By the time you read this article, the school year will almost be over in Benin. And by then we will also know if there actually was a school year!
At the end of Christmas break, Benin’s public-school teachers went on strike because the government owes them money. At the beginning of the strike, there was school on Mondays and Fridays. Now they are down to school on Mondays only. The usual week of exams at the end of the first semester didn’t happen, and the children didn’t receive any grades.
We have had strikes before, but usually not for this long and not this far into the school year. If the unions and the government don’t reach an agreement soon, the school year will be canceled. This would mean no more school until September when the next school year starts, and all the students would retake the same classes. Only the kids who are privileged to attend a private school will be able to pass to the next level.
I don’t need to tell you that idleness is not a good teacher. We try to keep the kids in our neighborhood busy with useful things, but we cannot make up for what is missing.
Please pray for our children and youth. It is not easy to grow up in a country where good education is only the privilege of the rich. Even when there is no strike they have to deal with overcrowded classrooms, extra classes on Sabbaths and an atheistic school program. We hope and pray that our teaching in Sabbath School and Pathfinders will help them build strong relationships with Christ and a solid knowledge of God’s word so they know what’s right and what’s wrong, inside or outside of the classroom.