|A typical public school classroom|
On this occasion we had a special treat – the new Form 1 (Freshman) group of girls led the assembly. Forms 3 and 4 were in Nanyuki attending Set Books, an all day event in which a professional acting troop performs scenes from the books that they are required to read in those Forms, those books that will play a prominent role in the looming Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (K.C.S.E.) examination. One of the books being performed was Ngugi Wa Thiongo’s The River Between. Thiongo is a famous Kenyan writer known for his fearless pursuits of highly controversial sociopolitical topics, which he surreptitiously (and sometimes not so surreptitiously) weaves into his plot lines, cleverly avoiding naming names.
After the flag was ceremoniously and solemnly hoisted (an event complete with rigid salutes and synchronous marched steps), their pledge of allegiance recited, and the country song expertly sang, a group of Form 1’s performed a traditional song and dance and zipped off a motivation quote. Principal Jason Doherty then offered some enthusiastic words of encouragement. Matron on Duty, teacher Mercy (biology), concluded; she was her usual eloquent and captivating self.
Kathleen and I spent the morning clumsily hopping from classroom to classroom, observing best teaching practices and student reaction to teacher methodology. I conspicuously sat in a corner video recording with an iPad. Kahleen diligently took notes and transcribed dialogue. She didn’t miss a beat.
|Camel crossing on our trek|
|Acacia scrub land|
We toured a few classrooms – received sonorous greetings from Class 4 (4th grade) student and Class 8 (8th grade) students. The majority of the 8th graders declared that they wished to be lawyers when they grew up. The female 8th graders were prompted to stand tall while we celebrated their achievements. Many of the students at Ol Girigiri are children of pastoralist peoples and females often do not move on to or complete their secondary education. It made me happy that our representative USD sample was a majority female, but they will need much more motivation and support then receiving the encouraging words of a successful yet strange, backpack-toting assembly of white-ish females to motivate them to continue in their studies. Life is hard in these parts.
Our day also concluded ceremoniously, we handed gifts of school supplies to the 8th grade class. Each gift was to be delivered separately by a different USD spokesperson. They then chose one student to bestow the gift upon. The exchange culminated in an exaggerated handshake, and a simultaneous turn of the head and smile for the camera. The students clapped and sang as we filed out the door.