November 13, 2015: Zanzibar here we come! (Ann)

Tuesday November 10: We met with Mrisho, a Chairman of the school committee from Unguja Ukuu to assess the current situation regarding the school. We discovered that the school is essentially shut until January 2016.  The reasons for this are national exams in the secondary school opposite (the primary school children make too much noise), the re-run of elections and the December break. It was agreed that it would be feasible to run a programme for the teachers in the morning and a club for children in the afternoon.  Mrisho took responsibility for setting up the meeting for Thursday November 12.

Wednesday November 11: We met with Shafii Haji, who is the inspirational young social entrepreneur who set up the Prospective Learning Charitable Institution (PLCI), now renamed "Zanzibar Learning 4 Life Foundation".  PLCI was established in 2006, and in 2010, registration as a NGO was granted by the government. In June 2013, 150 students began taking courses, and money was donated by the local community to expand PLCI's center by two classrooms and a bedroom for the 11 orphans who have been living in the building since its construction.  The PLCI welcomes volunteers from overseas and regularly hosts volunteers from Australia.  PLCI has a strong relationship with Stone Town Rotary Club and Shafii is an honorary member.

Shafii’s initial project at the PLCI is now running efficiently and he is ready to commit to another project.  He is very interested in our plans for Unguja Ukuu’s school and will give his time to work on this with us.  We will agree an appropriate fee with him for his work.

We visited the PLCI school and one of their community projects.  The projects are intended to give young people leadership/entrepreneurial/ practical skills and to generate income for the school.  Projects include a chicken and vegetable farm, bicycle repair shop and girls handicraft club.  For more information visit:

During the visit to the bicycle repair shop we met two young women who attended ZL4LF and who had been awarded Rotary Scholarships.  They had spent a year at high schools in the USA and have been transformed by the experience.  They have excelled academically in their American high schools, gained confidence and are now ambitious to pursue careers in accounting and medicine or dentistry.  The girls want to be role models for what can be achieved in their chosen professions. The Stone Town Rotary Club is assisting them with some of the logistics of their college applications.

The school has a great atmosphere – the students are encouraged to be punctual, respectful and work hard.  Signs around the school highlight the holistic approach of ZL4LF – emphasizing health, sports and social responsibility.  The teachers are primarily successful alumni of ZL4LF.

The library is well-organised, but can’t compare with an English school!  There are books on a range of subjects – some to assist teachers with lesson planning, on English and science. More donations of books would no doubt be welcome.  They have a system of noting what books are loaned and when they are returned to ensure no books go missing.

The school operates from 9am to 9pm – the children are enthusiastic.  In addition to the focus on English language teaching, there is a focus on children presenting effectively in front of their peers.  The younger children are shy, but the children who have been at the school for a while are noticeably more confident.  They welcome interaction with foreign visitors and are keen to practice English and to improve their pronunciation. 

Caroline taught an advanced class who had many questions for her on subjects to study for specific careers.  Ann taught a class of 8 to 9 year olds who quickly picked up English songs.

Thursday November 12: Hassan, Gasica, Caroline and Ann met with the Headmaster, the chair of the school committee and the teachers of the Unguja Ukuu School.  It was agreed that we will support the school from Monday to Thursday each week until December 18:

  • English language and TEFL for teachers (2 hours per day)
  • English language club for children (2 hours per day)

The teachers expressed support for this initiative and agreed to publicise the children’s English language club ready for the first session on Tuesday 17 November.

During the visit to the school it was apparent that the Book Buddy scheme has not been used properly and the computers need to be audited for functionality.  The LCD projector is working. In the evening Caroline, Ann and Feroz attended the Stone Town Rotary club meeting and updated them on what we are planning for the Unguja Ukuu School.

Friday November 13: We met with Gasica to work on the curriculum for the first week at the school.  It has also been agreed that the most effective way to manage payment to Shafii for his time will be via the Stone Town Rotary Club.  Feroz is liaising as appropriate.