It's the last lesson for this class before exams. The results of the mock test they wrote last week are not very encouraging, so the teacher decides to review the questions with the class again.
I watch as the teacher works through the question paper on his laptop. As he writes on the screen with a laptop pen, it's boldly projected onto the white board - in his handwriting. My, my. The wonders of technology!
The students still don't get the hang of equations and algebra. The teacher can't understand why or how; he's spent the better part of the last few months trying to hammer it into their heads. Short of actually opening their brains and stuffing them with books, there's nothing else he can do to help them.
After class, I chat with the teacher about the dismal performance of the students. I ask if there are Open Days when parents can come in and see what their kids are doing. He says yes, but the trend is that it's parents of well-behaved kids who usually show up. Those the teachers actually want to see - parents of not-so-well-behaved kids - do not show up. These are kids whose parents are typically lower class, live on benefits, use dope and are addicted to alcohol. They're so ignorant they don't know enough to encourage their children to study. Those who do encourage their kids don't make much of an impact because children are more influenced by what they see than what they hear. The result is a vicious cycle, the very cycle that government is trying hard to break by keeping the children in school by all means possible.
I think it's odd though; at home I know loads of poor illiterate parents who would sell everything just to make sure their children don't end up like them. It seems to be the case that education in most parts of the world is most valued by those who do not have it. Benefits or no, illiteracy/ignorance robs people of their independence and compels them to live from hand to mouth. This may sound morbid, but I'm beginning to think that lack of access to government benefits does have its advantages. We in Africa know we don't have too many options, so we strive to make the most out of life for ourselves. Much of the time we succeed. Now that's not such a bad thing, is it?