Working with large classes and lots of enthusiasm, a reflection by Kaitlin Rogers

Elerai

I chose to write about this photo, taken by Anne Rhett, because I think it very accurately illustrates my experience working at Elerai, a primary government school. Each day we would pull up to the school and…BAM!…kids flew from every classroom and corner of the playground to greet us with tremendous enthusiasm, broad smiles, and many, many “hellos.” For me this image really captures the intensity of the energy we faced at Elerai. Of course such excitement is wonderful, but it was also very draining. At the end of each day working at Elerai, I found myself utterly exhausted. I was also overwhelmed. The government schools are of course where the students are most deprived, so we want to focus our resources there, but figuring out the best way to do so is tricky. Leading LTP projects was very difficult because we did not speak Swahili and the students did not speak English. Furthermore, the classes were enormous (100+ kids in each classroom), and the class periods were short (just 40 minutes). The quantity of children, the short window of time, and the struggle to communicate made for a very challenging week. We quickly identified that right now in the government schools it might be best to focus more on producing great quantities of curriculum materials (posters, flashcards, pictures, etc.) and less on having the students take photographs themselves. This may seem to go against what LTP is all about but really so much of LTP is about closely studying photographs, noticing details, drawing conclusions from clues in the photographs, and writing; all of which be done without a camera.

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