Recently, I have been working on a project at work which involves pairing struggling students with teachers. It is particularly important to do this for the Form 3 students, as due to the nature of the school, once students enter form 3 they move to the Main Building, away from the Literacy Department/Coordinator/Library. Once students enter form 3 they are mixed in with the mainstream and are kind of forgotten when it comes to remedial reading.
As I was going through the list of students that I have taught of the years in forms 1 and 2, it became apparent that, especially those in the remedial classes, most of the students were no longer enrolled in secondary school. This kind of broke my heart.
About two weeks ago, a student I taught and who was an avid library book borrower, came to school dressed in her home clothes. The library sits atop the stairs, and when she came up the stairs, she called to me in the Library. I had no idea what she wanted or why she would be in home clothes. As far as I knew, she was still in school. However, she asked me if people who didn’t go to school could borrow the library books. At first I told her that they are only for students, at which point I prodded into why she wasn’t in school. She explained her situation, which nearly broke my heart. It made me so sad that a girl of 15 years old has to work on a neighboring island to support herself and her family. It also made me extremely frustrated that there are students at school who could care less about their education or their future, and here is a student who would rather be in school learning but was not able to due to financial restrictions. Whatever happened to universal access?
In the end, I let her borrow four books, with the expectation that I would never see the books again. I figured it was a small price to pay to help a young girl, one that came to the school library of her own volition. Much to my surprise she returned the following week to borrow four more books. After the long Independence holiday weekend, I returned to school to find a bag with the books she borrowed on my desk. I was sad to know that she came and I was not here so she could not borrow any more books.