This week we will be writing about the resources and circumstances in and around the school, in this affects democracy and participation from the pupils. One of the first things we noticed about the pupils in the school is that they all look similar as they were wearing the same uniform and had the same haircut. The only difference in the uniforms were that the boys were wearing pants and the girls were wearing skirts. We were told that the reason behind the uniforms and haircuts is to prevent visible differences between people with more or less money/resources.
The classrooms have the same size as normal Norwegian classrooms. These classrooms are located in different buildings, and the “hallways” between the classrooms are outside. The fact that the pupils have to go outside when they leave the classroom contributes to dirty and dusty floors. Inside the classroom the walls are bare. All the classrooms have a chalkboard and above it you’ll find the only thing they have hanging on the wall; a cross and a prayer.
In contrast to Norwegian classrooms where its normal to have 20-25 pupils in each classroom, the classrooms here have 60-80 pupils in each room. This means that there’s little space in the classroom and the some of the pupils have to sit three and three behind a desk meant for two. also there is no space for their backpacks, so they either have to sit on it or have it in their laps. The resources in the school are limited, and one of the consequences from this is that the pupils have to share textbooks. However they do have their own workbook. We have seen limits in other resources as well, were as in maths the pupils have to share calculators, which can be a time-stealer.
The structure of the school consists of thirteen buildings. Six of the buildings are used for classrooms, with a total of 18 classrooms. In addition the school has two computer labs (which is the only place in the school the pupils have internet-connection through computers), one big hall, a basketballcourt, science room (which is currently not in use), the teachers area, the administration offices with bathroom for the teachers and a kitchen for making lunch for the students, which they get every day. There are two separate facilities for boys and girls toilets.
The structure of the timetable for the school is supposed to be three hourse before and after lunch, were the lunch-break is one hour, and each subject lasts for one hour. So in one day the pupils have six different subjects. However starting from next week, as we are closing in on their finale exames, some of the pupils will have morning and afternoon classes. In our practice we have experienced that the timetable is not that strict, some of the teachers can change the allocated time with others. We have also experienced that some of the teachers come late to class or don’t show up at all, while others continue their lesson past the given time. This is something that could also relate to the African-time concept mentioned in the previous post… The classes are often teacher-oriented, and the pupils have no influence over the learning materials.
Next week we will talk more about the pedagogy in the classroom, stay tuned