Sunday, 18 May 2008

Counting beans

May 13-14th

Not much to report for these two days. Working solidly both days in the office with Védaste, my new statistician colleague. Every time either of us tries to add up the figures we get a different total. So I spend Wednesday going through all the schools one by one just to try to get a definitive number for teachers, pupils and classrooms. Even the total number of schools keeps eluding us. Just goes to show that when you get this big an amount of data, from hundreds of partly educated people, the final result is always a work of fiction rather than anything scientific!

Just for the record, this is our final count and we’re sticking with it even if some of you know better:
We have 109 primary schools
They contain 73,230 pupils
Just under 13,000 children – 1 in 6 - are listed as orphans, (though we strongly suspect many of these are one-parent families rather than true orphans. In Rwanda the definition is vague)
They are taught by 1236 teachers
The school population is growing at 3% a year, which is enormously fast. At this rate it will double in just over 20 years.
When you add the secondary school statistics there are over 80,000 pupils. That’s an increase of 10,000 in one year over the figure Claude gave me when I first arrived!

On Tuesday I not only have a parcel arrive from England in as little as ten days, but the first of my “Guardian Weeklies” arrives. At Last! You don’t know how nice it is to read news from home as an alternative to the BBC African service. I’m sick to death of hearing nothing else but the machinations of devious politicians in Kenya, Zimbabwe and the like. Now I can read all about the devious machinations of politicians in England and the rest of the world as well.

On Wednesday the water goes off. We don’t know why. It’s ironic because just as the water goes off we have the first heavy rain for weeks. Fortunately we have 40 gallons in jerry cans on the balcony for just such a situation. If you don’t mind the tang of plastic in your tea, and you’re willing to wash in a bucket rather than shower, you’re fine for at least four days!

Good things about these days – Guardian Weekly, parcel from home, I’m at last being taken very seriously in the statistical work I’m doing for the District.

Downsides – no water; not able to go to Kigali. Sorry, folks – you won’t be able to get any more pictures from me for another week at least!

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