Schools in Burkina Faso and the United States

Mr. Acton, who teaches science in Blair, was a teacher in a small town in Burkina Faso.

By Zelika Compaore

The school system in the United States is very different from the one in my country, Burkina Faso.

One difference is where students go to school. In Burkina Faso, pupils don't attend school according to where they live. As long as they have money, they choose the school that they want to attend. Students don't have a chance to go to free schools because there are none in Burkina. Parents have to pay for their child's education from kindergarten to college.

On the first day of school, pupils are placed in one classroom for the whole school year. They don't move from one room to another. Students don't have individual schedules and there is no counselor to set or discuss them. All students in high school have the same schedule. The schedule is given on the first day of classes and students have to take the same courses until the end of the school year. In high school, they have different teachers for each subject but they will have to see them for all the school year.

Because there is no free lunch in Burkina, school starts from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. From 12: 00 p.m. to 12: 30 p.m., students are released to go home and eat lunch, rest and be with their families. Then at 3:00 p.m., they have to back to school until 5:00 p.m.

Students have evaluations every three months. The evaluation will tell whether or not the student has to repeat the class. If so, the student will have to repeat the same classes over again the next school year.

In twelfth grade, it's a little more difficult because students have more courses. At the end of the school year, in July, 12th graders have to take a national test that covers all the subjects that they took since 9th grade. They would not graduate until they pass the test. They would have to repeat 12th grade as many times until they pass the national test called "Baccalaureat."

The high school diploma is delivered about two years after the students have passed the final test, in their sophomore year in college.

Mr. Acton is a teacher in the Magnet program and he had an experience in Burkina as a teacher when he volunteered for the Peace Corps. He graduated from Blair High School and then went to college. After college he joined the Peace Corps.

His school was in a village and was very different from my school in the city. He really enjoyed teaching in Burkina except that in his school there was a lack of textbooks. The students didn't have the chance to borrow books from the school. They had to buy all their own classroom materials.

Mr. Acton found students in Burkina very respectful. "They would never talk back to their teacher and they were so great," he said. Mr. Acton thinks that the exam system in Burkina is stressful for students because they would not pass a class until they pass the exam. "That's really incredible, another world!" he said.

Copyright Silver International Newspaper 2002 (This page was created by Manwen Ye.)