That is a long background to say that the instant sms system is a lot less fun when the student cries. One of Jack's good friends, to whom we leant study aids, had at our house a lot over the last year, and really pulled for, scored a 27. It isn't a failure, but it is a LONG way from his dreams. He's a complete orphan, no mom, no dad (both died of AIDS), in a public crowded chaotic school (one where our kids attended briefly years ago) across the street, 15 years old, pleasant and conversant in English and an all-around nice guy. But the PLE is the final word on whether, or where, one continues in school. It is the sole number which dictates the future. And this number tells him that his future is not at Christ School, where he longed to join his biological brother as well as my kids and his other friends. My mom-heart felt heavy giving handing my phone over to this boy today. Like many, many kids in Bundibugyo, he will probably struggle on in mediocrity, in a sub-standard secondary school with poor discipline and unmotivated staff. My words that God was still good and in control of his life felt hollow as he held back his tears.
Prenatal care, stable families, good early nutrition, protein, iron . . . stimulating nursery and early elementary schools, reading material, interested adults, an organized life, protection from disease . . . there are so many steps before the PLE that stand stacked against this kid and many others, that I know we have to take a generational long-view . . but that's small consolation to today's sad student.