BEIJING –– While millions of students all over the world return to school this month, youngsters in one part of China were expected to bring not just pencils and notebooks, but their own desks and chairs when school opened.
Been there, done that. The article is a throwback to my own Primary/Elementary School days. My desk was not that big though; it was small and low because my class did not sit on chairs.
My grandfather often used scraps from banana crates to build my desks. I had several during my Elementary School years. In the classrooms, the students would sit cross-legged and then hunch over to write on the desks. Books, pencils and other school supplies were also provided by the students themselves.
At the end of each school day, the assigned student monitors would clean the classroom and would stack the desks in a pile in one of the corners. At the end of the term the desks will be taken home, but there were some students who would take their desks home every day to avoid any sustained damage from the pile.
The desks - from their sameness - in this Samoan classroom look like they were built and provided by the school. It is however a close representation of a typical Elementary classroom in my day, and which may still exist to this day in some rural villages. School uniforms were equalizers and helped the parents save what little money they had, instead of doing any lavish shopping relative to today's sprees.