Septu and students at St. Charles Lwanga.
St.Charles Lwanga Primary school is a Catholic agency school. The school is made up of 810 students with 35 teachers, all from different religious denominations. Sr. Piala Massawe, a Tanzanian, from the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa, is the headmistress of the school.
The school provides basic educational rights for all children in and around the location. Without this school, the majority of the students would be travelling long distances to other schools. However, some of the students still walk more than one hour to reach the school. The number of students enrolled increases rapidly every year.
Blaise and students - out of class time!
The school experienced two major problems earlier this year: overcrowding of classes and shortage of teachers. Additional buildings recently constructed are now in use by the students. This solves the issue of overcrowding but not the issue of teacher shortage. More than half of the teachers are not getting their salaries which causes the teachers to stay away from the school and find other ways to support their family needs.
After conducting school assembly on Fridays, we go into some of the classes which have no teacher and we teach. We take the responsibility of being with the class until the end of the day’s school programme.
Beating students is the usual way of disciplining students for misbehaviour or coming late for school. We have not followed this practice and we approach students in a gentle, polite and compassionate manner.
Personal reflection by Blaise
Cycling to school takes an hour and ten minutes. Before reaching the school I meet some students having their breakfast at the small street markets beside the road. Inside the classroom some students were not concentrating and participating in the classroom activities. From what I have experienced, a teacher has to use a stick to warn each child to concentrate and to participate. I am challenged by these behaviors and attitudes.
Before taking too much time to find out what is the cause, I really sympathize with these children and started working with them. I love them despite their individual differences and difficulties. I teach them individually according to the best of their abilities. After some weeks of using this approach, I noticed a great improvement. Those who hardly smiled now smile. Those who could not socialize openly, now mix around with others. Those who struggled with concentration and participation in class and school activities, now show attention and involvement in all class activities.
At ten o’clock break some children would come to me individually and say, “Brother Blaise, give me money or food, I am hungry.” Whether this is a true need or whether it is just because they see Christian Brothers as people who have money, it is a challenge to evaluate and reflect on. The questions are: is it a common practice to beg for food or money? What is it like in their homes? How many of them have parents, guardians or families? And how many of them starve for food and good living conditions?
Live Jesus in our hearts… forever.