Monday January 18: First of all a few words about discipline. Teachers are equipped with long sticks which are used to point at the blackboard and to keep order in the classroom. Today was the first time we saw corporal punishment administered, for seemingly minor offences. In Tanzania corporal punishment is considered normal, both at school and at home. By chance met the head of Save the Children in Tanzania. She gave us many alarming statistics about the high incidence of sexual abuse of young girls and boys. For more information please visit: http://resourcecentre.savethechildren.se/countries/tanzania.
Ann was given a class to teach where she gave a football sticker to each child who successfully completed an exercise about sport. The level of excitement was almost impossible to contain and back up support from a local teacher was needed. It makes us realize the challenges of controlling large classes, but the corporal punishment still seems extreme.
This was the final day of learning about menus and practising restaurant dialoguefor our after school club. We’d ‘liberated’ a real restaurant menu and the kids poured over it with great interest. None of them have ever been to a Western-style restaurant so it was regarded as a novel foreign object.
At the end of the intermediate class there was a impromptu gathering around the blackboard to discuss geology. We certainly have the top students in the village attending our classes! But we’re not entirely convinced that it’s just interest in learning English that is the draw - there’s a bit of flirting that goes on too.
We don’t have an internet connection at the school so we’d made short videos of internet activities including shopping on Amazon, e-mail, use of search engines, Google maps and Skype. The teachers really appreciated the lesson from Caroline and Gasica, although it left Ann feeling like an African teacher having to look after two classes simultaneously. Fortunately the more advanced group were able to work on a pre-prepared exercise about Diamond Platnumz, Tanzania’s most successful musician who specializes in Bongo Flava and is a big hit with the teenagers here.
Tuesday January 19: The arrival of a van from the CHaRA Mission delivering 800 pairs of TOMS shoes for all the children at the school was cause for massive excitement. Their staff supervised sizing and there was a creative lecture on hygiene that involved glitter. It’s hard to describe the buzz in the school and how happy the children are with their shoes. The donation is made every year and is part of TOMS “One for One” campaign – buy a pair of their shoes and they’ll donate a pair to Africa. https://www.facebook.com/toms
Wednesday January 20: Torrential tropical storms kept most of the teachers and students at home. Those who did arrive were most concerned with drying their clothes. Remember, they have at least a two mile walk or cycle ride to school. No mums doing the school run in the family 4x4. The shoes are a distinct advantage, being rubbery like CROCs. Creative ways are used to distinguish the identical shoes – one child even put dried out corn cobs in his.
A highlight of the second internet class for students was Gasica demonstrating Skype with a colleague at PLCI on his iPhone. The students are riveted and are so hungry for technology. The teachers’ class was originally intended as an English lesson featuring business and IT English but ended up as another computer session. Physical demonstration works splendidly where words and concepts can be lost in translation. Here’s to the motivational use of ‘realia’ in language teaching!
Thursday January 21: We're very excited that we’ve raised sufficient funds to buy a set of 40 tablets called the “Kio Kit”. The tablet was designed in Kenya to withstand the African environment and has tons of suitable pre-loaded information and games. To fund the purchase we have generous donations from The Brighton and Hove Soiree Rotary Club, HELPS (a local Sussex charity) and the Stone Town Rotary club in Zanzibar. A computer expert has kindly volunteered to introduce the kit to the school over the coming months. Everyone is delighted! Caroline drove a delegation from the school to the Ministry of Education in Stone Town to seek exemption from import duty, but we have concerns as the Ministry takes possession of the equipment and we lose control. But in evening at the Rotary club the problem was solved...local Rotarians are visiting Kenya next month and will collect the kit in person. Very reassuring to bypass the official systems!
Friday January 22: Caroline visited the Ministry of Immigration (imposing magnolia coloured building, Stalinist brutalism) to extend our visas to stay until February 20. Rather like the Waitrose deli counter, we took a numbered ticked from an impressively up-to-date looking computerised dispenser. We settled in to enjoy the wait in efficient air conditioning. But our initial impressions were shattered when it appeared that the numbers were being called in a random bingo sequence but our number never came up. Eventually we realised the glitch in the system and gained entry to the right part of officaldom. An interview was conducted in a back office with some suspicious looking characters who asked us how much money we had. They asked us why we wanted to extend our stay in Zanzibar and were informed that bad British weather was not a logical reason for requesting a visa extension. Clearly they haven’t experienced a winter in Lancing. After more discussion the rubber stamp was produced with a flourish and no money changed hands!