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Watering the Grass

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The grass is always greener on the other side.

Obviously that isn’t true, but that popular expression highlights our tendency to assume things other people have are better than the things we have ourselves.

I know I often do that but I also know it is worth making an effort to appreciate the good things we have and the breaks we’ve received in the past.

With that in mind I’d like to talk a bit about education.

Back when both our daughters were students at John Mackenzie School in Francistown, my wife and I decided we would move to England when it was time for the girls to do their A-levels and attend university.

The thinking was that the standards and organisational levels would be higher.

Our oldest daughter finished form 4 at JMS in December of 2009 and started her A-levels at a sixth form college in England in January of 2010, but since the school year begins in September over here she missed an entire term.

Surprisingly, though, that didn’t seem to create a huge problem.

This was not an isolated incident. The same situation held for two brothers who moved to the same college from Botswana during the next two years.

Evidently superior classroom discipline in Botswana allows more material to be covered so private schools in Botswana tend to be four or five months ahead of English schools.

I could have looked at this and thought, oh crap, things aren’t as good over here as I had hoped, but instead I just felt grateful our girls received their early education in a friendly and disciplined environment.

I must add that discipline and teaching standards are much higher at the sixth form here than they are at secondary schools, and the college has always appeared to be extremely well organised.

Something happened the other day, however, that got me wondering about that as well.

It’s probably just a one-off but I’m going to share it with you because it made me laugh and it shows things don’t always run smoothly in the so called developed world.

A ballot paper arrived in the post so I could vote for one of two candidates to fill the vacant parent slot on the college board of governors.

I don’t know either candidate personally but under each name were about 100 words which were intended to explain why each felt he or she was qualified for the post.

Fortunately, the messages were quite different so I didn’t have a great deal of trouble making my decision.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the line the blurbs got mixed up and they did not correspond to the names that appeared just above, so two days later I received an urgent email asking me to disregard the form.

The amended ballot duly arrived and I voted for the candidate who actually wrote the blurb I liked.

It all worked out in the end, but I wouldn’t have expected a top quality English college to get something so simple, and important, so totally wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of positive things about schools over here, but there are also a lot of pluses in Botswana.

I guess what I’m saying is the grass can be just as green in both locations, but we have to water it by appreciating what we’ve got.