A new school year has begun! Our small school, located on the farm, provides education for all of our preschool and elementary-aged students and approximately 35 children from the community. This year I will continue to teach a third and fourth grade combination class. Let me introduce my students.
I am really enjoying my class this year. The fourth graders are an exceptionally gifted group, and the third graders are eager to learn. The students enjoy coming to school and are enthusiastic about most subjects.
Four days into the new term I received disappointing news. The young woman who had served as my classroom helper last year, Zanande, would be transferred by the government to school in a different community. I had spent a substantial amount of time and energy training Zanande last year. Our hope was that Zanande would be my replacement when our term here is complete. This was a significant setback.
The past two weeks have also been disappointing in another way. The vision for the school has always been for missionary and Swazis teachers to work side-by-side. The educational culture in Swaziland (generally speaking) is not excellent. Teachers may show up five minutes before school starts and they leave five minutes after. Sometimes they don’t show up at all. At some schools students are beaten regularly for minor infractions, such as not completing an assignment quickly enough or having their shirt untucked. Teachers aren’t committed to pushing their students. They teach the government issued textbooks, period.
Currently we have one missionary (me) teaching at the school with four Swazis. Two of these teachers are not credentialed. Our head teacher (principal) is also a Swazi. Since the school year started several weeks ago, I’ve noticed a big change in the attitudes of our teachers. I’m wondering if we’ve lost enough critical mass (two missionary teachers and Peace Corps volunteer are no longer teaching) that the culture of the school has shifted. The commitment to excellence seems to be fading. It has been a very discouraging few weeks.
Please pray for New Life Primary School. We need guidance and direction. We need wisdom to know when to push and when to let go. We also need help.
Are you an experienced teacher that would be willing to join us in Swaziland? We need you.
Please pray that God would send the reinforcements we need to provide a quality education to the children at New Life Primary School.