In this classroom, there are very few desks and chairs. Most of you are sitting on the floor. We will be in here together for most of the period. How do you feel right now?
What if this was your classroom?
This was your gym?
You spend all day in this one classroom, with 100 other students. There are no textbooks. You may be lucky enough to have paper and a pencil.
It takes you over an hour to walk to school. There is no running water, electricity, school bus, lunch, gym or art class.
Your family sacrifices what little money they have to be able to send you to school. Many families that you know can not afford to send their children to this school, so you are grateful for the opportunity.
This is how life is at my cousin Ben’s school in Mozambique. Ben teaches 11th grade Biology and Chemistry. He teaches up to 70 students at a time in one classroom and he has only one textbook. He is a Peace Corps volunteer.
struggling to rebuild it’s educational system
intense civil war that lasted for almost 30 years.
Almost 60 percent of the country's schools were either destroyed or closed during the war.
Many teachers left the country during this time.
Education is compulsory for boys and girls but is not free.
Less than half of children actually attend primary school
22 percent reach secondary school.
Many families cannot afford to send their children to school and need the children to work on their farms.
Ben has volunteered to teach at this school for at least two years.
Most of the students at his school, end their education at 8th grade.
The students that continue with their education hope to go to an university and become teachers, nurses, doctors, or own their own business.
Only 4 out of 10,000 students will move on to higher education.
Info about the Peace Corps
Volunteer program established in 1961 that is run by the U.S. Government
Volunteers are typically college graduates who work in a country for two years, after three months of orientation
There are three goals of the Peace Corps program:
Training and education Promote a better understanding of Americans Promote a better understanding of other peoples
Currently there are almost 8000 volunteers serving in 77 countries.
What do Peace Corps Volunteers do?
Work with local farmers to increase food production and to conserve the environment
Help people start businesses, use technology, and offer workplace training
Volunteers work with communities to improve water and sanitation facilities.
35% of all Peace Corps Volunteer assist with education
Peace Corps Volunteer Stories Two stories from volunteers in Benin
Ben’s school is in a town called Chiure, in Cabo Delgado Province of Northern Mozambique.
He lives in a thatched roofed hut with another Peace Corps volunteer. He cooks his food on a open flame and sleeps outside in a hammock. (There are bats in his hut)
Chiure Chiure is divided into two parts, Chiure and Chiure-Velho (Old Chiure). The school lies between the two towns. The village contains several small markets where farmers sell goods, as well as a cashew processing plant. The nearest large city is a full day’s walk. Chiure is located between the cities of Pemba (coast) and Nampula (inland)
Chiure Centerand SDMS What differences can you see? These pictures are at the same scale.
Classroom Exchange Project
This month we will be creating a portfolio with artifacts illustrating our culture
Ben’s students will be creating their own portfolio which will be able to see in December when my Aunt and Uncle return from a vacation with Ben to South Africa
During the school year we will be talking to Ben and his students using Skype
Ben’s Letter Greetings, My name is Ben Van Arnam. I am a Peace Corps volunteer serving in Mozambique in Southern Africa. I live and work in a town called Chiure, in Cabo Delgado Province of Northern Mozambique. Chiure is a rapidly developing town situated along the main North-South road through the country. The town received electricity just two years ago, a development which has stimulated much new growth. Under construction currently is a new district hospital, a new secondary school, and several stores in town. Chiure's enduring symbol is a 200-foot-high, domed rock formation, located just outside of the center of town but visible from anywhere, that has ancestral, spiritual significance to Chiure's inhabitants and whose summit is guarded by snakes.
My primary assignment here in Chiure is to teach high school science; I teach 11th grade Biology and Chemistry. The secondary school of Chiure is located an hour and 15 minute walk from town and was built in the 1960s by colonial, Portuguese missionaries. It is a complex of buildings most of which are falling apart from 50 years of no maintenance; a third of the classrooms cannot be used because the roof is falling in. But Chiure Secondary School boasts a rich history (it is one of the oldest secondary schools in the province) and a vibrant school community. Over 3500 students from 8th to 12th grade daily make the hour-plus walk from town to school to study. Students only study for half the day, with 9th and 10th grade studying in the morning and 8th, 11th, and 12th grade in the afternoon. My students in the 11th grade, at 60-70 students per classroom, are a dedicated group, because so few Mozambicans actually continue their education through 11th and 12th grade. Many of them want to continue their studies further to become doctors, nurses, teachers, and business managers. There are few opportunities for higher education and well-salaried employment, so their path is a difficult one.
To speak a little of my life here in Chiure, I live in a thatch-roofed, mud-brick house in a village just beyond the school. All my neighbors are subsistence farmers, who during the rainy season, cultivate large plots of land out in the bush, hoping to grow enough food to get by until the next year's harvest. After March it stops raining (it won't begin until Nov or Dec) and water becomes scarce. People hand-dig wells in the low areas in the bush, then wait in long lines to fill buckets with milky-brown water. Cholera is a huge problem. Life here in the village is at times loud and turbulent, at times tranquil, but always warm and friendly. Meals are a time of togetherness and community. The whole family, inviting as well any neighbors who happen to be walking by, sit in a circle around two plates. One plate has xima (pronounced "shee-ma"): a thick, corn-meal paste, the other is caril (curry): usually cooked pumpkin leaves, sometimes with beans or dried fish. One grabs a clump of xima with the right hand, forms it into a ball, and then dips it into the caril. Everyone eats together. It is a tradition of daily life that I have come to love.
My service in Peace Corps has provided me with a rich understanding of a people and culture different from my own. It is an experience that celebrates both cultural differences and the universal humanness that we all share. I hope that the collaboration between your classroom in American and mine here in Mozambique can enrich this cross-cultural connection. Sincerely, Ben On Oct 2, 2010, my one-year anniversary of arriving in Mozambique