School Library


Side of my house

My school rooms




Front of my house

School garden



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