Thursday, March 27, 2014

Glory, Glory, Moshi Rural

Hey everybody, I've not had too much time to write this week, so in lieu of a proper blog entry, I thought I'd share a recent article from the Tanzania Daily News about education initiatives right here in Moshi.

Just to be clear, the village of Msaranga where the Toa Nafasi pilot project is currently being implemented is NOT technically a part of the Moshi Rural District discussed below.  It is, in fact, considered Moshi Urban....despite the fact that goats and monkeys rival the human population there....

Anyhoo, enjoy this piece, and here's hoping for a "Sarah original" next week....!


For many years, Moshi Rural District has been well-known for its development in education.  The district, which is made up of 31 wards, is home to several universities, and the people from that area have scattered all over the country as well as abroad in their quest for further education, business, and employment.  However, these days, that fame is gradually disappearing and there is a growing concern of people wanting to find a quick solution to the recent poor performance in education and to restore Moshi's glory.

There are many factors inhibiting the achievement of good results in education such as lack of motivation in the workplace, shortage of teaching materials and learning facilities as well as poor working conditions.  Additionally, it is sad to state that the government owes Moshi Rural District teachers a staggering TSH1.9billion in arrears.  The Chairperson of the Tanzania Teachers Union (TTU) in Moshi Rural, Ms. Angela Kimath, says it will be difficult to successfully improve education in the district if the sum is not paid, but she is hopeful the matter will be settled soon.

According to the 2012 census, the population of Moshi Rural is 466,737 people.  The TTU Secretary for the district, Mr. Dawson Temu, says there are currently 2,556 teachers in primary schools and 1,125 in secondary schools while the teacher training colleges have 257 teaching staff members.

Amongst Ms. Kimath's concerns is that the pass rate for Standard VII students has dropped dramatically and this is a great challenge not only to teachers but also to parents/guardians and the government.  Data on primary education shows that in 2010, the pass rate was 61% which was improved upon the following year (75%), but fell substantially in 2012 with only 38%.  The district bounced back with a moderate pass rate the next year with 65%.

Whether these low rates are due to the large number of pupils in the classrooms remains unclear, but other challenges in schools are scarcity of teachers, especially in Science subjects as well as lack of working tools.  Still, according to Mr. Temu, primary education inspectors were generally carrying out their duties well.

Ms. Kimath is optimistic that great strides will be achieved in the near future as Moshi Rural District is fortunate to be incorporated in a program that goes by the abbreviation QUEETS, or Quality Education through Expert Teachers System.

This program is run by CWT (Chama Cha Walimu Tanzania), Moshi Rural District Council, and Helvetas, a Swiss agency that is said to be one of the most experienced and largest development organizations in Switzerland.  QUEETS was introduced on July 1, 2011, and aims to improve the teaching of Mathematics, English, Science, and Environment subjects for primary schools.  The program concentrates on three regions in the north of the country - Arusha, Manyara, and Kilimanjaro.

"Last year, 84 schools received the training and this year others will go through so that by next year, we will have accomplished the task," says Ms. Kimath.

The hope is that after the teacher training, all pupils of Moshi Rural District will be better educated.  By joining together a group of national facilitators with with international assistance, the program seeks to develop improved curricula and training aids so that the facilitators (Expert Teachers) may then train already competent teachers in selected topics.

In order to ensure the sustainability of the project, the TTU closely collaborates with the education authorities at national, regional, and district levels.  Mr. Temu says the TTU in Moshi Rural District is looking forward to a bright future in teachers' and students' performances on one side and in the government meeting its obligation in teachers' remuneration on the other side.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Hello Foto

Pole sana, dear readers, but it's been kinda a crappy week.  I don't want to bring you all down with my moody blues, so I decided this entry will be an exercise in photojournalism.  

Let's hope by next week, I'll have returned to my normal chatty self!
Kissing cousins: our little heroine, now happily residing
at the Gabriella Center in Kibosho, gets a visit from a familiar face.

Walimu wetu (Our teachers): Could the ladies of Toa Nafasi
be any hotter?  Vumi and Yacinta chillax while waiting
for a meeting at Gabriella.

"We're gonna open a book, and read every word we can see.
We're gonna give you the power to learn about everything,
'cause the power's gonna set us free.
We're gonna turn it on; we're gonna bring you the power.
It's comin' down the line, strong as it can be,
through the courtesy....of THE ELECTRIC COMPANY!"
(or in this case, of TOA NAFASI?)
Okay, I know over-sized clothes are all the rage
amongst today's youth, but seriously??
No matter, by this time next year,
they'll be up round his bellybutton!
Just to be clear, I am NOT poking fun of this young gentleman
and his healthy appetite.  He's an adorable little boy.
He just really loves lunch.
And the line forms here!
When it's hot and dusty in the classroom at the end
of a long school day, sometimes the best place thing to do
is pop a squat under the shade of a lil' old tree!!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Breakfast Club

Okay, so I am working on a big piece to share with you about the end of the Observation Period and the start of Assessment, but as usual, where do I find the time??  One week into Assessment, and out of 129 students, only 22 remain to be tested!!  Perhaps, Vumi, Yacinta, and I ought to give ourselves a congratulatory holiday for being *totes amazeballs* and getting the job done in record time?!

At any rate, that entry on the serious side of things is most definitely forthcoming, but until then, as my time with the students always leads me to uncovering funny and cute things about them, here's a funny/cute blog post: the new and improved Breakfast Club for this millennium!

So, cue up your Simple Minds cassette, fold n' roll your favorite 501s, and check out the 2014 Brat Pack!!

Our "princess," Claire, is a little girl whose favorite pastime
is coming up to the teacher's table and telling me
in a Hello Kitty voice that her classmates are misbehaving.
Well, gosh, Claire, thanks for the update!

This little boy could pass for Emilio Estevez's "athlete"
though I've no idea if he actually likes sport.
I just thought he was a healthy, well-fed specimen, so why not?!
(Remember the infamous lunch scene in the movie?)

In this production, the "criminal," Bender will be played
by the previously introduced Baraka, who is hardly as nasty
as Judd Nelson was (especially given that he's in the first grade),
but his cheekiness wins him the title.
Love this kid.

Our "brain" is more of your typical dorkus malorkus
than a straight-up dweeb, doing all the silly things
Anthony Michael Hall would do in a John Hughes' movie....
a less intrusive take on the Atomic Wedgie here....
self-inflicted, it appears....

I hesitate to give this young man the moniker of "basket case,"
even in jest, but Ally Sheedy's is the only character left,
and I suppose it's suitable only for his appearance.
He is actually quite capable (and HUGELY lovable)....
if a little open-mouthed....

Monday, March 3, 2014