Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Malawi vs Moldova - School

This post is the first in a series we will be doing on our blog, with direct comparisons between our sites in Malawi and Moldova.


Public or Private: my school is a Community Day Secondary School, which is funded by the community as well as with student fees. Teachers are paid by the Malawi Government.

Supervisor - The school is run by the Head Teacher, with assistance by the Deputy Head Teacher.

Staff - We have 15 teachers including myself. Plus we have two priests that teach Bible Knowledge as well as a student teacher that is with us for one term. Half our staff are female, which is unusual for Malawi.

Number of students: about 290, including about 95 females

Class Size: 50-100. Officially the maximum number of students per class is 40 in Malawi, but there aren't enough schools and teachers, so the actual maximum is 100. My classes have about 90 in Form 1 and 70 in Form 3.

Number of Subjects - they are required to take six subjects (English, Chichewa, Math, Physical Science, Biology and Geography). We also offer electives (Bible Knowlege, Agriculture, Life Skills, Computer Studies and Social Studies).

School Terms - Three terms between September and July.

Proficiency Exams - The students are required to pass an exam to enter secondary school. Then they take the Junior Certificate Exam (JCE) to advance to Form 3 (equivalent to 11th grade), and the Malawi School Certificate Examination (MSCE) after secondary school to qualify for higher education as well as many jobs.

Fees - Primary School (1st -8th grade) is free, but students must pay for Secondary School (9th -12th grade). My school costs about K4000 per term, which is equivalent to about $8 US. They must also pay for the two required examinations (end of 10th grade and end of 12th grade). Students that do not pay are dismissed from school.

School Layout - Four classrooms plus a spare classroom, a library, an office, a staff room and a laboratory. Each grade has one classroom where the students have all their lessons.

School Day: 7:30am to 2:00pm with a 20 minute break in the morning and a 10 minute break in the afternoon. Students typically eat before they come to school and then again when they return home afterschool.

Transport: Most students walk to school, while a few ride bikes.

Religion: My school is on property owned by the Catholic Church so we observe Catholic Holidays, and all assemblies conclude with the Our Father prayer and making the sign of the cross. We also start staff meetings with a prayer.

Moldova (sorry, no pics for this one)

Public or Private:
Public - I teach "gimnaziu" which is middle school. It is overseen by The Ministry of Education. These days, a lot of Moldovans (especially younger Moldovans) move to other countries for work. This migration has caused dramatic decreases in school populations across the already tiny country, including in my school. 

There is the main director of the school, which is similar to a principal back in The States, and 2 adjunct directors. All of them are also teachers at the school.

We have about 25 teachers - all but 2 are women. One man teaches a computer class, the other one teaches PE. We also have a Director, 2 Adjunct Directors, Librarian, and a Secretary to the Director.

Number of Students:
I've been informed that my school used to have 800+ middle schoolers...now we have apprx 200 students, including Primary School students, which didn't used to be at my school.

Class Size:
5th grade: 28 students
6th grade: 26 students
7th grade: 18 students
8th grade: 26 students
9th grade: 25 students
If they all show up to class is another story...

Number of Subjects:
Required: Romanian, another language (either Russian or English at my school), Math, Physical Science, Biology, and Geography.
Electives: Religion, Computer Studies, Knitting, Dance, Art, Music, and Health (my class).

School Terms:
We have 2 semesters per school year -
     Semester 1 is September 1 - December 24
     Semester 2 is January 12ish - May 31.

Proficiency Exams:
They take proficiency exams, but i'm not sure what they all mean. 9th grade here is treated how we treat 12th grade in The States. Most kids don't go beyond 9th grade, so their 9th grade year is full of events surrounding graduation. They even have a yearly Middle School reunion where the current 9th graders perform songs, poems, skits, dances, etc for the staff and previous people that have graduated from that school.

High School here is more of like a trade school. Kids go there to learn a trade for their future careers. At least that's my understanding.

I don't know about fees.

School Layout:
Over half the school is closed off because there aren't enough students to fill it. The building we all teach in is 3 stories. The 1st floor is Primary School, Biology, the gym, and the cafeteria. The 2nd floor is the Director, the Adjunct Directors, 2 staff rooms, Geography, Art, and Physical Science. The 3rd floor is the library, the computer class, English, Math, Music, and Health.

The Primary School stays in their same classroom all day. The Middle School students rotate classes depending on subjects.

School Day:
08:15 - 15:00 (they use military time here). There are 10 minute breaks inbetween classes and one 15 minute break from 10:50 - 11:05, which is when the Primary School students are provided lunch in the cafeteria, but not the Middle Schoolers.

The students that live in the village where the school is walk to school. There is also a minivan that picks up students from other villages around the area.

Eastern Orthodox. On September 1st - "First Bell" - the Priest blesses the school.

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