Saturday, September 6, 2014

Kids Research Competition

Merecido, Mauricio, Martinho, Samito, Nereda, Atija, Nolita, Ronilda

Opportunities in education are a very new thing in Mozambique.  Under Portuguese colonial rule (which lasted over 400 years), there was no system of education for local children and only a few lucky ones got to go to small schools run by Catholic missions.  Then there was a war for independence, which lasted about a decade, and then a civil war, which lasted 16 years.  The Civil War didn’t end until 1992, and that’s when Mozambicans really got their first chance to focus on building schools.  In order to quickly train teachers, any student who finished 10th grade could then enter a one-year teachers training program and then get a classroom of 100 elementary school students without enough desks, no pencils, and no paper. 

Victor grew up going to school under a tree, without any school materials.  The teachers would hold up large pieces of papers with the lesson and the kids would look and learn that way.  Today elementary schools in the bush are still functioning under similar circumstances and most rural areas don’t have secondary schools.  Even in the city where we live, the first grade classrooms can have over 100 kids with only one teacher and little or no materials.  The children also attend class only three hours a day and many kids don’t have anything to eat in the morning.  From my perspective it is astounding and miraculous that children learn to read and write in this environment!

When the orphanage first started, universities were beginning to open in Mozambique and Victor tried to inspire the kids to set goals for higher education.  The kids had never seen or heard of anyone going to college and didn’t even know anyone who had gone past 10th grade.  They had no desire to do something they had never seen.  It was a great disappointment that the first generation of kids in the orphanage didn’t want to advance in school.  But after a few years we had several kids graduate from teachers training colleges and one from nursing school.  Now that the younger kids have actually seen someone go to college and become a professional, the attitude has changed.  Over the last few years we have sent kids to trade school, Bible School, and several are now in university!  The environment this new generation of orphanage kids is being raised in is completely different and very exciting!

Victor’s sister, Artimisa, is responsible for overseeing anything that has to do with education in the orphanage, and she has been doing a fantastic job.  Ever since she’s been on the staff she's made a big difference in the kids’ academic progress.  She went through the same school system they are going through now and excelled academically.  She went to a local university and got a degree in social work.  She tutors and helps the kids with their homework and she mentors and challenges them to set higher goals academically. 

During the school break Artimisa organized a research competition for the kids who are in secondary school and nearby universities.  She got older students from local churches to mentor and evaluate their research and presentations.  When it was time to present their findings, the kids decorated the cafeteria, everyone got dressed up, and the speeches were taken very seriously!

Artimisa lecturing on tips for choosing a profession, emphasis on social work.

Calton lecturing on tips for choosing a profession, emphasis on social sciences.

8th-10th graders speaking on how to combat severe poverty in Mozambique.

11th grade Humanities students Cocas, Pilonte, and Virginia presented on education in Mozambique and the practice of teachers using students in the teaching-learning process.  The 11th grade science students presented on common diseases in Mozambique:  causes, symptoms, treatments, prevention; and how health centers operate in the country.

University students Leonora and Gil researched and spoke on gender roles in Mozambique.

The elementary students presented cultural singing and dancing!

Everyone who participated.

From Artimisa’s Notes:

Research and Presentation Objectives:
  • Educate each other with fact-based knowledge in order to promote health, education, and work ethic.
  • Allow the safe and individually focused environment of the orphanage to provide the kids with a chance to build confidence in public speaking.
  • Create a platform where the kids could interact with each other on important topics and inspire each other to get involved in analyzing issues that affect the country.
  • University students and graduates guide younger students in making education and career choices.
It was a very nice day.  Thank you to everyone who participated, especially Achilles Jr’s brother who helped evaluate the groups.  And all thanks to God. 

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” Proverbs 1:7

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fantastic job!!! It is so great to see the mindsets of these young people being changed and that they are striving to make things better for the next generation. It makes my heart happy to see the changes that the orphanage is making in the lives of many. I was there over 10 years ago and the orphanage holds a special place in my heart. Keep up the good work and inspire greatness in all that you touch.

Brandy Dinges