Loving every second of South Africa. I sorted out my schedule so that I coach soccer on Mondays and Fridays and teach on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in a local township school. On the days that I teach, I also run an after-school program for younger children at Zarma (a daycare during the day for working mothers and hosts programs after-school for the school age children).
I was eager to get into a classroom to compare/contrast our system of education in the United States with South Africa. In order for children to attend school here it costs 100 rounds (~$15) for the school year and 600 rounds (~$95) for a mandatory school uniform. If a family cannot pay these fees then the child is unable to attend school. I would say roughly 75% of the township children attend school regularly. The graduation rate is roughly 30% according to National Test Scores, so it is not uncommon to see an 16 year old in a class with much younger students. Children also begin school a year later than in the United States. The school I work in houses grades 1-7 and is located in a very impoverished township. It begins at 8am. and is over around 2pm-younger grades are dismissed around 12. Lessons are taught in English so the children understand what is being said but struggle with the written language. Supplies are minimal. For example, there is 1 workbook for 5 children so each child must copy directions and problems directly from the book. Pencils are also shared amongst a group of students which causes lessons to take double as long. Of course there are no materials for “extras”–projects, activities and experiments that make lessons meaningful. The classroom teacher usually dictates the daily lessons and the children echo what has been said.
I have been flexible-switching subjects in grades 4, 5 and 6. As soon as I offer to help out the teacher usually turns the lesson over to me and leaves the classroom for an hour. To be honest, I prefer this! I have taught numerous lessons on fractions-bringing in a deck of cards and collecting empty pizza boxes from the volunteers to make the lesson a little more hands on. In technology, I taught a lesson on structures which was challenging because at home we would literally build something, where as here we were only able to draw illustrations of examples on the chalkboard (keep in mind I’m not the best artist!) A friend and I also taught a lesson on acrostic poetry where we did a class example for South Africa which is below. The head of Umzingisi came to observe this lesson so we are lucky it was success!
Animals like zebras, elephants, giraffes, rhinos and hippos
Athletes like Tshabalala, Castor, Ntini
Last weekend we went on an AMAZING trip through Aldo Elephant Park and then onto Schotia Safari, on the Eastern Cape-densely stocked with over 40 mammal species and approximately 2,000 animals. We took 4 drives through the reserve at various times during the day seeing all that we could see—zebras, hippos, rhinos, giraffes, lions, wildebeest, warthogs (Pumbaa from Lion King), springbucks, mongoose, jackals, and monkeys. On the evening drive our guide George drove the range rover up right next to a sleeping lion relaxing after feasting on his morning kill, a wildebeest. Not far away was a lioness with her 5 cubs. Then we had a “game dinner” at a restaurant in the middle of the reserve. To most people this sounds amazing but not to a vegetarian! We returned to this restaurant for breakfast where we watched a stampede of animals pass by our breakfast window, followed by a lioness hunting a giraffe. She got a hold of his leg but was unable to take it down itself. Gross-but still super cool to see!
Yesterday I went bungee jumping at the highest spot in the world-216m off of Bloukrans Bridge (google it!). I bought the DVD as proof—pure adrenaline rush! Today we are off to a local beach and craft market.