10 +1=? That is a question that a 10 year old child in Plastic City cannot answer.
On Thursday, I had the privilege of going to dinner with one of the pastors from Vreed-en-hoop Wesleyan Church. He teaches at a secondary (middle) school here, and his wife is a professor in the Educational program at the University of Guyana. His wife Corrine, was telling me about the educational system in Guyana. I walked away from that dinner overwhelmed, but also more sure of what the Lord wants with my life.
In the States we have the “No Child Left Behind” program; Guyana used to have that, but in the past ten years, their educational system has changed. Now in Guyana, if you don’t pass your end-of-year test, you still pass the class! In my opinion, that is why I find a ten year old who doesn’t know what 10 + 1 equals. It breaks my heart.
Teachers here teach for the test. They write math problems on the board, (and in this particular child’s class) the teacher gives the children the answer and instructs them to copy it in their exercise book. My frustration comes as I realize that these children aren’t being given the chance to make a better life for themselves, because they aren’t getting an education where they learn and utilize critical thinking skills to help them go anywhere.
So when you go to places like PAL, and try to help these children, you have to start at the very beginning: teaching an 8 year old phonics, and a 14 year old what continent they live on. I am overwhelmed when I think about the lives these children are going to have if they don’t get a better education. The life that faces them is one where they live the same lives their parents or grandparents live, because they are stuck in that never ending cycle of poverty.
A child in the school system in Guyana really has to make an effort to stand up and say “I am not going to live this life.” They have to work twice as hard as other children to get a better education so they can get a good job. Additionally, they need someone to step in and say, "I will help you learn what '10+1' equals."; teaching, not for a test, but for the love of learning. Poverty is a never ending cycle, and can only be broken if the support system is available for the child.
~By Amber Gravley