Monday, June 18, 2012

Computer Club and Packages Info

I have started a computer club for the students of the Junior Secondary School.  There was a large amount of interest when registration began about a month ago.  Around 57 kids signed up.  There are only 22 computers in the lab so I assigned either Wednesday or Thursday for each student and decided to split the club in two.  (A quick note:  There was a strike of all government workers, including teachers, which occurred before we arrived.  All clubs and sports at the school had been postponed until the issues were resolved, with the end result of a bunch of bored students.  Many of the students live in dorms and room on school grounds.  They have little to entertain them on weekends so I thought a club would help.)  The first week of the club only 1 student showed up.  The sports and other clubs had finally started, but that meant this new computer club was a distant memory for them all.  As interested as the kids are with computers and technology, soccer (or football as the English influence has it called) is king.  Needless to say I was discouraged and upset since I had set aside two days a week instead of just one like I had planned.  A good friend and fellow teacher assured me there were plenty of kids that were not playing sports, but were merely watching them or just hanging out in other places.  He advised me to target those groups rather than kids that registered.

The next week I made sure to remind the students about the club on the assigned days and got 5 or so students.  After an introduction of themselves and gauging their knowledge I asked each of them what they wanted to learn about computers or what they wanted to do with them.  They all replied in a very similar way “I want to know everything about computers.”  It is a weird feeling trying to guide a class where the students have no expectations or understanding of the possible rewards.  I am still not sure how to keep them interested since most of the goals I tell them about are too abstract to be real motivation.  We are getting there though.  We did some training with Mavis Beacon (the typing teaching program) and they are not ready for secretary jobs, but they are hunting and pecking much faster now.  The last club meeting had 15 students and we watched tutorials on Excel usage.  The progress has been different than I had expected, but it has left me hopeful for the next term and next year.  My next initiative will be a study club that offers tutoring.  This is not directly in line with my Peace Corps mission (as I understand it) but the school can certainly use it.

After Junior Secondary School, which I teach (and is equivalent to our middle schools in the USA) the student has to make certain grades or gets removed from the school system.  There are some other government options for the kids such as the brigade which focuses on skilled labor work i.e. making bricks, electrical work, plumbing, etc.  I don’t know how easy it is to get accepted or enrolled in this option.  In the JSS system there are Form 1, 2, and 3, 3 being the last year of the JSS.  Right now the students are writing their exams for the end of the term and I was looking over the shoulder of an English teacher and saw a Form 3 student that got 0 out of 50 on her exam.  I have heard the student answer basic questions about the text the exam was on so I am left wondering how they prepare for these exams.  The highest score was 36 out of 50, so it is a widespread issue.  I am hoping to get the new materials together and come up with some good techniques for studying ASAP.  The good news is the students I have spoken with showed interest and seem willing to put forth the effort.  Either way I will remain optimistic and keep on keeping on.  Also I will try to get some photos up next time.

When you send a package please email us that it is on the way, so we can keep an eye out for it.  Also please write down the Customs Declaration id number located above the spot for your last name.  We have had a couple of package go missing and they advised we can track them using this number.  It has been suggested that when you send a package you can write a religious saying on the package – we have been told it helps “ensure” proper delivery.  Who knows if this is true, but it is worth a try.  Thanks again for all the support and goodies - they make our worst days into our best ones.  

Love John and Tracy

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