Sunday, February 17, 2013

Why? Why? Why??

It's really hard to explain the Tanzanian education system. It's hard to describe all the of shortcomings of the system. One of many shortcomings is that obviously there are students that have some sort of learning disorder. Unlike America, these students are never diagnosed and will never receive any extra attention. Since my students are streamed this year, I have one classroom where all of the lowest performing students belong. This week the class size increased even more. There are 55 students in this classroom where only about 5-10 can perform at a level where they might consider completing high school. When there are 55 students and just me (and a total student count of about 150 now), it's nearly impossible to reach every single student who needs the help. To be honest, more than half of the students in this stream should not have entered high school. They should return to elementary school and relearn nearly every subject. It's heartbreaking. It's upsetting to see these students struggle so badly, but short of teaching them English that they should have learned 5 years ago, I do not know how to help them. There are too many of them. These students could succeed if they had perhaps a special education teacher or aide to help them through. The language gap doesn't even matter. They don't know any of this material in Swahili. I get so frustrated at my complete inability to help them. Some of it is pure laziness on their part, but a lot of their problems are a result of a poor elementary education background, lack of support in their homes, and just not having any idea on how to learn. An example of one of my student's work is below. Because as much as I type about this, a picture speaks 1,000 words (especially when they are all incorrect words).

Where do I even begin?

The translations to the English are only one page behind. The student simply needed to turn one page to correctly find the translations. I didn't have the heart to mark every single one of his Exercise one attempts wrong, too.

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