This week I was asked to go to a local national school with our Service-Learning coordinator to deliver some school bags to the level 1 students that were starting school for the first time at age 7 or 8. I heard stories about the national schools but until I actually went to one of the schools, I really didn’t understand.
Turn off the tarmac onto a dirt road around a tree down a hill, past two places where the road is almost washed out and you will find 5 cinderblock class rooms. This is a school the government built. It is only 6 years old and currently serves level 1-7 and has over 1000 students in 7 class rooms and 5-10 teachers. This year almost 200 students started level 1. They will be in 2 classrooms for half of the day then in the afternoon level 2 will come and use the same classrooms. Yes, that is correct 100 students in a classroom with 1 teacher!
I was asked to come along so I could take pictures. A group from the Netherlands were sponsoring 40 level 1 students. Without this sponsorship, they would not have been allowed attend school. There is no tuition to attend a national school but they need to have a school uniform and random other expenses that keep the those who have separated from those who have not. It was a blessing to witness the excitement on the little faces and the gratitude of the parents.