The one day that stood out from the rest was when one student was having trouble copying a drawing of a few basic lines. It was an exercise that was supposed to be an easy approachable way to learn how to draw a bird. I found out from her that she doesn’t know how to write and stopped school in the 2rd grade. She’s fifteen now and has a child, and she has trouble controlling the pencil to make shapes. She has had so little time in her life to learn and gain skills. And she probably has spent the majority of her life doing cleaning, and cooking and now being a mother. It makes me think of how under stimulated she is and how little opportunity she has had. Her parents must have not seen any value in sending her to school. I wanted this to be a chance for her to learn something new as well as get used to being in a classroom. Unfortunately she dropped out of the class in the second week.
During this program the issue of girls and women participating has been big. A majority of the girls dropped out, and we struggled to find replacements to get a gender balanced class. For all our recruiting efforts, we now have 20 boys and 10 girls. Most of the girls– except a few look completely bored and disconnected during the times I’m instructing. Even in the times when they are free to draw, they usually don’t engage and get into the activity. I don’t think it’s because they don’t want to – I think it’s because they aren’t used to participating. The boys are used to filling up all the space and will speak and take on every activity and the girls are used to just observing. Making them active one of my goals – to draw them into feeling like they are part of the class as much as the boys and to get them to realize that it is their right, and in their interest, to learn too. Doui Benedict (above) is one of the girls who acts equal to the boys in terms of showing interest and participation in the class.