27 Aug Back to School with Pack-n-Go Girls
It’s back to school time! At least here in the United States. But what about for our Pack-n-Go Girls in Austria, Mexico, Thailand, and Brazil? Your little girls may think everyone around the world experiences school like they do, but that is not necessarily the case. Explore the world at dinner tonight by sharing a few school facts from our Pack-n-Go Girls around the world go to school.
Our Austrian Pack-n-Go Girl, Eva, probably enjoyed a Schultüte on her first day of school. While we may all be taking pictures to mark the first day of school, students in Austria (and Germany) are finding toys, candy, school supplies, and other goodies in a large, cardboard cone. They are designed to make the first day of school, which can be quite stressful, more sweet. Who wouldn’t want one of these?
In Austria, Eva attends school from the beginning or middle of September until early to mid July. She has a spring break in February, as well as time off for the Easter and Christmas holidays. Students in Austria must complete four years of elementary school (Volksschule). After this, some students attend Gymnasium, a school to prepare for university, which finishes after 12 years. Other students attend a vocational school, berufsbildende mittlere Schule or berufsbildende höhere Schule, which can finish as early as 8 years. The grading system used in most Austrian schools is: 1 sehr gut (excellent); 2 gut (good); 3 befriedigend (satisfactory); 4 genügend (sufficient), and 5 nicht genügend means that you have failed.
Patti, our Pack-n-Go Girl from Mexico, is probably pretty bummed that she has to go to school longer than Izzy (even when Izzy is not being home schooled). The school year in Mexico runs a little longer than in the United States. It usually starts around the end of August and runs through mid-July. Students attend school Monday through Friday. Typically, children either attend class in the morning or the afternoon, but teachers often teach both sessions. Electives are often taken on Saturdays. As you can see in the picture, the students are required to wear uniforms to primaria (elementary) and secondaria (middle school). The classes are usually about 30 students.
In Mexico, grades are given on a 10-point system, but they often use decimals like 7.6. As such, they sometimes uses a 100 point system that remove the decimals. Grades represent the following: 10: Excellent (Excellent), 9: Muy Bien (Very Good), 8: Bien (Good), 7: Regular (Average), 6: Suficiente (Sufficient), and 0–5.9: Deficiente/Reprobado (Insufficient/Failed).
Nong May, our Pack-n-Go Girl from Thailand, can’t believe that Jess can go to school in a t-shirt and gym shorts. Uniforms are mandatory for students throughout the public and private school systems, including colleges and universities. The uniform for elementary and secondary girls is a knee-length dark blue or black skirt with a white blouse. They also wear white ankle socks and black school shoes.
Nong May attends two semesters of school. The first starts the beginning of May and ends in October; the second begins in November and ends in March. Students can optionally attend a Level 1 school (pre-school) from ages 3-5. Students are required to then attend a Level 2 elementary school, Prathom (ประถม), from ages 6-12. After Prathom, students must attend Matthayom (มัธยม) from ages 13-18. Thailand uses numbers to grade students with 4 being the highest and 1 being the lowest.
In rural areas, many students miss school often. They are needed to help with family and farming commitments. During rice planting and harvesting, some schools even close down. Many rural schools have limited budgets so cannot provide the same quality education as schools in the cities. Often, charitable organizations will provide general education. Then students will travel 60-80 kilometers to higher-level schools in the nearest city.
Sofia is jealous that Júlia, our newest Pack-n-Go Girl from Brazil, only has to go to school for part of the day. School days are split into three parts: morning, afternoon, and evening. Júlia attends school in the morning. Other elementary school students attend in the afternoon. The older kids attend school in the evening.
The typical school year starts in February/March and runs through November/December. Since their summer is opposite of ours, summer vacation is from mid-December through early February. Students have to wear uniforms at most schools.
Júlia is currently in Ensino Fundamental (elementary school). She started school at age 6 and will be there until she is 14. Then she will move on to Ensino Médio (high school). In Ensino Médio she can either prepare to move to university or learn a skill for a specific job. The grading system is from 0-10, where 0 is the worst and 10 is the best.
In rural areas, many children work to make money for their families instead of going to school. And schools may only be available in remote areas up to fifth year. After that, students have to move to the nearest town or city to attend school. Recently, they are using technology to provide distance learning to 700 or so video classrooms across the Amazon region.
As you get ready for back to school, don’t forget about stocking up on some new books for your little girl. Mystery of the Disappearing Dolphin is now available on Kindle, and our first book in our Brazil series launches in October. We are also working hard to get into the Accelerated Reader program. If you’d like the little girls in your life to get reading points at school, we’d love it if you would take a couple of minutes and submit one of our books for an AR quiz here.
Tschüss! Adiós! Sawatdee Kha! Tchau!