When I arrived at my main school, the principal pointed at a pile of dirt that sat along the open side of the courtyard. “There’s going to be a new building there with a ton of new classrooms. Construction started 4 years ago. The government has’t given us the funds to complete it.”
That principal was actually transitioning out to take over as the Secretary of Education for my town. He proudly shared that the newly-elected mayor is an alumnus of the school we were standing in. Before long, while he was sitting in his office in City Hall, construction began in earnest on that building at his former school. Within a year, the new building was complete and the Secretary of Education was stepping down to take back his job as principal at his school.
The building is big and looks snazzy from the outside. It’s painted white with red trim for some reason, not matching the gray and blue of the school colors. There are something like 20 classrooms, all clean, spacious, airy feeling. Four white walls, brand new white boards, beautiful new oak-looking desks, and tile floors with all the tiles present. It seemed like a dream.
Yet we quickly learned that while pretty, it’s also pretty terrible.
There’s not a trash can to be found, which only exacerbates the students’ already-existing habits of throwing trash on the ground or out the window.
Not all rooms have electricity wired, which means no functioning fans, let alone a plug in for a laptop. Even rooms with current flowing have fans that were mounted, but nowhere near an outlet to plug them in. It only matters a little bit regardless; the 6 wall-mounted fans don’t move enough air to cool the entire room.
Classrooms in this country are always loud, constructed with cinder blocks, plaster, tile floors, and (almost always, except for the lucky few rooms with air conditioning) holes in the walls for windows. But these big open rooms are worse – especially the ones in which I work on the second floor. While the noise of neighboring classrooms booms through the walls, the teacher’s voice drifts out of her mouth and dissipates before ever reaching students’ ears.
Not to mention that within a week of opening, strong gusts of winds bent a couple of the roofing panels.
Plus, all those beautiful desks are already marred with graffiti, as are the once-gleaming white walls.
The government here is constantly bragging about the investments it is making. Our local parks and rec department has been especially braggadocios, constantly sharing about the park updates being made and teams in which they are investing. Yet much of the park equipment was immediately vandalized, and supporting a team to attend a tournament isn’t supporting their long term longevity. Or look at the federal government, which often airs videos like the one below on TV. It focuses on the highway improvements being made. Who knows how long these improvements will hold. If the construction is done anything like what was done at our school, that is money straight down the drain.