Earls High School visits Tanzania. February 2019.

An incy wincey spider type of day…

… out came the sun and dried up all the rain (well most of it by the time we had returned to the hotel in the evening … and in addition it was a day where we were involved in teaching the basics of the English language to our Tanzanian friends!

So the first day of teaching dawned … there were a few nerves, people feeling a little faint or a little sick at the thought, but we got them all to the school and well prepared … and we even had time to go via the passport photo shop so Miss Barnes could sort out the photos for her report to the police about her missing money.

The rain didn’t let up as we expected overnight and was still heavy as we approached the school, but reduced and by lunchtime the sun was out and we were once again poaching!

We are teaching the four form I classes over the three days … each class has over 60 students, the most we taught was a class of 67 today, with three to a double desk or just a seat for some students, because they are in classrooms that felt full with 45 students on my last visit. Each group taught two double lessons (80 minutes in length each), so that by the time we finish teaching on Thursday we will have taught each class our lesson … giving each Form I class three different lessons taught in English; shape, fractions and time.

In our de-brief after teaching we discussed how the students felt after teaching the mixed ability classes (they are set after Form I) … they had enjoyed it, they loved the smiling faces, they loved the fact that some of the students were really keen and eager to learn and got everything they talked to them about … so we discussed those quieter students, those reluctant to learn, those disengaged, those more interested in chatting to our students … and talked about how we can engage them, how we can encourage those who are working on their knee because they haven’t got a desk, spotting those who really don’t understand because their English is not good enough, and strategies to engage, encourage and support them.

After a lovely lunch, identical to yesterday but that matters not, because the fresh tomatoes in lime juice, cabbage, shredded carrots, breads etc were just what was called for after a morning that put the students through all sorts of emotions. I did have a word this morning about the students being in a country where the local people are lucky if they get one poor meal a day, and the message of our students putting too much on their plates in the first place and then not clearing their plates gives … and I am pleased to note that there was less food wasted.

After some time of social interaction with form IV after lunch, other year groups drifted in to join us so that each couple of our students was surrounded by a crowd, eager to talk to them, or touch their hair (particularly long hair, and particularly blonde hair). Sports was officially cancelled this afternoon because of the standing water and mud, but both sets of students were keen so some informal football and netball ensued … with our students acquiring themselves well. It was supposed to be an opportunity for the Tanzanian students to wear the football kits donated so we could get photos, but after the photo they were really keen and wanted play … so I couldn’t resist a short training session followed by a game that involved some of our boys, whilst some others went over to practice netball.

To say it was hot is an understatement so the referee (me) restricted the game to 20 minutes by which time the ref was overheating and all he had done was walk around and blow a whistle!

And so back to the hotel … feeling very pleased with the impact of today both academically and socially … as one Umonga teacher put it ‘I am so pleased that our students are getting the interactions and are able to work alongside others from overseas because that has to be the future of our country’ and that is so true … the youth are the Tanzanians who will change the country immeasurably if they can become more educated, more outward looking, more entrepreneurial and hopefully we will help some to develop their English and inspire some to go on to work harder and look outside their current family circumstance. Our task is also to inspire those who don’t see the point in school or whose family don’t support them, or who don’t have any family to inspire them … so that they make some progress and I fully support Rose’s drive to reduce the number of students who leave with nothing after form IV from the current position of 25% (results from 2018) and she is reporting great progress with all years on this.

The hotel pool was open for business on our return and the vast majority of students have been in and out of it … having a great time and hopefully using up some more energy so that they will flake out quickly tonight!!

Funniest moment of the day has to be Issy reporting that when she and Alice had popped to the toilet, she heard a splash and then an exclamation ‘oh no, I’ve dropped my sunglasses down the toilet’ … and obviously we are not talking Armitage Shanks finest … so she was quickly dis-abused of the notion that she grope around to find them!

Hopefully I can upload more photos to go alongside the blog tonight … huge thanks to Mr Hastings who sorted out the app that reduces the photos down in size giving me a fighting chance to post them … something I have not been able to do in previous visits.

It’s only 18.20 here but hopefully I will post today’s blog before dinner meaning I can relax a bit … good night from your latest edition of Educating Tanzania 😊

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