Exams in Lesotho

Exams in Lesotho

Mark Behle – Lesotho

We are just completing a weeklong break marking the end of the 3rd quarter of school and ready to begin the final two months. At the end of each quarter we have exams for a week or so, during which time we don’t have regular classes

There is an exam period each morning and afternoon.  The Form C’s and E’s (3rd & 5th year students) have the most exams, as these exams serve as practice for their national exams that they will begin writing later this month.  Some of their subjects have two papers to write, so the teachers try to prepare exams that are similar in format and content, or use actual past papers, to help them get ready for the real thing.

For math they write two papers.  One of the papers is more of a short answer-type paper and the other has longer, more difficult problems.  I gave my Form B students only one paper and will start giving them two next year.  We have four groups of Form B.  I am teaching two of them, neither of which is the top group.  At the end of each year we take the best students and put them in one class; the other classes of that form are pretty much mixed the same.  Based on my previous classes my B’s are rather weak and we have a lot of work to do to improve.  There are 57 and 58 kids in the two Form B classes I teach.

We have only two classes of Form D and I teach both of them for math.  Each one has 74 students and they have all managed to squeeze into the room.  I have less than three feet for myself between the chalkboard and the first row of desks.   I used to prefer teaching the younger students.  But as the years have passed I find myself enjoying the older students, or at least enjoying the subject content, which is obviously more challenging and interesting.  The Form E national exams are much tougher than those for Form C, so I gave the D’s two papers for the 3rd quarter exam, similar to what they will face next year at this time. 
Your prayers for helping me to handle the large classes have supported me well.  I really don’t have any control problems in the classroom.  The main drawback is the time spent marking all those exercise books and tests.  

I wrote one of the exam papers mostly on my computer, which I am gradually learning how to use better.  There has been some frustration as I teach myself how to find all the mathematical symbols that are available and draw diagrams and graphs.  During the week off I worked on the exams for November and learned quite a few new things that I can do, so making up the exams is becoming more pleasurable.

The use of the computer has been of great benefit.  I haven’t touched my typewriter for the past few months.    My only problem has been the telephone line, which hasn’t been working for most of the past few weeks.  So while it is early October now, I don’t what the date will be when I can send this out to you.

The basketball season is over.  The boys finished 2nd at one country-wide tournament but I can’t take much credit as I was sick and wasn’t present!  During the first term, when I was in the States, they finished first in their regional group, as they had done the year before.  Back in August they played in the quarterfinals of the national tournament and lost.  That was the end of the road for this year.  The girls have improved quite a lot compared to last year.  One of my former players was coaching them this year.  They finished 3rd at the national tournament.
The Scripture Union issue hasn’t been resolved.  I have talked a couple times with the Lesotho Evangelical Church’s Executive Secretary, who has promised that his committee will examine the problem at some point.  Meanwhile, he has encouraged me to continue doing what I have been doing with our local group.  To prevent any accusations we have temporarily changed the name of our group to Friends of God.  From what I have gathered the real problem between Scripture Union and LEC is one of politics/personalities within the hierarchy of the church.  Most people are bewildered by the decision that was issued earlier in the year banning SU from LEC schools.  No explanation has ever been given.

Early in September we had a big storm, including hail.  It was the first real rain since I arrived back here in late June.  That same day in Maseru (100 miles away) the storm was even worse and the homes of 500 families or so were damaged or destroyed entirely by the high winds. The newspaper accounts of the storm used the Sesotho word for tornado (“leholiotsoana”).  It is not the first time there have been such storms in Lesotho.  The weather bureau indicated more severe storms could be expected.  They were right as we just had more heavy rain and hail which shredded a lot of leaves off the peach trees.

Thanks to all of you who regularly remember me in your prayers.  I appreciate your faithfulness greatly in holding my students, the school and me in prayer.  As discussions continue about building more dams in Lesotho’s mountains, please pray that those in power will take seriously the plight of the displaced people and work for just settlements of grievances.  Also pray for the people in Lesotho affected by recent storms and that the government, people and churches will do their part to help those in need of relief.  And keep praying for a positive resolution to the LEC-SU issue.
Yours in Christ,
Mark Behle

Mark Behle is a missionary with the Lesotho Evangelical Church.  He is a Mathematics teacher at Masitise High School, Lesotho.