They call it a "Sports Meet" but I call it complete and utter barking madness! Ever since the new school year started the kids have been practising for the "Sports Meet" - at every available opportunity. That's nearly two months of virtually zero academic work. It's craziness personified! I voiced this opinion to one of the teachers today and she said, "oh no it's not zero. We managed to do two and a half hours of lessons yesterday." Well no, actually, it's only two hours after accounting for the half hour breakfast break. And this, I am told, is happening in every school throughout Sri Lanka!
So I turn up at the school this morning only to find the girls lining up on the playground. Meanwhile the boys are lounging around or doing what boys do: certainly nothing academic. And the girls are now performing their drills: moving as directed by the teacher with the whistle. They're doing this because the sky is overcast today and it's not baking sun - an excuse they could have used for 90% of the days in the last three months! And they're doing this "because the children love it..." Well yes, of course they do, but everything in proportion, eh?
The boys are now putting the shot, or racing within inches of the girls to no discernible finish line, or doing a high jump into a sand pit, or playing netless-netball and goal-less football.
The teachers are milling around, chatting, and the only one who appears to be doing something with the kids is the one blowing the whistle. The head is busy doing papers or marking attendance sheets but stops long enough to tell me that this spectacle finishes on 21st February - three weeks' time. Meanwhile a teacher is trying to get me interested in his business plan. I attempt to have conversations with the kids but, to them, that's too much like work, so I return to my office.