Sunday, July 11, 2010

More on Education

Yelimane Fall, painter, has a center in Pikine. He spoke about language, culture, and the spiritual lives of West Africans. Additionally, he runs a center for the arts in which his studio is located, along with spaces for several other artists of all genres, even clothing design and music. He also does NGO (non-governamental organization) work in the community. Pikine is about 30 miles from Dakar.
Fall shows us a short video of the process he uses to create his calligraphic art.
Ndeye Ngiaye Tyson and Fall showed us a center that takes in street children. They asked us not to photograph the them. The staff actively searches the streets for young children who appear to have no home or family, and brings them to the center for education, food, shelter, and structure. They also create files for each child and search for the families to reunite them if possible. Here Fall and Tyson are speaking to us about the center, about Tyson's work with the community, and about her role of wrestling promoter. That's right! The name Tyson is her professional name. We go to see a wrestling match, Senegalese-style, tonight. This is a spectacle not to be missed! Tyson is the first female wrestling promoter, which is only part of the reason she is adored by people in the communities she has adopted. When driving and walking through a local village (more to come about our life-changing experience at this village), graffiti testifies to how much people esteem her. She gives them hope for a better future.
The classroom at Village Pilote
Books in the classroom are in French. Because these children appear not to be in school, I expect that they cannot access the stories, except through the illustrations, unless the books are read aloud.
Children of the streets of Senegal, act together! (I think - Remember my French is rudimentary.)

A Visit to a private school was interesting and informative.
Elana checks out the literature and textbooks on the shelves in the presentation room. While the books are copied and spiral bound here, Stephanie Nails Kane, principal, says that they are being replaced with electronic textbooks and CD's. They do have hardbound books, but shipping costs can be quite high, so SABS is working with online resources often.
The founder and principal of the school, Stephanie Nails Kane, is from Baltimore. She began as a parent who was interested in improving the education of her own children. Encouraged by others, she organized the school, beginning with pre-school and kindergarten-aged children only. Each year a new grade level was added. In addition to classes, students have opportunities to meet with one another in peer study groups, use computers to do research and projects, and get individual help. Kane says she believes the difference between public schools run in the French tradition and her school is that SABS looks at the learning styles of individual students and addresses them. She also says that the school does not have stringent entrance requirements, so anyone may take advantage of the unique opportunities offered here.
In this private school, SABS, students get to work in smaller classes than in public school. While school was already concluded for the year, these students were on hand and agreed to speak to us about their experience in SABS. All of them are ambitious and have either already gotten scholarships to universities in the U.S. and Canada, or they are working to that end. They all plan to return to Senegal after graduating the university, in order to be a part of improving Senegalese society.
The grading scale for public schools in the French tradition is pictured above. It is common that students do not acheive higher than a B+. That is considered good.

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