Saturday, May 4, 2013

Next Wednesday: Bring it on.

Seven hundred and ninety copies. That's what I hefted, collated and stapled, into the van this morning as I finished up preparation for my class commencing at the Y's Comprehensive Institute this Wednesday. Ninety-six future teachers, mostly from (and going to) lower-income and lower-education scenarios. This past week at a meeting, I discovered that not all of them will be able to read and write fluently (they will be early childhood teachers, but clearly this still creates a significant obstacle in class). I looked skeptically at my copies (i.e. the time and cash I forked over), hoping they'd be read, understood, and even kept.

The more that I have come to understand about education in Uganda in the last few weeks, the more that I have been
a) convinced that effective education is in positively crippling demand,
b) education is affecting a definitive angle for the country as a whole, and
c) been grateful for this opportunity that I've prayed over and troubled over, but am now incredibly humbled and daunted by the size of the task.

So many of the women I teach will be going into mammoth-sized classes of young children (2-6 year olds)--to the tune of 40-120 children, likely with only one other teacher. Many of them will make the equivalent of $2 per day (plus two meals and a simple room). Sometimes they will not be paid on time, or what was promised. Their students may arrive hungry, unable to speak or not yet out of diapers, tired from the journey to school and a cold night sleeping behind thin walls in a noisy neighborhood, and without supplies. Some of these women are teaching not because they've been "inspired" to teach, but because they need food on the table; perhaps they didn't receive high enough scores to pursue professions like medicine or business or another coveted profession, and teaching was the only profession left. I wanted them to bring scissors and glue to class to create our visual aids, but Oliver warned me that they may not be able to afford glue.

Right now, one of my challenges has been to recreate my educational resources into those which a teacher with incredibly limited resources can purchase. I am experimenting with straws, toothpicks, g. nuts (like Spanish peanuts), beans, rice, maize flour, bottle caps, sand. I continue to ask myself, how can I inspire these women and give them the best education possible, yet not overwhelm them or teach entirely above their heads? I was reminded by a friend that the goal in my six class periods is not award-winning teachers, but simply to move one or two steps up.

I am excited. Of course I'm also a bit overwhelmed. There's going to be a big learning curve for all involved! In more than one area of my life, I feel blind right now.

The verse for me in so many ways this week:
I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them. - Isaiah 42:16

I am thankful tonight that He sees--that He loves these women, loves the kids of Uganda, sees the raw need here and doesn't turn His face. Praying that He'll show me what to do in spite of myself, and triumph in the ways He made me and planned to do this good thing. I'm trusting that God, like the last year and a half--heck, like the entirety of my life--will blow in and steal this show.

1 comment:

Ruthie H. said...

How exciting that you have an opportunity to speak into the lives of these teachers! May God give you the grace and wisdom you need. I also have a growing burden for the Ugandan education system, but often feel overwhelmed by the vastness of the need. Yet, God only asks us to be faithful in the place He has called us to. Blessings to you!