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Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Fulani school registration
Submitted by Michaela Sholes
Time is a funny thing out here... I find that no matter how long I live here, this particular concept is one that I must constantly remind myself of (especially when I am tempted to get panicky over it). Those who haven't been here might think it funny that each appointment made must have the specification as to whether it will be "Ghana time" or "clock time", but in fact it is essential to distinguish in order to avoid losing half your day and potentially much of your sanity.
Audrey and I met at the Fulani camp early in the morning to accompany some of the parents to Iliasu's school in order to help them register 4 additional children for the upcoming school term. We arrived a little early to pick them up as we had set up a 7:30am appointment with the school, only to discover that everyone was still off bathing and getting ready. Finally setting off around 9:30 with the parents and children in tow, we arrived at the school with our prepared apologies...only to find that the administration weren't bothered about it in the least (apparently the only ones not working on Ghana time are Audrey and I!).
The meeting with the headmistress didn't go quite as we had planned, although that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. She and the administration coordinator (Madame Felicia) explained that registration typically occurs at the beginning of a term or at a time when the child is ready to go right into classes. Since their school is currently writing their end of term exams, she advised that we return at the start of the next term (May 2) to officially register the kids. That is really just a formality though, as they have already taken down the information from each of the children and have verbally accepted them into the school. Understandably, the headmistress expressed some concerns regarding the likelihood of the children's future attendance, referring to the children from the camp who had been registered before and stopped coming to school. Audrey explained to her the challenges identified by the Fulanis concerning transportation and the costs of uniforms and assured her that the parents have addressed each challenge and are working towards sustainable solutions.
The headmistress and her administration were very encouraging as they spoke with the parents about ways to plan for the next term and took the time to lay out what needed to be done between now and May 2. It has actually worked out well for there to be a few weeks before the new term as it gives the parents additional time to save up for uniforms, book fees, and other school related costs. We will continue to work with the families to address challenges as they occur and encourage them to explore feasible options.