In the last couple of days, we have been confronted with many sobering facts and figures. Some surprising, others not, but all of them have made me think a lot. So, here’s a bit about what we’ve been thinking about in the last couple of days. Make of it what you will…
- Yesterday in my Special Needs education class I shared some World Health Organization facts about visual impairment. I shared that approximately 248 million people worldwide are living with visual impairment and 90% of these people are living in developing countries. Also, according to the WHO, 80% of all visual impairments can be prevented or corrected. Yet, when I asked my students how many of them had ever seen a health care worker to have their eyes examined, out of the 250 students I see on Mondays, less that five could say that they had.
- Although I had noticed it before, in a staff of over twenty tutors (teachers) only two, myself included, are women.
- At the beginning of the term three weeks ago we were asked to submit schemes of work (like lesson plan outlines for the term) by the following week. Today it was asked of the tutors how many had completed and turned these in. Only four tutors raised their hands (Ryan and I were two of these!)
Now for the big news: Our principal shared with us that at a meeting of all 45 PTC principals yesterday some really important budget news was shared:
- The PTCs are composed of two parts: Preservice (for future teachers) and Outreach (for those already working in the field). This term only 33% of the preservice budget was fulfilled by the government, and 0% of the Outreach budget was fulfilled. The PTCs are supposed to be 100% funded by the government.
- The government has currently provided funds for only 22 days of the current term, even though the term is supposed to be 69 days.
- All of the PTCs are 100% boarding schools. So, students attend school, sleep, and eat on campus. The money given by the government to feed, house an d provide materials for is only 590 Ugandan schillings (about 25 cents) per day.
As a result of what was shared at the meetings, if the government does not respond with more funds by tomorrow (Wednesday), the PTCs nationwide will temporarily shut down until more money is acquired. This would, of course, be absolutely awful for the students, the tutors, and primary schools who really need quality teachers produced at the PTCs. And, we aren’t sure what it would mean for us either…
All of this goes to show that Peace Corps service truly is never as you expect it to be. Although we knew we would learn so much through this experience, who could have imagined all of the different aspects that being here in Uganda would have helped us to think about and consider. Life sure is complicated, isn’t it?