Learning in difficult conditions

By Meddie Mayanja

What kind of classroom did you go to? What environment do kids in your community learn from? As you are still at it, take a look at this photo. It’s an aerial view of an elementary school in Monrovia, Liberia. I took it on one my interaction with Liberian educators and students.

In case the photo does not show it well. Three classes are using a hall less than 30 x 60 meters at the same time. They are separated by cupboards but because the partitions don’t connect to the ceiling or create a wall to wall effect, the noise level in the hall is striking. I spent at least 30 minutes within the hall, moving between classrooms and wondering how kids were able to filter their teachers’ instructions from those of the class behind the partition. Each class was learning something different and at some point requiring group response – a.k.a. chorus answers. I noticed that teachers had to strike a balance between speaking loud enough for their students to hear while not interrupting the next class. Well, despite such difficult learning conditions, students were very enthusiastic and excited to learn. They enjoyed learning and constantly asked questions. I was humbled.

In fact left wondering how different learning outcomes would have been if only the students had a better learning environment. Bravo to the teachers.