Dan and I work at the Escola Secondaria de Zobue, a primeiro ciclo (first cycle) school for about 750 children in grades 8 - 10. I teach five classes of eighth grade English (8A - 8E) in classrooms 1 - 5. Dan teaches four classes of eighth grade math (8A - 8D) and two classes of tenth grade computers. Each class has about 50 students.
There are more students in eighth grade (about 350) than in ninth (200) and in tenth (200), because many students will not successfully make the transition from elementary school to high school. About 150 will drop out after their first year in high school and choose not to continue their education. A large portion of these children leave school because they are too far behind (they don't know how to read, write, or speak Portuguese), and school has become overwhelming.
There is no second-cycle school in Zobue. If a student wishes to continue past tenth grade, they will have to leave town and stay with relatives in the city or dorm at the new boarding school in Moatize. Most students just abandon their education at that point. To leave town at the age of 16, 17, or 18 is a frightening prospect. It also means a loss of income for the family left behind.
Our school is surprisingly tiny. In fact, when Dan and I saw it for the first time, we thought we were only seeing an annex of the real Secondary School. We were used to the sprawling high school complexes in the United States. The school that we were looking at only had six classrooms, lined up in a row.
Escola Secondaria de Zobue
Every day at 12:30, the eighth graders line up in front of the school to sing the National Hymn. Then, they shuffle off to their classrooms, where they will stay for the rest of the afternoon. They sit one, two, or three to a desk. The students must arrive before the teacher, and will stand up to greet the teacher as he or she enters the room.
View of the Main Office, Computer Room, and Classrooms 4 - 6
View of Classroom 3 from the National Hymn yard
Bwino in front of Classroom 4
View of Classroom 2 through an empty windowpane
Standing at the entrance to Classroom 6
An empty classroom
The teacher's desk and blackboard
An empty classroom. Note the corrugated tin roof.
Very noisy in the rainy season.
View from the back of the classroom