Autumn 2014 (b): Where we're at and where we're headed

November 2, 2014

Our teachers, together created a school song and put it to music with the help of newly hired math and physics teacher, Pascal. The song is in Malagasy, but here is a rough translation of what it means.

1. The Tenaquip School, our school, already well known and respected for some time

This is a school that is very unique, in bringing up the intellect and the soul

The mind to be intelligent, the body to be strong
Caring for the evolution of the spirit, so our descendants can stand upright

2. The unity of purpose and the hard work. The passing over of responsibility with love

These are the roots that will develop our students into accomplished models

3. Tenaquip, here in Ambohiborosy, our future will not be lost (trampled as mud in the rice field)

We will shine just like the stars. Blessed are we for we are given hope.

They sang it to me on my last day at the school and it was very moving – especially to see that the cooks, trade teachers, guards, garden staff and doctor had all collaborated with the teachers in it’s composition!

We began a Teacher Training Programme at our school, to improve the overall teaching ability level, as the young people seeking teaching jobs with us have had no formal teacher training. They have their high school certificate, and rely on past experience as a student to inform their teaching. As we now have capable teachers in all divisions of our school, (people who have been teaching with us for 6 years), we have invited successful candidates to spend two years learning among our teachers, sharing a noon meal with them and taking part in any formal teacher training that they are receiving. So these young people are learning inside and outside of the classroom. They are being evaluated by their peers, and given feedback. When they finish their training they will have a job at our school, or a certificate of training to apply to another school nearby.

After many weeks struggling to read stories in the Malagasy language, in which I am not entirely proficient yet, I feared never being able to get a good sense of Malagasy folklore, so that I could use it in my training with the teachers. As luck would have it, one day, on a crowded bus in the city I met a fascinating university professor who is doing her PHD in Malagasy Folklore! We became quick friends and colleagues, as Graziella also has a school that she has built and runs. She agreed to do a two day workshop, at her school in the city, with all of our teachers on role play and story-telling in the classroom!

The building of a communications tower nearby, has allowed us to get the Internet, right at our school! What excitement! Teachers are now learning how to use the internet, and plans for hosting a cyber cafe at our school are underway. This may be a way to earn some money for the school in our drive to help them become self-sufficient. Right now, in our area, people without a computer have to walk 2 hours to get a photograph, photocopy, or use the internet.
This year our school competed in the Mini Olympics held at Don Bosco in the capital city, Antananarivo. 133 schools competed, and 29 of our students got to be part of it, living for three days at Akany Famonjena, an orphanage which is a favourite place to visit. Our soccer team came home with a silver medal and one of our athletes with a gold in track and field! They were a proud bunch!

The President of our local committee gathered the villagers to terrace a portion of our land to become a basketball court. For each of six consecutive Saturdays, parents of different classes came to move earth, making a smooth basketball court for our student’s.

We were able to afford glasses for 81 members of our student and staff population through some help from the Lion’s Club Sight First Program which screened candidates and sold glasses for only $15 each.

Our plans for this year include, building a chicken coup to begin producing eggs; the building of a bio-gas digester; teacher training in English, French and Waldorf education methods, the planting of more trees, the expansion of the gardens, and help some students get some needed surgery.

Help - If anyone knows of fabric that is resistant to the sun’s rays, we have a young student who is allergic to the sun. Because his body is under consistent stress, Fabian is the size of a 2 year old child, but is really 6 yrs old and in Kindergarten. He will not survive if we can’t find a solution to this problem of sun exposure. Our doctor thought that the condition was known as “Enfant de la Lune” as children with this genetic problem can only go out at night. We have yet to properly diagnose the problem. Here is a picture of little Fabian.