In our village in Rakhine state, we have electricity for 3 hours a day. When I first visited, the power was on from 6 pm - 9 pm. It is now active from 7 pm to 10 pm.
Generally speaking, this has a huge impact on the way we are able to plan and run our lessons. Fortunately the supply is pretty reliable and there have only been 3 nights in total that there has been no electric at all.
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.
My trainee normally plans lessons in the night. He charges his computer during the ration of electric and then as his family drifts to sleep, he carries a candle upstairs into his room and types away until the candle ceases to burn and he falls asleep. In the morning I check his efforts. I have to be quick at this because there is normally only about 20 minutes of power left on the device.
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.
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 Director of Studies and Teacher Trainer
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