Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Sergio returns to school with a big hope

Sergio da Silva, 19 (grade 9) is a leader at his school, the Escola Basica Central
in the town of Laclubar, Manatuto Municipality, Timor-Leste.
©UNICEF Timor-Leste/2015/klynch
When we last met Sergio da Silva in 2012, he was 16 and just completing the sixth grade. He didn’t like being so much older than the rest of the students in his class, but he wasn’t feeling shy about it. “This happened because when I was in the first grade I got sick and had to drop out,” he explained.

“The same thing happened the following year, and again the year after that. Finally, I finished the first grade on my fourth try. I might have dropped out except my parents kept making me to go back. They said if you want to have a bright future you need an education.”

Changing life
Sergio’s school, Dirik Hun Primary School in Laclubar sub-district in Manatutu which serves students in grades 1-6, had undergone a big change, becoming a UNICEF-supported Child Friendly School (CFS) the year before. Sergio explained the changes this had brought to his classroom, “Teachers gave us very little opportunity to talk before.

They were the only ones who talked—non-stop from morning to afternoon. We couldn’t express what we understood or ask questions if we didn’t understand. They just said ‘We know and you should listen to us.’ But after their training, my teachers have gotten better at teaching us.

They’ve put us into groups and now they give us instructions and we discuss different topics with our groups and report back to the class. Before I was so bored. I didn’t like school and I didn’t learn much. Now I have to think. I have to talk and respond. I have to lead discussions and argue issues. I am learning so much more, and I like coming to school.”

Sergio left Dirik Hun Primary School after grade six to attend the Central Basic School in Laclubar, a pre-secondary school (grade 7 to 9). As UNICEF’s ‘Eskola Foun’ or Child Friendly School (CFS) approach has not yet been introduced in pre-secondary schools in Timor-Leste, it was a return to the traditional teaching methods he had been so happy to leave behind.