Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Yesterday we had a speaker come in to talk about the education under the new South Africa. It was really interesting, it seems like the South Africa education system has a lot of the same problems as the US, especially in Portland. Since the end of apartheid they've been using an outcomes based education system, about 90% of the country's education budget goes towards salaries (which creates some anger towards the trade unions within the schools), there's huge class sizes, teachers need more training, etc. Now keep in mind that it seems like everyone who presents facts infuses them with incredible opinion,so it's hard to tell how much of what the guy told us is true,and how much of it is his opinion. He's part of a group of educators around the country who are working to pressure the new government in to reforming the education system. We asked him if there were students involved with this, and he said "oh,they're too apathetic,they don't care", which I thought was a really interesting comment. We're going to a local high school tomorrow so I'm hoping to ask the students there what they think and to see what the level of student activism is within students.

Things have gotten better with the other students on my program, I'm started to just let comments slide (although I record them to think about later). Now the whole structure of the program is starting to get to me...we are given limited freedom,which I understand, but when we are given freedom (for example,we're going in to the high schools tomorrow in small groups) our program director treats us like 2nd graders. He basically tells us exactly what we should do and makes us come up with answers to fake scenarios as opposed to just letting us figure it out when it arises. I can't understand people who travel who don't expect the unexpected to happen.I know I should be more understanding,but it's hard.

Anyway,today we saw a movie on the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, it was incredibly moving. It was made in the US,for US audiences,which made it a bit sensationalized,but it was still interesting. One thing I found out that I didn't know before was that 80% of those that applied for amnesty were black...interesting.

On Friday we're going to Simons Town on the coast for a little vacation,so I'm excited. It'll be kind of nice to get away from the monotony of classes...

I'm not doing a very good job of giving everyone an idea of what life's like here,but I've finally got some pictures up...if they finish loading...

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