Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Today I set out to distribute some consent forms and talk some parents into sending their sixth grade children to 3 weeks of Summer School, 3 days a week. The deal is that under-prepared children have flooded Dominica's Secondary Schools since the imposition of universal secondary education. This has resulted in a frustrated student body, increased violence, and the decay of the overall academic culture of the nation's secondary level institutions. The first child's grandmother told me that the family works during the vacation, and that her grandson is unlikely to learn anything at the summer school.

I was upset by this. My reaction was a compilation of frustration with her stubbornness, despair that she was probably right (the child is twelve years old and cannot read or write), and some personal embarrassment emanating from her lack of trust in my ability to assist the child, compounded by my own doubts in the same. The next parent I talked to was enthusiastic and appreciative. Her son is somewhat better off as far as academic achievement goes. I was still feeling a bit down despite the positive response from this parent.

I dropped in on a family that lives just down the road from the Village Council's Office. The mother of the family was washing dishes and clothes with the help of her daughter and a girl who has been staying with her, a niece or maybe just her daughter's friend. Her eldest son and his friend were sitting in the living room playing their respective guitars. Her two younger sons were outside on the road, investigating crabs they had just caught.

The guitar playing son has recently moved out of the home, renting a small house for him and his guitar partner. I purchased a set of strings for the kid after I found him in his unfurnished 'apartment,' laying on the floor strumming a guitar with four strings. I've seen him carrying the guitar around since then. The scene of him and his buddy strumming out church songs together cheered me up. When I saw two certificates were on the wall that the mother had received from some adult education programs I had organized, I had the inspiration I needed go track down the rest of the parents for the Summer School.

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