Friday, 6 March 2009

a wasted trip to Gikomero

March 4th

Into the office as usual, and I’m expecting to go out to Gikomero school out in the mountains of Nyarusange. But Claude intercepts me and tells me the senior six results (Rwandan equivalent of “A” levels) have just come in and he wants me to do the analysis. That isn’t difficult to do, and only takes me about an hour and a half, but one page of data has gone missing so everything’s incomplete. That keeps happening; it’s because the crafty headteachers intercept the results and accidentally take home with them the original documents. Eventually we will have results available on line and the problem will be solved. Eventually, too, Kigali will do all the analysis automatically and that will save days of work here at District level. Dream on…….

By the time I’ve done all the work for Claude it’s too late to visit Gikomero in the morning, so I decide to go in the afternoon. It’s a nuisance because it’s a fine day, and for once I’m not going to be bothered by torrential rain and muddy roads.

In the afternoon I can’t find a taxibus willing to take me to Gikomero, so I have to hire a big moto. We get to the school and I dismiss my driver, only to find that Vincent, the headteacher, isn’t there. He’s gone to a meeting in Gitarama and I’ve probably passed him on the road. To make things worse, two of his four teachers have also “had” to go to the District to sort out some of their documentation. Two other teachers are not scheduled to teach in the afternoon and are sitting in the staffroom. Meanwhile the three classes are sitting there without anybody teaching them.

I’m cross with myself for messing up the day, and cross with this school. They have decided to work the Rwandan equivalent of a “continental day” with long morning and short afternoon. But on Wednesdays they work a longer afternoon in order to get all the necessary teaching hours in by the end of the week. So why on earth have they all decided to go to Gitarama on a Wednesday and abandon their classes. If this sort of thing happened in England it would lead to formal warnings and threats of dismissal. Here, even in the new TC schools with everything to play for, it seems that you only teach if you can’t find any possible reason not to….

So unfortunately I have no choice but to go back home. It’s a lovely walk of about a mile or so up; a woody, gentle slope, through a couple of villages, to the main road. I get the usual dumbstruck stares from people in the fields and the usual demands for money from little children.

At least I’m able to use the rest of the afternoon to write up some reports and get up to date with paperwork. Nobody’s been expecting me to be able to do anything today because of the state of my tooth – my mouth has ballooned out on the affected side. It doesn’t hurt but it looks spectacular.

In the evening Tom is frantic; he has to prepare lunch for his party of visiting Americans and he has promised them home made Doritos and guacamole, so I’m in charge of doing our own evening meal. Between the pair of us we’re cooking from about half past five until well after nine when we collapse into our beds. God this life is tiring!

Best thing about today – sorting out as much of the “A” level results as I could. Claude had it in his little hand within 90 minutes, which is something of a record!

Worst thing – waste of time and money travelling to a school which I wasn’t able to visit. It had to happen sooner or later. I’m also very conscious that sooner or later I’m quite likely to get seriously stranded overnight in these rural parts. So, the moral of today’s story is that I must make sure I do all my visits in the mornings!

1 comment:

Ingina y'Igihanga said...

Bruce,

I most sincerely thank you for your insightful "rwanderings". I only wish you could be sending your observations to some officials in Mineduc.

When we are here receiving reports that everybody is working very hard, and daily pledges come in that people are going to work even harder, our children are loafing in teacher-less classes.

IMAGINE! One could whip somebody for it.

Unfortunately, I am only a wee little fish in Government.

Ingina