This is the week for observing instruction. We drove about an hour out of Kigali; not a great distance, but slow. We left the ‘main road’, asphalted, decent.  Turned onto a dirt road. Dirt roads in Africa double as river beds. Long, deep channels run down the center or the sides, parts of the road are just missing and you straddle the ditch and the ‘road’. There are children, tiny toddlers playing in the dirt close to or on the road, their sibs running beside the car.  They shout “Muzungu” (White person!) and laugh. Goats duck into the brush. We drive by 1-room  mud huts, with tiny windows. Shuttered closed. Dark.  Women with babies on their back and bundles on their head stop, move off the road and stare at us. I wave. They smile and wave back.
We drive at 1-5 mph to lesson back cracking, headbanging pot holes and ditches.  You can break a clavical on your seatbelt, bang your head on the side window, wrench your back with sudden jolts; banging and violently careening from one pot hole to the ditch to another pothole.

By the time we got there, Don and I decided to bag that school, pull the program out of there and cut our losses. It was just too far, too hard, too much to ask.

There is no electricity in Government School Kigusa. We walked into the first classroom. At the front of the room was their instructor, a small man in a white lab coat, and thick glasses. Beside him was the laptop displaying a picture they were talking about. Looking at the instructor, I saw the coat, his bright teeth and the display reflected in his glasses.  Only that. A disembodied white lab coat with glasses and a beautiful smile.  It was that dark in that classroom.

He presented the questions, they answered, paying no attention to me, just the way I like it. They talked about the display, they answered in clear English words and sentences. When they finished, I introduced myself, talked with them about English in their classrooms. They said the English instruction is helping them teach in English. They smiled and thanked me for coming.

Scores have gone up for kids. Not an easy get when you understand that their teachers either do not or are only just beginning to learn English. The only English these kids hear is in school.  But before we came to Rwanda, all students in Bugesera District (where we work) scored at the very, very bottom. Dead last.  Now, all but 2 had moved up and out of that level.   We are working in 13 of the 16 Bugesera District schools. These kids are progressing  because they can speak and understand English a little better because their teachers speak and understand English a little better.

Our participating teachers and instructors work from 7:30 to 5:00 Monday through Friday, no prep period (be serious!) teaching huge classrooms of children (50-60), then go to their Engish lesson by 5:10 to sit through an hour and a quarter, speaking a new language. Word by word, sentence by sentence, step by tiny step, we move forward. And it is working.

I could not love this work more.