Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Working overtime

May 26th

Can’t summon up much enthusiasm for going into work today. I’m still avoiding making the harder decisions and awkward phone calls that I need to do.

Fiddle around for an hour trying to make a presentation for Claude about the redoublement problem. I know what the answers are – standardise the end of year tests across the secteurs, ban children having to repeat the same year more than once, and give them some support in classes or breakfast or twilight extra lessons. None of which are going to be palatable to my colleagues.

Some of the repetition rates are so high I have to go back to the census forms because I’m worried I’ve made a mistake in transcription. Find one mistake, but only one. So Kadehero primary really does have 73% of all its first year students repeating the year, and Mata primary, where we did a training the other day, has 41% of the entire school repeating years. Its crazy – if they tried to do this in England there’d be a national scandal!

I also get the translation of my presentation into French almost done. I know I’m producing some clumsy turns of phrase, and things which I could wing if I was speaking are so much harder when I’m writing them. Why did I sleep through all my “A” level lessons on agreements…..? But it’s hard vocabulary. (You just try writing phrases like “How are decisions made on which schools have new buildings, and how equitable and transparent is the system for deciding building programmes?” into fluent and colloquial French)!

I ring Stéphanie out at Shyogwe; I need to go there and see her about getting more detailed proposals for the Randstad rebuilding project, and the end of the afternoon seems a good time to go.

It’s a cold and windy morning; there’s a howling draught blowing through the office and everyone getting sneezes and sniffles. Just like home! Venantie’s back from her leave; she’s had her hair braided and looks quite different. I had to do a double take before I recognised her!

Have lunch with Cathie, who’s very excited and wants to talk. It’s the first day that teaching jobs in her part of Canada can be offered to external applicants, and she’s already applied for five of them on line during the morning. None of them are ideal – all the plum jobs have already gone to internal applicants – but they’ll be a foothold for her when she returns and she can move on as soon as she finds something better. The system is very regimented. The Canadian schools have to respond to her applications by Thursday. I just hope they won’t suddenly decide to do a telephone interview right when we’re supposed to be doing training at Rugendabari on Thursday morning!

Then in the afternoon who should appear in the office but Védaste, the statistician, who’s been on a disappearing act for days at a time. He returns my flash disk as a peace offering! We go up to his office, and he likes what I’ve done in terms of my presentation. However, he wants not just to improve my French, but to fiddle around with the order of slides and alter some of the comments. I’ve got no problem with any of that, but he’s a slow and clumsy operator on a keyboard, and it takes forever. Even by 6.00 we’re still not quite finished, and we’ve done two and a half hours overtime! It’s the longest day I’ve done at the office for months. It’s dark when we walk home. He walks with me as far as the University where his wife is in the first year of a management course. I’m not quite sure who’s looking after their little baby because both sets of parents live somewhere up in the Rongi direction.

I’ve had to put off Stéphanie for another day; must see her before the end of Wednesday or the Dutch crowd will be getting angry!

Back home I collapse in a heap in one of the armchairs while Tom does the cooking.

Well, I’ve earned my keep today!

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