By Andreas, Vegar, Karoline and Gry (Grade 1-7)

The second week at Machiu Primary School is over. It’s been a week with a lot of things going on. It’s been “hectic”, as they say in Afrikaans. On Thursday, the school had their annual Awards Day.  Every day prior to Awards’ Day there were preparations going on. The learners were practicing on different types of entertainment, the youngest learners were practicing how to walk and receive the awards, and the teachers were laminating diplomas and decorating the hall. The 1st Grade also had their own Awards Day, where everyone got a diploma which highlighted something they were great at, it could be both social and academic.

We got invited to hand over the academic and sports awards, which was exciting. Luckily, we didn’t have to announce the winners, which was good because pronouncing the names is complicated. Seeing the learner’s excitement when receiving their awards and how proud they were showing it around to everyone was lovely. This day showed what seems to be a big part of the South African culture, with a lot of music, singing and dancing.

The resources vary in each classroom. The government gives working books in Mathematics, English and Life skills. The learners must buy their own pencils, rulers, rubbers, etc., but very often the teacher buys equipment for everyone. Every learner has their own writing book for every subject. In Grade 7 they must share textbooks with their learning partner. After 3rd Grade the teachers only have 2-3 subjects each, and since the classroom belongs to the teacher, the learners are going back and forth. Since the schedule has a variety of subjects the learners need to bring all their books to and from school every day, since they don’t have a permanent classroom or lockers they can use.

The classrooms are the same size as a Norwegian classroom, but there are double the number of learners inside them. Therefore, it is not a lot of space to do activities inside the classroom – which results in traditional teaching. Some teachers try to make good use of their classroom and comes up with activities and games that is possible within the small area. For example, in Mathematics in Grade 7, the learners were learning about perimeter and area and the activity/game was to find a pencil sharpener that the teacher hid somewhere around in the classroom. He used mathematics terminology to explain where he hid the pencil sharpener. Since there are around 40 learners in each class, the teacher doesn’t have the capacity nor time to reach over everybody.

In one of the classrooms the teacher has bought her own projector. The other teachers mainly use blackboard to teach. The school has two printers and a laminating machine. Many of the teachers use them to supplement the textbooks since they don’t have any workbooks. The printers are mainly used to print out work sheets and activities for the learners.

This and last week we have tried to take the learners out of the classroom to do activities, since the classrooms are so packed. It looks like they haven’t had a lot of lectures outside because the learners looked confused and didn’t know they could learn anything outside of the classroom. A few things we didn’t think about when we took the learners outside was that every classroom has their door and windows open. It was not allowed to make a lot of noise because it was disturbing to the other learners. Another factor was that the temperature was high, and the sun was burning. The outside lessons should therefore be short and in the beginning of the day.