Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Requesting assistance!

Here is a copy of an e-mail that I've just sent to a handful of people.  I'll try to write a real blogpost soon (something entertaining and fun to read) but this morning I'm all business.

Good morning!
I’m not one to typically send mass e-mails to a broad group of people, but today I’m making an exception.  I just had a wonderful conversation/ mini brainstorm session with my headmaster, and it’s led me here, e-mailing you for advice and suggestions.  As most of you know, I’m teaching at a small secondary school in Rwanda.  Our secondary school is part of a slightly larger “9 year basic education” school (primary school + lower secondary).  We operate as a day school: using limited resources, dealing with a less than efficient national school system and trying to appropriately allocate what little government funds we receive.  I have colleagues who are doing this all over Rwanda, so we often compare our schools (the good, the bad, the entertaining and the frustrating aspects of teaching in Rwanda).  Everyone seems to have a slightly different set-up, but there are general trends across the board.  I won’t get too much into the intricacies of the Rwandan school system at this time, but I do want to share with you an observation I’ve been able to make.  
I have a GREAT headmaster.  Really. I don’t think I could’ve asked for anyone better.  This man is a critical thinker, is invested in his students, sees things realistically, is honest and truthful and has some great aspirations for his school.  I will stand behind him and give him full support on any project he wishes to undertake (I’m sorry to say that most of my fellow PCVs have not been so lucky with their headmasters... but that’s another story).  Today, he came to me and we had a nice conversation about his plan to use technology in the classrooms.  When I told him that I may be able to find a grant/ money for the school to use, he told me that that’s not the first step.  The first step is to see what’s possible, to try and find ways to make his plan work, THEN find the money.  What a refreshing thing to hear out here in the village where I sometimes think that people see me as a walking dollar sign.  But, I have no experience with this sort of thing (grants, donations, project planning) and therefore don’t really know where to start.
My headmaster, Florian, wants to start using projectors in the secondary classes.  Currently we run on a total chalk and talk system.  This system is inefficient and is likely not very conducive to learning.  Florian had this to say:  
“We see now how students write in their notebooks. When teacher writes on a boards, the student is going to rewrite in their notebook. Many times there are mistakes [both by the teacher AND the students].  The writing is often not clear, so they will not be able to read what they write. If you try to see them in their self study, it is difficult to see what they've written. This makes exams difficult for students. So, I imagine that if teachers use the projectors, and if students have [a copy of] their syllabus, maybe they can reduce their mistakes.”
He also hopes to use the new computers at school (we just received 5 new Dells from the Ministry of Education) in a way that allows students to access materials relevant to their courses (syllabi, encyclopedia software, etc).  
His plan was to begin working on this project at the beginning of 2011, because he was expecting to receive 6 million Rwandan Francs from the Ministry of Education.  Instead, the school received only 1.5 million for the year.  So, his aspirations have been put on the back burner, but I’d like to find a way to help him.
My questions for you: 
  1. Do you have any information on where to find donated materials (screens, projectors, computer programs)? 
  2. Do you know about grants that may be available for a project like this?
  3. Do you have any contacts that you think would be able to guide me in the right direction?
  4. Would you like to help us?
Please let me know if you’re interested in assisting us.  This is a great school community that I’ve truly grown to love and I want to try to help them in any capacity possible.  If you’re interested in helping but know nothing about the above questions (technology, grants, contacts) tell me what you DO know.  We welcome any and all assistance: from moral support to monetary donations.  
I hope this email finds you all well.  Thanks for reading and enjoy your Tuesday!
Take care,
mob: 078 284 6648

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