In my first post about Colombian schools, I focused on how the schools themselves were organized by institutions and campuses, and with principals and coordinators. Today I’m going to focus a bit more on the actual school structure.
Every school that I have been to so far (at least nine that I can think of) has a locked door or gate protected by a portero, or doorman. The degree to which doors are locked or policed varies by institution and time of day.
Once you get through the door, you usually see either a bunch of small buildings or a couple of large buildings, surrounding a central terrace area. The majority of classrooms don’t have windows or doors to close; rather there are holes in the walls and maybe a door that stays propped open in order to allow air flow. Ceiling fans, or fans high on the walls, are key. The offices, teachers’ lounge, an auditorium-type space, and a bilinguism room (if it exists) are usually the only spaces lucky enough to have air conditioning.
At one of my schools, they have this special classroom space, which is pretty cool. There’s electricity here too, to power the ceiling fans.
One of the most popular places for students to be in between classes is at the concession stand. I actually have no clue what this is called in Spanish. Regardless, kids flock to it to buy pop and fritas (fried foods) in between classes.
Finally, the last major space is the cancha, or the court. This is where PE class is held. One of my schools (which is over 100 years old) doesn’t have a roof over their court, which sounds miserable to me. The other school (55 years old) is lucky enough to have two court spaces, both roofed. And the court they use for PE is set off from the classroom spaces a bit, so there really isn’t problematic noise from it.
So that’s what you see when you walk inside a school here. In future posts I’ll dive into the actual classroom a bit more, as well as share a little bit about school culture (both of which you’ve likely started gathering a little bit about through these two posts).