The expansion from Msaranga Primary to include Msandaka, Mnazi, and Kiboriloni Primary Schools within The Toa Nafasi Project is in full effect. I thought, having been familiarized with the sights and sounds of Msaranga (see how Teachers Rose A., Imelda, and Leah hold down the fort just below) these past three years, you might want to see how it's all going down at our satellite sites.
Msandaka is the school we went trekking through the mud to get to last week. It is the farthest interior in the village of the four schools, and also the smallest. It has a branch that supports deaf students. Like many schools in Tanzania, there is a shortage of classrooms available, so we have been teaching by the cook's station. It is actually not such a bad setup as Teachers Rose C. and Sia have created an intimate space where a few students can get small group lessons with fairly minimal distractions.
This CANNOT be said of Mnazi, which is the second smallest of our four sites, but has been overrun with teenyboppers from recently closed-down chekecheas (nursery schools) nearby. It's part of another interesting Magufuli intervention: shut down the private/individual schools and force everybody into the public school system. I get what he's trying to do - unify and strengthen the government education system - but give a little warning first! Coping with 70+ new children, who have never even held a pencil, in a regular Standard One class, three months into the school year, is no small feat!
Still, despite all the mayhem, Teachers Mshiu, Nell, and Dorcas manage to find a way to teach a small cohort of Project kids on the veranda. But you can definitely see how the learning environment is less than desirable, especially for kids who are already struggling in class, easily distracted, or clearly learning-disabled.
Directly neighboring Mnazi is Kiboriloni, the next biggest school, with probably around as many kids in Standard One as Msaranga. The headmaster is a fantastic guy who has promised us a store room to use as a classroom come June - I believe it is currently being used by teachers-in-training doing their field work from teacher colleges around the country. For the moment, KB is in the same boat as Mnazi: overrun with youngsters, not enough classrooms, and a general headache both for Toa Nafasi and the regular Standard One classes. Still, we all endeavor to do our best! Here is Hyasinta checking in with Teacher Sarah (not me!!).
Much more to come very soon, so please do stay tuned!