October 16, 2006
Up at 6 am. Had breakfast with the guys and gave them the keys to the car and the containers. I will not go out to the site. I can do little to help out in the fine details they are doing now so I will look at school here. The first class is not till 11 so I head out to the beach to kick back and read. On the way back I stop by the bank for cash to pay the hotel. I head to the school and bump into Stephanie on the way. She is dressed well and I only have my Disney t-shirt and shorts. It is another hot sweaty day. The kids are on break when we arrive. They are getting snacks at the front gate, popcorn balls. They must pay for it all. In fact public school is paid for. The most destitute are charged 1200Es a year. All the kids have uniforms. Everyone is happy. A head teacher rings a bell by hand. The teachers pick up keys and a class book. Here I find an amazing difference in educational thought. Kids are grouped in one physical classroom and all teachers must go to that room. Hence, one common roll book for each classroom that is guarded well. Attendance is mandatory. 12 absences and you cannot advance. Kids of all ages can be in a grade level. I visit level 10 first. Steph takes roll by speaking louder than the rest. The class is actually well behaved even if they talk. Most are eager to participate and just can't hold back their voice. Stef explains later that class time is only 20% of their overall grade, 80% is comp exams. The 10B class has kids up to 21 years old. Many can hardly fit in the desks. It has a tin roof, hot and sweaty. The blackboard is real slate only about six feet wide. The lesson is on dropping the "y" when using past tense. They write in their notebooks what Stef writes on the board. Then they volunteer to come to the front and read aloud. I go to the front and have them read to me. And I respond. To my surprise one kid has a digital camera and takes a picture of me! The bell is rung by hand and class hurries out to lunch. I go back to the restaurant and have steak. The class starts again at 4:30. This time it is the 7E class. They are typical of the age group, chatter boxes, gossiping, and plenty of notes. There are a few with glasses and others come to the front to see. One kid recognizes my Disney T-shirt. The lesson is on past/present "be". They are all happy. Cape Verde is no longer a poor country. The Peace Corps will phase out here. I head back and read. Nice call from home, good to know all is well.