Today, February 14th is the first day of school for most children in New Caledonia or la Rentrée. First of all let me just say that begining the school year in February is very foreign to me. It’s crazy hot and it’s February. But then after I though about it for a while I realised it kind of makes more sense. You start a new year with a little vacation, then head back to class. The beginning of the year coincides with the beginning of the school year. Also, on the other end, in December you end the school year. Also, I realise that it does have to do with the seasons. It’s nearing the end of summer and will soon be fall.
Children start school on the island at age 2 years 8 months so I have been told. This is like preschool. They can go the whole day or a half day. This is not compulsory. Children between the ages of 6-16 must attend school. They go to primaire for the first six years, completing the equivalent of grades 1-5, CP, CE1, CE2, CM1, CM2. Then children move to collège aka middle school for the next 3 years. At the end of collège they receive a diploma. Here is where things are a bit cloudy for me. I am not sure if Lycée is after these four years of part of it. But not all students are chosen to move on. All of this is so intriguing to me because of my background in teaching.**I have been informed by a gracious reader that Lycée is like high school with only two levels, grade 10, level 2 and level 1, grade 11. Students are not required to attend Lycée. Children that attend are planning on going to university or some higher level learning. Thanks A. for the help!
What I love about the schools are that they have huge open windows and really no door to the class. When I drove by the school in Pouembout, École LÉONIE Avril, I could see the kids sitting at their desks and the teacher teaching in her sundress. Parents were still mingling around outside and it was already 9 am.
In Koné there is a new school being built, École Téari. This is to house all the new children to the area. A town that is growing quickly. It will only start on February 25 th because it is not yet ready because of delays from Freda. Koné also has three other primary schools.The surrounding tribes also have schools. So many schools! As they said to one little girl in the grocery store this morning, Bonne Rentrée!