Firstly, many thanks to Beth, Erin and this week’s Flannel Friday host Amy for creating flannelboards for the children in Serinane, Ditshegwane and Francistown, Botswana as well as Patty for providing money for books. Amy even packaged hers in flannelboard boxes (see below) with books and storytime sparks – superb! Through your generosity, each school received multiple complete storytime kits each containing 3-4 books, 2-3 flannelboards and a storytime starter sheet.
Through Pam Shelton of the Botswana Book Project, I connected with Peace Corps volunteer Kate Slisz who welcomed my friend Helen (a former preschool and elementary teacher) and I into her home and the school in Serinane last week. Fellow Peace Corps volunteer Jessica Ruggiero from the (relatively) nearby village of Ditshegwane also joined us to receive storytime kits for the primary school there.
Serinane Primary School
Serinane is a village of about 800 people 90 kilometres north of Gaborone, Botswana. The Serinane Primary School has 271 students in Grades 1-7. The school was built in 2009 and is an impressive complex with multiple buildings, a nice recreation area, kitchen, teacher housing and class sizes in the low 20s. Pass rates are low across the country (averaging less than 35%!) and the school leadership is justifiably proud that its classes have been steadily improving in the annual tests and besting the national average pass rate. Last year over 70% of Standard 7s in Serinane passed.
Time in the Classrooms
We sat in on a reading lesson with Mma Keletso’s Standard 3 class where the children learned relevant vocabulary and read a passage about camels. English is rarely spoken at home in Serinane, but a necessity to succeed in school and the kids did a great job. After the reading lesson, we each read stories and shared flannelboards with 3 classes of Standards 1-3 (there are two classrooms for each of these grade levels). There has been a recent push in Botswana to have more interactive learning so the teachers appreciated us sharing flannelboards such as Little Mouse, Where Does It Go? and It’s a Pig! In a school system where corporal punishment is still quite common, encouraging children to guess freely is also a huge step. When we met with the teachers after, Mma Ntlhe (Standard 2) remarked on how helpful the visual aids were for reinforcing story elements and vocabulary. And rhyme always makes an impression, Kate reported that the Standard 2s were walking around the playground chanting “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” the next day. Many thanks to Head Teacher Mma Monthusi for allowing us to visit Serinane Primary School. Thank you so much, Kate, Jess and the staff at Serinane Primary School for the warm welcome!
You will be thrilled to hear that both Kate and Jess started school libraries in their respective communities. It’s really exciting to hear how the children love their school libraries (less exciting is that the Serinane one is currently in storage pending renovations – it’s the freshly painted, but bare classroom in the middle set of pictures). Kudos to Kate and Jess, you are both great doing great work during your Peace Corps tenures!
Finding Flannel Friday
This week’s Flannel Friday host is Amy at Catch the Possibilities. You can also find past and future roundups and lots more information about Flannel Friday at the Flannel Friday website. For a visual round-up of all postings, check out Flannel Friday on Pinterest.