Abigail Foreman

A Gap Year In: Guyana
with project trust
Aug 1999 - Aug 2000

Newsletter No 2

Annandale Secondary School

The school building is very run down. The building is concrete but very old. There is no glass in any of the windows. All the internal walls are wooden and in some classrooms there are gaping holes in them. You can see right into the class next door.
There are six outside toilets for the children to use, these are in little wooden huts and are very smelly by the end of the day as they do not flush. The children have to collect toilet paper from the headteacher if they need to go !
The main building has three floors. At the bottom there are food technology rooms, the science labs and the typing rooms. On the 1st floor there are the 2nd and 3rd form classes. The 2nd floor has the 4th and 5th form classes. There isn’t one big staff room, but lots of little ones. There are four teachers in my room on the second floor.
The classes are equipped with varying sizes of benches, desks and chairs, none of which are in very good condition. Some classes have to sit three to a desk.


The school day

The school day starts at 7.45 a.m. with assembly where the students all recite the school pledge, sing the national anthem and say the school prayer. A teacher then talks about something relevant to that day.
The children then line up to be checked by prefects as they enter the main building. Some days their hands are checked, sometimes uniforms and sometimes their hair !
The students are then registered and first lesson starts at 8.15 a.m. Break is at 9.05 until 9.35 a.m. Lunch starts at 10.35 and ends at 11.35 a.m. A bell rings at 11.10 which tells the children to leave the building.
At 11.35 each year group has an assembly. This time they practise the school pledge and are given talks by the year heads. Recently the children have been rehearsing speeches for a competition.
Lessons start again at 12.00 with registration again. Lessons change at 13.00 and school finishes at 14.00
General assemblies take place on Mondays and Fridays which means there are 3 assemblies on those days. These are taken by the head teacher with the whole school present.
I am teaching a class of 72 second form children in maths. I have 40 children in my fourth form class. I also teach science and drama. I have just been given a first form to teach drama to. Or rather, they came to me saying that I was teaching them !!!
I was asked by the headteacher to write an ICT policy for the school so that this could be taught. This has been an interesting experience as there is not even one computer in the school.


Uniforms

The uniform is green. The girls in the lower school must wear a green calf length pinafore and white shirt, while the boys wear a white shirt and green shorts.
In the upper school (Forms 4 & 5 ) the girls can wear green calf length skirts with a white blouse and the boys can wear green trousers and a white shirt. The girls must wear their hair in such a fashion that they can have at least one ribbon in it.


Discipline

One very important thing about the school is that the cane is used ( or whips as the teachers call them1) Each teacher ( except us ) has a branch from a tree that is whittled down. It is used to beat the children when they misbehave or forget their homework. Exceptionally naughty children are sent to the head who beats then harder than the teachers would. Girls are hit on the hands and boys on the bottom. On the staff notice board there is a notice on how to use ‘the rod’.