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.