who do you choose?
gifted kids?
poor families
good grades
always in school

‘good’ boys
always in school

but what about
other kids?
poor families
bad grades
never in school

‘bad’ girls
never in school

© 2015 Melinda Irvine

estancia national high school (banner)

called to the principal's office
called to the principal’s office

It is easy to choose ‘good’ kids for sponsorship. To select twenty students from poor families and invite them to the principal’s office. To tell twenty top performing students who always turn up and maintain high grades that a portion of their school fees will be paid.

But in a school like the Estancia National High School, the majority of kids have families who suffer financial difficulties.

ro and the kids
students advised of their award

Maybe, just maybe helping the ones with bad grades and poor attendance records might be more beneficial. Could it be?

Maybe the gifted students would come to school anyway; no matter what.

But what about grade 8 students like Rolyn aged 16 and her friend who is already 18 years old?

BFF attend family day so happy to have someone sign their attendance.
BFF attend family day so happy to have someone sign their attendance.

Last week I attended Family Day and accompany Rolyn to her classroom and watch her dance performance. Being Thursday, her mother was busy washing clothes for the neighbouring families and unable to attend. In fact it was only because of family day that Rolyn was allowed to go to school that day, normally she would stay and help her mother with the washing or look after her little brothers and sisters (including a younger sister with an intellectual disability).

Her grades are low. Her attendance record low. Sometimes there is no money for a tricycle to school and it is too far to walk. Sometimes the dirt roads are impassable in the wet. Sometimes she works cleaning the house of her neighbour. In the past she has missed whole years of school.

She has no role models. Neither her father (a labourer in the pier) or her mother finished elementary school. She doesn’t like school uniforms. Her older brother recently committed suicide.

But Rolyn was so happy to have me attend her classroom and meet her 42 classmates. So happy to have me sign as a guardian on behalf of her family. So proud to have me talk to her teacher and explain her family situation and absences.

Rolyn’s future appears very clear cut. She will most likely follow her mother to washing clothes and cleaning houses. She is a really, really good girl and I love her dearly.

What if Rolyn (or the hundreds and hundreds of kids like her) had a portion of their school fees paid; if someone showed an interest in their education; if someone encouraged them to attend school, could their future change?

Maybe the ‘gifted’ students would have made it anyway!

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© 2015 Melinda Irvine