Saturday, February 6, 2016

Village School Program Update

The school year in the Central African Republic started in October 2015.  In January I finally got a copy of the report about the end of the school year (July 2015) from the Village School Program.  Here are some encouraging details.  (Pictures are a couple of years old…)

Student enrollment in October 2014
Student enrollment in June 2015 (% of those who started the year) *
2,550 (84%)
1,245 (97%)
3,795 (96%)
End of Year Test Results - % of students who passed
Test Results of entry into High School (6e) - % of students who passed
* Most of the attrition can be attributed to problems of insecurity in the regions – a few villages are more greatly affected than others. 

The Curriculum Supervisor, David Zodo, visited the schools, observing teachers and evaluating their teaching using the Competency Approach.  He saw 52 of the 62 teachers, visiting most twice to evaluate if they are putting suggestions into practice.  (He has not able to evaluate all teachers because of insecurity in some town and mechanical problems with his motorcycle. 

The Community Developer, Mathias Votoko, worked with all Associations of Parents of Students (APE) to develop budgets, train them as to their duties, and encourage maintenance of schools.  Parent contributions were up 24% over the previous year.

The Director, Abel Service, along with David and Mathias, trained all the teachers during the regular in-service time in September.  This year’s emphasis was on the program to teach citizenship and peace-building (developed in Cameroon and also used by Catholic schools in the western region of CAR).  Soon after this training, the APE were also trained.

Two permanent building are almost completed.  The program had to select schools along the main, paved road so that materials could be effectively delivered.  Even so, they had difficulties with getting supplies when the road was not safe.  Also, the latrine that was build for one school collapsed and parents had to make more bricks and redo the structure.  The buildings should be in use soon.  In addition, Cordaid (an NGO working in the region) is building a second permanent building for the school in Baboua. 

The Village School Program of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Central African Republic continues to operate twenty (20) primary schools in villages where the government has no public school.  Despite continuing insecurity and challenges, all 20 schools are operating.  In fact, enrollment is up.  Two people told me this story: parents of students in one village with a public school have enrolled their children in the VSP school in Bardé since the church’s school has a good reputation and has been operating consistently even during the troubles of the last several years. 

Communication continues to be problematic.  The villages of some schools are in regions where there are no telephone networks.  Where networks exist, the connections are often spotty or go out for extended periods.  Baboua, the headquarters of the VSP has no internet service (or electricity without a personal generator). 

The need for education and schools is still critical in the CAR.  I hope that the newly elected president (whoever that may be) will see education and health care as priorities so that the country may finally continue its development.

Other Updates:
·      The second round of the presidential election will be Sunday, February 14.  The date was delayed in order to be sure that ballots arrive in all towns.

·      Elections for legislators were annulled since not all towns got ballots in time for the first round.  The first round for these elections will also be February 14. 

·      My stolen passport, Cameroonian residency card and driver’s license arrived at the US embassy in Bangui four months after being taken from my house in Garoua Boulai, Cameroon!  (No the computer, camera, and phone did not make the complete trip with the documents.)  I have a new passport and residency card, but the embassy will send the license to the US embassy in Yaoundé so I can get it back. 

·      I have started planning for my home assignment visits in the USA for the summer.  If you didn’t get a copy of the letter, let me know.  I will visit as many people as I can. 

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