Sunday, 15 June 2008

Hooray, I'm, back on the road!

June 10th

Well, today I’m off to do a school inspection. Cyeza primary is some way up-country and I’ll need a good moto to get there. I’m wandering down the main road into town when Alphonse stops for me in the District pick-up truck, so I get a lift into the office. The census forms still aren’t there, so I leave straight away to find a moto to get me to Cyeza.

There aren’t any motos around because its rush hour, and I walk right down to the main road before one of the little bikes stops for me. This isn’t what I planned; I expect I’ll have to get off and walk every time we come to a hill. However, this bike is in good shape and the driver is competent, and we get all the way to the school without having to dismount.

Cyeza is a middle sized primary school with a mixture of brick and mud-brick buildings. There are neat flower beds, respected by the children. The headmistress is welcoming, and shows me round the site. The school grounds are extensive, with loads of manioc plants, plus coffee trees and even three or four banana trees. They’ve even terraced one plot of land to make it easier to work. Not bad for a primary school!

I launch into the “inspection administrative”. I’ve done my homework thoroughly and come with all sorts of questions about drop out rates and so on, but I don’t get any of the answers I want. The head is not being evasive; I think she genuinely doesn’t see what I’m trying to show her, and my French isn’t quite good enough to pin her down. Her admin is actually very thorough; I can’t fault her at all. Cyeza has some of the worst results in the district, but this woman is well aware of it and has a plan to combat it. She’s in the school all the time instead of swanning around like many others; she checks lessons regularly; she demands to see her staff’s work plans and matches them against what they should be doing. They test the children every week and there’s a big practise mock exam for the 6ème coming up at the end of term. (See tomorrow’s blog entry). I’m here to support her, not to condemn, and I don’t see what more she could possibly be doing. I tell her she has my total confidence and offer to help in any way I can.

I watch a year 6 English lesson; very traditional – can’t fault it except that it’s deadly dull. But the teacher’s English isn’t bad. I watch a 1ère French lesson where they’re learning prepositions of place – “sous la table”, “sur le pupitre” and so on. This is better – the teacher makes good use of mime and gesture, and despite having a class of 55 she copes very well. She must be exhausted at the end of it, though.

I debrief with the head and borrow from her a load of previous P6 exam papers which I’ll get photocopied and then return to her.

I dismissed my moto when I arrived at the school. I decided to start walking and flag down a moto when one passes me. Three miles later, and up a very long hill, I’m still walking. There’s been several motos, but they’re either going the other way or they’ve got passengers. I’m being asked for money left, right and centre by everyone I pass, especially the children.

Eventually a moto stops for me, and takes me all the way back to my flat. In the afternoon I write up my report.

Teresa rings me and is happy with the itinerary for her trip. Good – now I can get on with booking things like accommodation.

Also, I finally get through to the priest in Rongi to ask if I can stay at the presbytery tomorrow night. It’s so nice – I was afraid he’d have forgotten all about me, but he remembers my name and what I’m doing, and he’ll be pleased to entertain me tomorrow night. They don’t get many visitors at Rongi; it’s the parish the furthest out from their Kabgayi headquarters.

Karen texts to invite Tom and I out for a meal tomorrow, but I have to decline as I’ll be away.

Best thing about today – getting out on the road again. Yay! It feels good. Also I’ve discovered that Busekera primary is a “satellite school” of Sholi, so I can visit both in one day next week. That means I’ll have done all the Cyeza schools. So, Claude, please can I have my brownie points?

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