Just like last year, the students have unanimously decided to take an extra week's holiday for Eid al Fitr. They need a week to prepare, the girls told me. To do henna, to buy new clothes, to go shopping, to buy a cow to slaughter (although I think the men probably do that...)
I thought that was sort of ridiculous, but then I thought back my high school and college Christmas breaks. Did we get a week or almost a week off before Christmas day? I can't remember, but I seem to think we did. When I was at college, isolated and without a car, I used to have to do speed Christmas shopping after I got home in the few days before we would go to my Grandma's house. Gifts to be wrapped, cookies to be made, cranberry relish to be ground. Maybe I did need a week too.
Perhaps there are more similarities between me and them than sometimes I make there out to be.
This year far more than last year I have realized that the problems with attendence and being serious with their studies does not stem primarily from the students themselves, but rather from the gross disorganization and lack of professionalism of the Ministry of Education and of the college itself.
As one male student rightfully said to me last week when I was asking why they missed the first week of school, came the second, and then left again for the third: "Miss, it was not our fault the first week. The teachers weren't there." And while I didn't want to admit it, he was 100% right. The students were there the first day of class, and even the second, but after going to their rooms and seeing that 1) the rooms were not completed or ready to be used and 2) that there was often no teacher to be found, they decided to go home and spend their time enjoying Ramadan with their families.
I would have done the same were I a student.
Instead of being annoyed at the kids this year, I'm more frustrated at the system. Even when the students try to do well, they are showed an example by the school of lack of care, preparation and professional behavior.
No wonder they don't come to class.