The opinions expressed in this blog are mine, and mine alone. They do not represent the views of the Peace Corps or the United States Government.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Welcoming the Form Fours

In Botswana, schools are divided into three categories: primary, junior secondary and senior secondary.    Primary consists of standards 1-7 (like grades 1-7).  Junior is forms 1-3 (like grades 8-10) and senior has form 4 and 5 (like grades 11-12).  There are exit examinations at standard 7, form 3 and form 5.  The form fours just arrived at Shoshong Senior Secondary School this past week.  The senior teacher in Guidance and Counseling, Mma Jabane, invited me to come address the students on life skills and peer education.  We have been trying to work together for a year with little success because of the busy schedule of the students.  So this was a great opportunity for us to present to all of the 705 form fours.

I worked with my friend Boitumelo to plan the presentation.  We were going to do a drama involving alcohol, drug abuse and teenage pregnancy...a lot of the issues facing the students.  Then we would try to elicit feedback from them and start a discussion, albeit a bit difficult with the large group.  Boitumelo's friend Keagile was also involved.  We thought we were going to have a few more people to do the drama.  But two hours before we were supposed to be at the school, they weren't showing up.  So we had to change our game plan.

We decided that I would begin the day by talking about life skills and peer education.  I would explain that no answer is wrong and that we want to hear what they have to say.  I would introduce the concepts, giving examples of life skills, like decision-making and self-esteem.  In terms of peer education, I would stres the importance of listening in a non-judgmental way.

Then, Boitumelo and Keagile would do mini dramas or conversations between the two of them.  They would act out scenarios between friends that are common in the school--like skipping class because you didn't do your homework, stealing from fellow students, being rude to teachers, getting involved in relationships, etc.  I am happy to say that the day went really well!

Here are some photos:

Boitumelo and Keagile have just finished one of the dramas and are asking for questions/comments from the crowd

A student from the back coming onto the stage to give her opinion

Mma Jabane was also active in adding onto the discussion (pictured left)

From left to right: Boitumelo, me and Keagile...outside of Shoshong Senior Secondary School

Mma Jabane loved our presentation.  She wants us to do it for the form fives as well.  The dramas sparked some interesting discussion.  One thing that students often say is that they want to wait to start relationships until after school.  One girl got up on stage and said that she wanted to be in love, but that love doesn't mean that you have to have sex.  All of the kids were cheering.  It was a great moment, challenging notions of when one should begin to have sex and the importance of sex in a relationship.

The best part for me was that I was on the sideline for most of the time.  I am confident that Boitumelo and Keagile can go into classrooms and lead discussions with students, if I am able to give them some tools to do so before I leave Shoshong end of May.  The best part of our role as PCVs is bringing people together who otherwise wouldn't know about the opportunities to work together.  Now Mma Jabane and these ladies can meet and plan events without me.  That is really encouraging to me.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a terrific day. The students got into it with the dramas which students love and the two young women who presented, Boitumelo and Keagile Love the thought of them working with Mma Jabane. That is really encouraging. You've touched students in ways you will never know. Far reaching. I would have loved to have been there and heard all the comments and discussions. Love you, Mama