Last week was the trial exam for the Year 8 students’ National Exam. Every day, the students in Year 8 came to school to take a 2-hour practice exam for the final exam, which will be held in two weeks. On top of the pressure of the exam, the Year 8 students and their parents were also required to prepare food for the teachers all week. As traditional school feasts go, we were treated to fried chicken and sausage every day, stir-fried noodles, and lots of taro. Boiled eggs and buttered bread rounded out the mix and the koko samoa flowed. It was a nice change, since we are not usually served meals at school (many schools in Samoa do have this luxury!)
During our extended breakfasts and lunches, the students were left on their own, and supervised by a top student or two from the level above them. Being that we took our breakfast in the classroom holding grades two and three, I was privileged to witness these tiny children teaching each other, and what a sight it was! The Year 3 teachers’ grandchildren are both in Year 3, and so they naturally took over the class. The little boy likes to rule like his grandmother and would walk to the front of the room with a big stick, ready to hit any children who misbehaved or got an answer wrong. The granddaughter was much sweeter though and would sit at the teachers desk, calling up students to recite things on the board and encouraging them with phrases like, “Very good, Peni, keep it up!” This went on the whole time we ate and although I felt a little guilty for sitting there watching the children teach themselves, it was so adorable, and there was something remarkable about witnessing the students drive to learn from each other in the absence of a teacher. These children do not have it easy, and to see them take the initiative to continue learning was quite admirable. I like to think that in five years, this class will have great results on their Year 8 exam. And who knows, maybe I will be back to see it!