Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sudanese Refugee School

While I was working

in the Cairo American College, my son was volunteering at a Sudanese refugee school in the city. He read to students and tutored in basic math. He had one pupil who loved to add but got upset when he was asked to subtract. I suggested that maybe he had lost so much he didn’t want to see anything else taken away – but in reality he was probably just a kid who didn’t like subtraction. The last day of his stint I went by and did some poems with the kids.

Seems no matter where you go in the world, if there are kids around there are going to be stubborn teachers who think they need schooling. This school reminded me of one we visited in China, where the staff was (illegally) teaching the children of undocumented workers lured to Shanghai from the countryside by the construction boom. The school was unheated and the children were bundled in their coats, but the lessons were being taught. Eventually the authorities relented and just turned a blind eye on the operation. But it is a tribute to the dedication of these rogue teachers.

Similarly this Sudanese refugee school was not equipped with computers or reading programs costing tens of thousands of dollars. No Smart Boards or LED projectors, there was no budget for consultants to come in and assess for adequate yearly progress. This place, like the one in China, is flying just below the radar cobbled together by volunteers and donations. There is still a fair bit of prejudice against the Sudanese in Egypt. But, they are keeping their heads down, their noses clean and they are teaching there.

I was told by the woman responsible for getting my son into the school that the Sudanese have a real respect for education and that the kids are eager to learn. I’d be inclined to agree with her from what I saw there the day I visited. Here’s some pics and a short vid.

1 comment:

Kelly W. said...

These pictures are fantastic. Ben and just watched your video together. We loved it.