Sunday, January 4, 2009

developments at school and home

7 October 2008

I have plenty of news, and I think I’ll start with school, since I’ve neglected it thus far:

Our trainer from Peace Corps explained the computer education situation in Cameroon as follows: they told the government they needed computers in schools. The government did not provide computers. They waited a few years, and finally decided to have I.T. theory classes, in preparation of when computers become widely available. Most schools are still waiting. Sometimes outside organizations or benefactors provide small labs.

My school is one of the lucky ones: Lycée Classique et Moderne de Ngaoudéré received 60 computers, and all the accessories, of a modern lab.

But, the national syllabus is written for schools without labs. So the content I’m expected to cover is not applied in their lab time, and while it relates to computers, isn't what I would call the most useful information.

Now, Peace Corps offered me a position teaching computers because i know about using them. But I’m not teaching how to use them. My job is all theory, in the classroom, not the lab. I can request lab time, and if it fits the schedule, we can have a practical class. Otherwise the students get to use the lab every other week for two hours. There are lab monitors, who lead some activities; best I can tell they use a lot of Encarta encyclopedia.

So, I’m getting by, teaching the content straight from the book Peace Corps provided me with. But I’m unable to add anything from my own knowledge, since I learned everything I know about binary from said book. since I can't contribute, I feel pretty useless.

Ideally, I could switch to being a lab monitor, and I expect I would be much more effective. But, the school expected a theory teacher: I’ve already taught the first month of school. Part of having a national I.T. syllabus, is a national requirement to teach it. If I switched I would deprive my school of a teacher.

My counterpart (the Cameroonian Peace Corps first assigned me to work with) is the censeur at my school. So, he knows about the education system, but nothing of the I.T. content. When I explained my difficulty in teaching the theory content, he said that the theory leads to the practical, and I know the practical, so I can manage the theory. This is true, in theory. So, I’ll let you know what happens. Maybe I can switch jobs at the end of the year?

Moving on, to the fact that I’m moving: Stacy, the pcvl who lives at the case here in Ngaoudéré, is leaving in November. Pcvl is a third year extension position, and no one has extended from the current round of close-of-service-ers. Either Michelle or I have to move in, since it's against Peace Corps policy to pay rent on an uninhabited house. So I’ll be moving in November to a bigger house, in the more secure centre commercial, and I’ll have a water heater for showers! I expect to live there at least a year. If someone extends and takes the pcvl position next December, I would find another house. Once I decided to move, I started getting excited about the prospect of living in the house, and having people visit all the time. I won't have the other pcvl responsibilities, so I think I’m getting a pretty sweet deal.

I don't want to leave you thinking I’m not still enjoying myself. There’s still plenty of new things I’m discovering and I’m enjoying the challenge of living here.

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