First day at Libala!

Today was my first day at Libala Basic School in a remote village called Mukuni here in Livingstone, Zambia. It was very orientation/get to know the school based which was nice for a transition into it. I met the “secretary” (not sure what they refer to her as) who showed me around to all of the classes. This school isn’t like a typical American school however, it has like four or five different building with two classrooms each. Classes are typically around 40-50 children who sit three to a desk and when the desks run out, the rest sit on the floor—definitely not the best learning environment. Anyways, I met all of the teachers and were introduced to the children who were beyond excited to have a new “teacher.” Although I wouldn’t consider myself a teacher at all, the children were very receptive and welcoming. I am working with Sister Mary who teaches one of the grade 4 classes and will be teaching both math and science. Right now, they’re just finishing up multiplication and will be starting division next week, so hopefully I can handle that! For science, they’re currently on the topic of forests… I’ll be reading a bit over that as I prepare lessons and such for the students.
There are about 1000 kids that attend Libala Basic School, a public school here in Livingstone. Although Zambia claims to have free education, no such thing really exists. Parents have a choice to put their children through private or public school (Libala being public). The expense for public school is 30,000 K/year or about 6 dollars, which is a substantial amount here. Private school runs about 1,000,000 K/year or about 200 dollars. The schools are given little from the government so the school’s really only source of income comes from the fee that the students fee—hence the very rundown facilities and such. The school buildings are basically four cement walls with some holes for windows (no glass) and a chalk board. Each day, teachers must “check out” chalk to use for the day. All of the “textbooks” aka old, paperback books must be checked out and returned each day as well. Their education system is quite different however as the government sets all syllabi that must be strictly followed. The government also says how long each subject will be per day, tells the school what textbook they must use, etc. so the education (at least public education) seems to be pretty standardized as each student is using the same book and learning the same thing regardless of the school they are attending.
Once the orientation at the school was finished, I headed back to Fawlty Towers (hostel) and layed out for a bit by the pool before enjoying a predinner snack of crepes (free from the hostel… yes!) and coffee (I’m slowly adjusting to drinking it black). Louise and I headed across the street to the grocery store and bought some stuff for dinner then cooked chili before having some relax time. School starts at 7, which means getting up around 5:45 for plenty of time to get ready, make lunch, take a taxi to school, and be there on time so bed is going to be quite early tonight as the morning will come all too soon.
Life is great and I’m excited for the experiences that Libala will offer. Also, the children are absolutely adorable!
~Susan

So, with wicked slow internet here this was the best I could find but here is some of Libala… more buildings like what you see also surround behind the photo.

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