Monday, April 11, 2011
Monday April 11, 2011
Today was a nice day although there were political protests in the town where I am staying. It is Ntinda outside of Kampala central. The opposition leader walked to work and called for others to do the same to protest rising taxes. They labeled it when it is a crime to walk. He was arrested. There was some tear gas thrown at the crowds and some children found themselves caught between the walkers and the police. We did not have class this evening and the students did not want to risk it. However, this morning we went to Tropical Primary School, a lovely growing school. Lots of construction going on this year. Last year, it was the worst and now it is well on its way to becoming the best... My colleague did a Math lesson. The children -grade 6 - responded well but we were amazed at how they could not think differently than the exact way they were taught. The class was asked which days of the year could be written with only ones. It literally took about 20 minutes to draw that out of a class of 21 students. they answered with 2s or with Monday. Somehow the concept was off their scope. Other similar problems were noted. However, if the teacher asked them to solve a problem they were learning, they could do it. Not a lot of constructivist learning, not a lot of imagination. Not good. After lunch, we started out to find Kampala Primary School where some OLPCs left some 80 XOs in 2009. It took forever. No one could lead us to the school and along the way, we introduced ourselves to the boda boda (the roving motorcyclists that are like taxis), passed the secondary school, spoke with the headmaster at Old Kampala primary school, then the workers at a craft place for the elders, and finally the Kampala Primary School! It was a Muslim school and the headmaster greeted us warmly. He told us that they do not have power so the computers were put away and sorry, the person with the key to the closet was gone. I asked him if there was anything I could do and he said the teachers did not have enough training. We exchanged contact information and I told him, I would train his teachers online if they joined my distance learning course. Hopefully, they will enroll. The children gathered all around us. It is amazing how warm and friendly they are- so excited to see us, take pictures, laugh and run. Only one adorable little girl (perhaps 1 year old) cried. I suppose a camera is a strange machine for one so young and sheltered. Back at the ranch, we watched the videos of the protests. Hopefully, all will remain peaceful. We still have not gotten the other 10 XOs that are in Customs. It seems now that we are operating on a 10 hour time difference from here (Customs) to Texas (where we are trying to get a letter to Customs re-routing them to Kampala University). I only have tomorrow to settle this because I will be off to Jinja for 2 days of training, hopefully with all 20 XOs. I also STILL do not have any appointment with a minister of Education. I also learned today that Kenya's government is not sponsoring the XOs there as I had previously thought. I suppose for right now, my only option is to fund-raise. Of course all the places we visit really want the computers. So many children...so little education available. HELP!