2016 – #8 On the Job at SFG

Yesterday and today (Thursday) were our first days of active tutoring at SFG. We’ve devised a system with the math teachers such that for each period 2 students will be released to work 1-on-1 with one or the other of us. Yesterday was a bit slow, but today the teachers really organized themselves. In fact we were so busy that we worked right through lunch and didn’t even realize it until we began to feel some hunger pangs about 3. A teacher brought us some yummy slices of mango and a small bit of fresh coconut, both of which really hit the spot.  Here is Alison, tutoring Ashley.   Ashley came in twice that day, which says she is motivated and felt she was learning.

2016 - #8 Alison with Ashley

(at this point last night Julia came in to see me and we spent several hours looking at my iphoto album, which has 100’s of pix of SFG and of the children here in the home. We had a great evening of nostalgia, but I had no energy left to write. So this is continued on Friday evening)

I haven’t been teaching classes. Alison and I have been working really hard with the kids in the library. Now instead of having 1 or 2 girls, we might have 3 at a time and today, after all the classes were over (4:20) I had 4 kids and Alison had 2.

2016 - # 8 Margo tutors 4

The word is going out that we are giving them good help, so all in all, I am hopeful that the math scores will improve for the 2016 KCSE.

The exam is in Oct-Nov and results are generally out in February, so that’s a long wait to see whether this is helping as much as I think it is. The 2015 school score was only slightly higher than 2014, and the math composite score actually went down. You can imagine I was disappointed, puzzled and discouraged. However, when my math teacher friend, Regina, visited me last weekend she had some interesting information. Evidently cheating on the exam is rampant. They call it “leakage.” Someone with access to the exam scanned the questions (and answers) to their phone, then sold document. It went all over the country. So naturally the scores were higher, which means the kids who didn’t have the information scored lower—because the scores are curved and the curve was higher. (am I making any sense?) It’s quite possible that our girls did pretty well in math, but couldn’t compete with those who already had the questions.

(pause to execute a mosquito)

Last week was the annual meeting of secondary principals—always held in a swanky hotel in Mombasa—at which the new education minister ranted and raved about “leakage” and swore he would prosecute principals of schools where cheating occurred. I’m under no illusions regarding 100% purity here, but this problem can be greatly reduced so that all schools can fairly compete. And if they can’t put a cork in the leak, at least I know our girls are learning the math whether or not our school scores look good.

This afternoon we had a lot of business and when I went to one of the form 3 classrooms to collect a student, the girls asked me whether I would come tomorrow (Saturday)—the whole class asked. I’m really encouraged.

We didn’t leave school until 5:30 this evening, having arrived at 10:30 this morning. By that time the sky that had been clear and blue was dark with clouds and the walk we had hoped to take was out of the question. By 6:30 the skies opened up and continued their downpour for some 3 to 4 hours. The ground was littered with the elephants and giraffes!!!! I got soaked just walking 10 feet from my door to the door of the dining hall.

The end of a very long but very satisfying day.

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