Monday, 16 March 2015

Samey Primary School

I'm sitting in front of the school playing field!

I have now been living in Bhutan for six weeks,

and I’m just about beginning to settle in. I do miss my comfortable nest back home, and all of my feathered family, but I feel very much at home here now. The local birds are friendly and welcoming, and they have done lots to help me get used to my new location.
Breakfast at Samey P.S.
Anyway, a lot has happened since I last blogged. I’d better tell you all about it!

The most important thing is that the children have started a new year at Samey Primary School. In Bhutan, the school year runs from February to December. The children have their long holiday in the winter, when it is very cold!

A normal school day in Samey starts at 7.30 in the morning . Yes, that is very early!!! Some of the children have to walk for an hour to get to school, so that means a VERY EARLY start for them! They do get to have breakfast at school though, and it is very tasty! The breakfast is usually fried rice and chickpeas. Birds aren’t normally allowed to have it, but they make a special exception for me! The food at Samey Primary School is provided by the World Food Programme (WFP). The WFP is a very special organisation that gives food, for free, in places where food might be hard to get or too expensive to buy. The children also get a free school lunch, just like children in England. The lunch is often rice and dhal, which is a lentil soup.

Sitting for breakfast.
 After breakfast is the whole-school assembly. This happens everyday at 8.45, and the children say a special prayer and sing the national anthem. I’m trying hard to learn the words, but the Dzongkha language is very hard to get my beak around! In Bhutan, the children stand up for the assembly. They are very well behaved, and stand very still when listening to the teachers. Lessons begin after assembly. Unlike most primary schools in England, the children at Samey have different teachers for each different lesson. So Mr. MacInnes might teach a class English, and after that a different teacher will teach Science to the same class. There are eight teachers at Samey, and seven lessons a day. So if you were at school here, you might have seven different teachers in the same day!

The school day usually ends at 4 o’clock, but sometimes there are sports events in the afternoon too. The children love playing football and volleyball the most! Recently we helped build new football goals for the children, using wood from the forest. It was heavy work, but the children love having proper goalposts now! You can see some of the work we did in the pictures.

Before they go home, the children do social work, where they clean the school and the grounds. Each group of children has a particular area to work in, and they swap throughout the year. Some might sweep the classrooms, while others will look after the vegetable garden and some clean the toilets. Yep, in Bhutan the children clean the toilets!

The side of a classroom. That's the map of Bhutan!
Primary school classes in Bhutan are quite different from in England. Children start school at age 5, and the first class is called Pre-Primary (PP), not Reception. Then, instead of Year 1, the next year is called Class 1. Then Class 2, and so on up to Class 6.
There can be a lot of children in classes in Bhutan. Most classes have about 40 children. But because Samey is only a very small school, there are few children in each class. In Class 5 there are only eleven children, for example.

Samey Primary doesn‘t have much money to spend. So that means there are no SMART Boards, computers or playground equipment like there are in most schools in England. There are lots of other resources you will know though, like multilink cubes, base-10, and wall displays. There is also a blackboard instead of a whiteboard. You have to use chalk to write on those instead of pen. The children bring their own writing books to school everyday. They can be heavy, but at least they can always show their Mum and Dads what they have been doing each day!

Mr. MacInnes says he finds the classes a lot quieter than the ones he’s had in England, which can make it difficult when he wants them to do group work! However, they are beginning to talk a bit more now that they feel less shy. And they love seeing me! I have really enjoyed helping Class 1 learn English. I have had to pretend to be a bit naughty so they could learn how to say “excuse me” and “I am sorry”! They are getting better everyday.

I hope you’ve learned a bit about school life in Samey. If you have any questions, please put them in the comments below or ask a grown up to help you. I hope you enjoy the pictures!
Joe :-)

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