At our workshop at Abba Hailemariam School on Tuesday, I was surprised to find a high school. The very large area of Geter Adwa – the rural area on all sides of Adwa town which is a separate woreda or administrative area – has had no high school of its own. Students have to travel up to 30 kilometres to attend high school in Adwa town – a long distance on rocky paths with no buses. At Abba Hailemariam School, a grade 1 to 4 school, a high school has been built. This year it is just Grade 9, next year it will add Grade 10. So high school is accessible for about 250 students a year living in the surrounding area.
I took the opportunity to observe a couple of classes. There is no plasma television so the teachers have to work for the whole period, and work they do! I observed two classes, Physics and Mathematics. The teachers, who know their subjects well, lectured for the whole period, with little thought that the students might benefit from doing some work themselves.
Both teachers worked out several exercises for the students’ benefit, but didn’t give them time to do anything on their own, and neither teacher assigned any homework. They were pretty receptive to my feedback though, although they still repeated the old line that there’s not enough time for the students to do more. I was impressed that all the high school teachers, who naturally had not been aware of our workshop, welcomed the invitation to join in.
I’ve been observing a lot of higher grade lessons lately. While the lack of student involvement is obvious, the high quality of most teachers’ lectures is also obvious. It does make me think back to my own education in high school and university, and really how similar the lecture format is. We certainly don’t have all the answers to education in the West either.
High school teachers have Bachelors degrees, while Grade 5 to 8 teachers generally have Grade 10 plus three years Diploma, and Grade 1 to 4 teachers have Grade 10 plus one year Certificate. I don’t know if this creates a bit of an intimidation factor, but it was apparent that something was going on with the high school teachers in our workshop. They were the only ones to offer ideas to the whole group. The normally keen grade 5 to 8 teachers wouldn’t say a word.Phone Update
My phone is still stolen. But at least I was able, with remarkable efficiency, to get a new one with the same phone number. The bad news is that although I didn’t feel terribly upset at the time, it has made me a bit more wary. When a little boy touched my shoulder to offer to carry my bag home from the market today, I responded with a lot more paranoia than I would have liked.