This will probably be the last post about the beginning of school, but it is a very fun one to write. If you recall from previous posts, we have 7 children who did not start school on the same day as everyone else. These are 7 of our children who are a little farther behind, and because of that, they attend a remedial school that can handle children who are older than they should be for the grade they are in. In reality, most children in the whole country are too old to be in the grade they are in. Even one of the smartest people we have worked with here as a translator just graduated from high school at the age of 25 and one of our most effective house moms will be graduating at the end of this year in her 30s. This is just a way of life. But for these 7 kids, their age did not allow them to get into the schools where our other children attend.
First of all, for the hard part of this blog. Can you imagine how these kids feel when they see other people their age leaving school or progressing and learning faster than them. Of our 7 kids, this is how their ages/grades break down:
- 18 in 4th grade
- 17 in 5th grade
- 17 in 4th grade
- 14 in 2nd grade
- 13 in 5th grade (he is almost able to go to a different school)
- 13 in 4th grade
- 13 in 4th grade
Most of these kids do not have a realistic chance to finish school and will have to try their best to either go to a vocational school or find a job with an organization similar to ours (we also know that some of these children will work for us in the future). In Haiti, education does not give you a lot of hope, but it does give you some. Many companies and organizations specifically look for people who have finished “classical studies” (high school) and this does give you a better shot at finding a job in Port or with a missions organization. This is what they can hope for in terms of what their jobs/careers will be in the future. This is not their hope for the future, that is found only in Christ. This is, however, their hope for their career.
On top of that, the schools here in Haiti definitely do not cater to people who are behind. In fact, Christianville School can and will not let the child come back to school the following year if they do not pass their grade. Other schools in the area have laughed at me when I told them that I wanted one of our older children to attend their school. All of the schools with better reputations seem to gain this reputation, at least in part, by not permitting older children who are behind to attend their school. This has made it extremely difficult to find a good school to send our children. In fact, the previous 2 years, we have sent many of our older children to an afternoon remedial school that we knew was subpar. We supplemented that by hiring a tutor for them for 3 hours every day, but it was not the same as attending a school where we felt comfortable. Our options have just been so limited, and our kids knew they were going to that school. They knew that they were only going to school for 3 hours per day, that all of the kids who attended school with them were far behind, and that they were different from everyone else because of this.
Now, for the fun part of the blog. The kids absolutely love their new school. Sure, school has not officially started for them yet (click here to read that story) and they are still going to a different school than the other children, but if you could have just seen their face on Monday when their lessons were finished. When I saw Apolon with that big smile on his face and when the rest of the kids got into the truck and proceeded to describe every second of their first day of school, I knew that this year was going to be different. There is still a long way to go, and a lot of things that can and will happen. But there is one thing that I know after that first day of school…Our older kids are happy with their school for the first time. They look forward to it, and they want to be there. In 3 years, this is the first time we have seen this. On top of that, the school has already started working with us to help make our kids successful. Our 14 year old in the 2nd grade has a teacher that devotes almost the whole day just to helping him learn. The school has created classes so that our older kids will not be so much bigger than the rest of the kids in their classroom. They have treated our kids well and I can tell that they truly care about them.
I am excited about this year for all of our kids. It is an important year to see if our kids can pass with all of the new advantages that they have. It is a fun year because every day when they get home from school they will be greeted with a hug, a snack, and someone who can truly help them with their homework and lessons. But it is an exciting year because, for the first time since we have been coming, we are actually excited about the schools that each of our kids will attend. We will keep you updated, and please continue to pray for this very important aspect of our children’s lives.