School Visits in Leguruki Ward, Tanzania 2011

We awoke each morning to the sounds of children playing in the school yard at Mbaaseny Primary School. The first morning the children were very curious about the mzungu teachers at their school then got used to us being there. Each morning the primary students gathered on the school grounds to sing the East African national anthem and their school song. On our final morning they completed active morning drills while singing. One song was about all of Tanzania’s national parks. The morning’s activities were led by Mary, a class five and six teacher at the school. Mary had visited us for two evenings and provided us with Kiswahili lessons. We were also joined each evening by Mr. Laurie the school principal, Amos our cook and Ava who helped with the cooking and cleaning. We were definitely the community hub for the few nights we were there.

Our first stop was Maruanogo Secondary School which we found with the help of our guide, Baracka, who is a form four student at Shiston. Katharine and Shannon visited Wilson’s classroom and tried a jigsaw activity on relative pronouns. Aarthi, Clare and I visited a form four biology class. We also visited a form four geography class where we had a question and answer session with the students. Thankfully Aarthi was there to answer the tough biology questions while Clare and I could tackle the questions on colonialism, Canadians in Tanzania and second language learning. Some of the questions were: What was the relationship between Canada and Tanzania?, How do we compare the two countries? How do we compare the students in the two countries?, and Is Canada trying to colonize Tanzania?

We continued on to Leguruki Seconday School. Leguruki is a private boarding school that was recently accredited for “A” level classes which are form 5&6 which are needed to continue to university. We split up and visited communications, physics, geography and commerce classes. In the commerce class Shannon and I supported the teacher in a jigsaw activity on banking. Mr. Loi the principal invited us to stay for refreshments and cookies before we left for our next school. He also provided us with water for the trip.

Our final school for the day was Miririny Seconday Schools which is in quite a remote location adjacent to Arusha National Park. We arrived at the school at 2:43pm but the students were being sent home early for the day because the school did not have food to feed them lunch. Usually schools provide lunch for the students then they are dismissed at 4:30pm. Families are asked to provide beans and rice for meals. The principal would be meeting with the parents to bring more food to school. We spend the afternoon planning lessons with the teachers to include collaborative techniques and learning more about their textbooks and syllabus.

It was a varied but very successful day. I believe it was an invaluable way to follow-up the workshops and support the implementation of new teaching techniques.

Wednesday was spent at Shiston Secondary school due to the number of teachers who requested visits. We arrived in time for morning break and enjoyed chai with the teachers. The teachers along with the academic head decided which teachers we would visit and what classes we would be part of. We visited with many teachers and students during the day but the high light for me was my time spent in the form two mathematics class with a first year teacher. She had one hundred students in her class and still asked the students to work with partners to solve division questions then divided the class into groups of ten to solve a difficult equation. Give time and practice I am sure she will be incorporating more collaborative techniques.

Each day we were joined by the ward education officer, Mr. Urio, who was completely supportive of our efforts in his schools. His support was invaluable in helping us to develop our relationships with the teachers and encouraging the use of collaborative learning techniques.

We were happy with our first visit to Tanzania and feel encouraged by the response of the all of the teachers we were fortunate to meet. Discussions have already begun about where EBB goes from here and how the workshops will grow and develop for next year.

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