A Day in Egu: Intern Post by Peter Johnson
Mr. Ibrahim is the headmaster at Egu Primary School. Mr. Rafael, a teacher there, introduced me to Headmaster Ibrahim after enthusiastically inviting me to accompany him on his 5 mile commute by bicycle. I will never forget my experience in Egu.
There are ten teachers, including the headmaster, who oversee the education of over 700 students. Yet the teachers share a special energy, solidarity and optimism in the face of overwhelmingly challenging circumstances. The dirt floors and barefoot children were misleading, as they belied a high level of discipline, order, and enthusiasm for learning.
The headmaster and a couple of teachers sat down with me to answer my questions about how the school had been so successful at achieving the best scores in the district for the national eighth-grade exam. The teachers explained that the headmaster had been able to achieve a high level of cooperation among all participants in the school by involving all parents, teachers, and students in improvements to the school. Mr. Ibrahim did not consider himself better than the teachers and manifested that sentiment through “complete delegation,” to the teachers in the classroom. This was confirmed by other teachers outside of Mr. Ibrahim’s presence. This philosophy of involving everyone resulted in soliciting from the students the suggestion to add a kerosene light in one classroom under which they could study in the evening. Holding a parent meeting each time funds from the government arrived eliminated the suspicion of parents regarding the use of funds. And allowing teachers to share their opinions freely in staff meetings allowed for teachers to generate new ideas and to express themselves through open dialogue. The result is a feeling of unity and cooperation of schools in more developed places.
The students received my simply prepared English-classes with a shy but sincere interest to improve their English composition. Because of their shyness I was surprised that they had asked the teachers to ask me to return for another day of teaching. My day in Egu became two. What I learned in Egu will stay with me for a long time. I cannot forget the smiles on the faces of the students, the small ways the teachers demonstrated support for each other, and the unassuming, determined way that a headmaster inspired students in an understaffed school to reach for something greater.