I took a few of the kids "back to school shopping" yesterday and others again today. This is blog worthy because never before have I considered soap, petticoats and smearing oil necessary school items. But they are. We got a mattress for Abella who boards at school. You have to bring your own mattress with you and up to this point she has been sharing a bed with a skinny friend. We picked up pencils, pens and books of course but also socks, black shoe polish and underwear. Kids can be "sent" from school for almost any reason it seems. Parents can't afford shoes? Child gets sent home. No papers to write on? Sent home.
Schools here are supposed to be free. But the poor can't attend because they can't get the necessary supplies. Also there are PTA fees, which, can you have PTA fees if you don't have a PTA?! And they have to pay to take exams. Then pay again to have those exams "marked" (graded). They have to purchase a school uniform which includes shoes. Can't attend if they don't have the uniform. I just poled the kids who are here. 9 kids. Only two of them have more than one uniform. And Joyce is still wearing last year's uniform which is more than a little too short for her.
This wasn't going to turn into a tirade. The system needs some work.
But school starts next week and that can't really come soon enough. Joyce, Opio, Manuel, Kenneth, Janet, Vicky, Ivan, Betty and Abella are all set.