Autumn 2014: Where we're at and where we're going

November 1, 2014

Volunteers are currently working in Madagascar, helping by teaching English, computers, and teaching strategies to our teachers, art to our students, consulting on beginning a laying hens project, and helping with Toonie Twinning letters. Helena and Eleanor are both retired principal/teachers, and Sydney is a young woman with a keen desire to help and great artistic ability. Sydney also took a TEASl course to become more proficient in teaching English. Here they are…….we wish them all the very best in their work and hope they have some time for fun as well.

This fall sees the construction of a brand new (hopefully the last) 6 classroom school house. This brings our number of classrooms to 28, and should see us through the high school years. We are also building a bio-digester that will take animal manure and using the methane gas produced, make gas for our cooking stove. We are beginning with a small model to see how it works, and hope to be able to build a bio-digester large enough to feed our 550 students and staff.

We will be applying for authorization to run an accredited high school this year, and have 500 students presently from Junior Kindergarten up to Grade 11. We have two more years before we’ll be able to graduate our first high school students out of Grade 13! This year our grade 6 class passed their state exams with 84% of our students being successful. This, after that whole group skipped grade 5 along their way up the grades.

A couple of years ago we started accepting high school aged children who really wanted to get an education but were too old to register in our school. They have been taught at our school but have remained “Independent Students” as we did not yet have authorization, and they had much ground to catch up, having never been to school. This year, at the grade 9 exams, 18 out of the 27 passed into Gr 10. We are very proud of their progress, and will continue to teach those who want to work towards the same level exam next year.

This year we promoted Miss Dorette to become principal of our elementary school! She has been teaching with us for five years now, and has shown herself to be a very dedicated and talented teacher. As she herself, grew up in this community (which includes the surrounding 18 villages), she understands the people and their needs, and works hard to keep parents informed and seek the best opportunities for our teachers to continue to learn.

Miss Dorette recently, (Sept 6th), married Mr José our talented English teacher, and they are living together, at the school full time now. Our gardener and his family are now living at the school as well as two of our teachers from the city. We are pleased to see this little community of people dedicated to the school, living on the premises full time.

The local committee of villagers are doing all the administrative tasks of the school now, on a volunteer basis. Mr Ernest comes each day to weigh the rice as it’s measured out for the noon meal, as well as check the vegetables we are serving. Mr Ramamonjy is in charge of the pablum program in which we feed all the children under 4 yrs of age in our communities. Mme Angele is at school each day to receive the $0.50/month tuition from each student, and Mr George organizes the garden work for those parents who are unable to pay tuition. He also gathers the community whenever there is work to be done, like digging foundations, or building basketball courts, and chairs the parent meetings. Mr Henri is a great help in the garden and tree nursery and also brings us bananas for the students during the ‘hungry season’.

We remembered two wonderful donors, by naming classroom buildings after them and making commemorative plaques in their honour. The first is Ken Reed, the founder of the Tenaquip Foundation, which has paid for all of our buildings to date. The second, a great friend and supporter, Alison Soulsby. Their generous souls live on in the work and spirit of our school.