The monastery benefits from a generator. To run it for the time it takes to photocopy and print materials for two classes of 20 students takes 2 liters of petrol costing around $1 with current exchange rates. The head monk doesn’t always appreciate the generator being run for such activities as printing. Oil is precious and his students need the power later into the evening to study for matriculation exam of grade 11.
It is fair to say that the generator can slow us down and limit productivity in ways which I had previously taken for granted. It is hard to plan for lessons which may not have access to the printer.
Tests are normally difficult. We have 30 students in total to test and so it’s difficult to re-create the same material that many times over by hand. The first day when my trainee ran in looking like he had committed a murder in a black and white silent film, it was a huge surprise to me. I later learnt that it was just copy ink from the rather unreliable photocopier that dares anyone who cares to try to use it at their peril.
There was the unenviable morning when we tried to print, failed and frantically copied out 20 pages of words which then needed cutting up individually so that our students could then put them back together to make sentences.
The printer does not need the generator to run, unlike the sullen photocopier. Instead the printer is simply plugged into a battery pack which has been charging either from solar energy or from the night time electricity. Sometimes there is no power left in this small square and as often happens, it is fast deteriorating with time and the elements which are in no way conducive to the smooth running of electronics.
We do our best; sometimes we fumble in the dark, but we must always remember to follow the light and to never be afraid. More than occasionally we have to revert to plan B, or even E, but the students are retaining information and they are more engaged than ever before.
NEH Coordinator and Teacher Trainer