Tuesday, August 28, 2007

School system

Janelle recently shared some interesting insights into the African school system. Her experience in particular is with Zimbabwe. The system is based on the British system they inherited from colonial days. With school fees difficult to afford, it's exciting to see some of our orphans excel despite the circumstances facing them and their country. This is a photo of some of our Zambian orphans.

GRADES 1-7 (called “junior school”) At the end of grade 7, the children will write a battery of exams and these will determine into which “stream” they will be placed when they enter high school (called senior school in Zimbabwe). The children are “streamed” according to their abilities to perform.

FORM 1-4 Form 1 is the first year of senior school. At the end of Form 2, they will again write a battery of exams, but these again will only determine which stream they remain in. They do not eliminate the children from school if they don’t pass. At the end of Form 4, they write the very important “O Level” exams (O for “Ordinary” level). These exams will last over a period of several weeks and the children will write several extensive exams in every subject they have studied. These “O Level Exams” determine whether they are allowed to continue in school. To get a “pass” at “O Level”, the student must pass at least 5 “O Level” subjects. But just getting a pass in 5 of your O Levels doesn’t ensure that you get to continue on in school.

Only those students that get very good passes in a number of subjects are granted a place in a school to do “A Level” studies. For the vast majority of students, this is the end of normal (or ordinary) high school. Only a few are permitted to go on to do “A Levels”.

“A Levels” When a child is “allowed” to do A Levels, they will normally choose only 3 subjects, and they will do extensive studies in these subjects for two years. At the end of those 2 years, they will write a battery of exams over those 3 subjects. Only those students who do exceptionally well in the “A Level” exams will be permitted and given a place in a university.

University There are only about 3 universities in the country and there is great competition for those places. At university, the government pays for fees and boarding. We help our children with transportation to and from classes, and the university. We also supply incidental things they need. There are no “part time” jobs available for the children, and no way to make money. So we help them where they need it, financially, as well as standing by them emotionally and spiritually as they move up and out of their homes.

Children have done very well if they pass “O Levels” well, they have done very very well if they pass “A Levels”, and they have been exceptional if they are accepted into a university.

We rejoice that we have had one of our orphan children who has completed university. We have now had 4 of the children pass their “A Levels” well enough to be accepted to university. And we have also had a number pass very well in their “O Levels”. We are very proud of each one of them. They have done so well considering their difficult home situations!! We praise God for each one of them.

Coming soon, update on the recent trip to Zambia, and how to win a Taste of Africa (hint, everyone signed up for my newsletter or blog feed will be automatically entered in the drawing. Sign up for both and your name will be entered twice!)



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