Friday, April 22, 2011


This past week there were no classes as it was the break between the first and second trimesters. But in Mozambique school breaks don’t mean vacation for the teachers, only the students. During these breaks the teachers come into school every day to complete grading, an incredibly tedious process because schools are huge here and everything is done by hand. Every single grade for each individual student (about 2000 in my school, and my school is one of the smaller ones) in every single discipline (about 10, depending on what grade they’re in) is written in pencil in four separate locations by the director of that class. (So, for example, last year as director of class 4 of 8th grade, I wrote out all of the grades for my 50 students in four separate places). Once this is done the teachers split into teams of three or four. In these teams we check all of these pencil-written grades to make sure they all concord, one person dictating the grade and everyone else verifying. Then we go back through and “paint” all of these grades, writing over the pencil with a blue pen, once again checking to make sure all of the grades in the separate locations agree. It is a tedious process, to say the very least. I am not director of a class this year (I think this was due to a fortunate oversight where I slipped through the cracks in my move from first cycle, 8th-10th grade, and second cycle, 11th-12th grade. Aside from hating the class I was director of last year, I also don’t think it is very helpful to the students to have a PCV as a director, because so many of the issues we have to deal with are very culturally-based).
Over the weekend one of our colleagues was hit by a car while he was riding his motorcycle and is in very bad shape. I haven’t heard any progress reports recently, but I believe he had hit his head, and he had been sent to the provincial hospital to be treated. His 8th grade son is a member of my English club, we are all praying for his recovery.
I took over his class for the week, completing his grading. We encountered a problem with this only once, when a student’s name was written on one list as “Octaviano” and on another list as “Octaviana” (yes, odds are that this student was the eighth-born in their family), thus changing from a male student to a female student. Since a lot of the class statistics involve gender (how many girls and boys, how many boys passing and girls passing, etc) this was a big problem and threw off my numbers initially. When we finally realized where the problem was, it then took a while to find a teacher who could say with certainty whether the student was a boy or girl. (The classes at my school have about 50 students in each of them and many of my colleagues teach at least 10 different classes, more in disciplines that only meet a couple times weekly. Thus many of my colleagues know few of their students’ names, normally just the best and the worst students get remembered and all 45 of the others get lost in the shuffle.) I got lucky this grading period though, I got put in a group with two other very work-focused colleagues, so we sped through our work (whereas many times last year we struggled to get everyone in our group sitting down and not on their cell phones at the same time).

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