By Andreas, Vegar, Karoline and Gry (Grade 1-7)
After a week at Machiu Primary School in Gqeberha there are a lot of impressions we need to process. We are really happy to have got this opportunity to see other perspectives on how to run a school, according to their society and government. The school is situated in a rough neighborhood, and in addition to guards at the entrances, there is a fence around the whole school, which is quite different from what we are used to in Norway.
We got a warm welcome when we arrived, where we presented ourselves for both the administration and the teachers. The administration building and the classroom buildings for Grade 1-4 are very colorful with a lot of paintings and sayings. Some of the sayings are to inspire the teachers and others to display and remind the children of the school’s vision and rules.
The Grade 1 classroom looks a lot like a Norwegian grade 1 classroom, with a lot of illustrations, colors, a book corner, and concretization materials. There are the alphabet, different number series and different posters for each subject on the walls. The learners sit in groups of 6 and each group has a helper which corresponds to a Norwegian “ordenselev”.
The classrooms for Grade 5-7 are furnished differently depending on the teacher. Each teacher has their own classroom, and the learners switch around depending on the subject. Some classrooms remind us of those we see in Norway, with illustrations of literary devices, maps, planets etc. The big difference is the number of desks and chairs. In these classrooms, there are around 50 learners. Still the rooms are the same size, and there is not much space in between the desks.
When it comes to democracy and citizenship, the school seems to have a lot in common with Norwegian schools’ visions, as mentioned earlier by the visions on the wall. The different types of persons are all important when raising future citizens. Although there are differences in the types of society the learners will meet in South Africa and Norway, we all want the children to be respectful, responsible, and careful. The ways of practicing democracy and citizenship seems to be quite different in the two countries. Here the learners wear school uniforms to even out the social and economic differences, which can be seen as a way of being a part of the citizenship and give the impression that everyone has the same possibilities. In Norway the pupils wear what they want. This can be seen as a part of practicing democracy, by giving everyone the chance to express themselves through clothes.