What a month!

Saturday, 27 March 2010 — So a month has passed since my last blog entry, and what an eventful month it has been! Two school-related elections have been held in an equal number of weeks. First, following a week of impassioned speeches and heated debates, the students elected members of the Student Committee, comprising a representative from each of the three year groups and a President. The following week the parents spent a morning at the school to attend a large meeting with students and staff to express their concerns and opinions, discuss the academic and business performance of the school over the first year, and to elect new members of the Parents Association. It was a very positive morning, and dates were set for the remaining three meetings of the academic year.

Speaking of academic, this year a number of new classes have been introduced at La Bastilla Agricultural Technical School. Firstly, the school is fortunate enough to have a Peace Corps volunteer living in the community who is now teaching English twice a week. Secondly, a part-time teacher has been recruited to teach Topography to Third Years, making the most of the equipment generously donated to the school by La Bastilla Coffee Estates. Finally, First Years are also now receiving Business Studies classes. To complement the Business Studies course the school is planning on inviting local entrepreneurs to give presentations to the students over the year.

The entrepreneurial spirit is certainly high at the school at the moment, with students from Third Year recently forming bread-making and handicraft cooperatives. The initial funds were generated by selling excess food from the boarding school to builders who were constructing the new hotel cabin. The cooperatives are still very much in the early stages. However, the students plan to use the profits to purchase school materials and save the rest for their graduation ceremony at the end of the year.
In school businesses news, we welcomed our first litter of piglets into the world on 27th February (which just so happens to be the same day I entered the world twenty-five years ago). Since then, three pigs have given birth to thirty-seven piglets. Unfortunately, since the new arrivals are weak and vulnerable, several have died from infections or hypothermia. Even more depressing, one of the expectant female pigs died this month from a uterine haemorrhage, representing a huge loss to the school in terms of the costs of rearing the pig, and the lost income that the sale of her piglets would have generated. However, every cloud has a silver lining. Through the vet who carried out the autopsy on the pig, the school has gained a new regular client for the egg business.

Over the last month we have been working extremely hard here at La Bastilla number crunching and planning for the start of the new financial year in April. Whilst the business budgets for Year Two were prepared in January, it was decided that they should be revised since they had been prepared without the inputs and expertise of the new Production and Assistant Production Managers. Having completed the plans, we are optimistic that the profitability of the school businesses will increase significantly compared to Year One. Nonetheless, substantial efforts from both students and the project team will still be required to ensure that business targets are reached and that the positive forecasts become a reality.

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