January 28, 2017: Work readniess begins (Ann)

The week started with the second module of “Work Readiness” for the advanced class.  The first session generated much enthusiasm due to the amount of English learned as well as to the practical significance of the topic.  This week’s class was concerned with skills, qualities, attitudes, experience and qualifications.  Students were asked to speak to the class about their skills and qualities, their job aspirations, and what training they would need to gain the skills needed.  The demand is for two work readiness sessions next week!  Logisctically it’s a bit of a challenge as we need an extra teacher to cover the intermediate class so that both Caroline and Gasica can run “Work Readiness”.  Gasica is already planning to run the course at ZL4LF.

As part of the planning for the trip, Caroline had packed the DVD ‘Bend it like Beckham’. It proved to be an inspired choice as the majority of the class love football. The film stimulated animated discussion around gender, culture, generation, friendship and aspiration. They were surprised to learn that there’s a big English-speaking Indian population in the UK. The Sikh wedding scene along with the clubbing scene were the cause of much laughter.  It proved a brilliant teaching aid for our 14-18 year olds – we find that if the subject matter really grabs the students it overcomes any reticence to express themselves in English.

Currently we have 4 working laptops  at the school.  In addition there are 3 in the sick bay, waiting for the local computer expert to work some magic.  (Likewise the printer is resting up!)  Regardless, computer lessons are very popular with the advanced class.   Computer skills, along with English language proficiency, are seen as being essential to improve one’s life prospects.  So, large groups huddle round the laptops and Caroline works hard to ensure that everyone has a fair turn and that the quicker students support the rest of the class. Most students have no experience with a keyboard let alone a computer. We have them working in Microsoft Word, writing reviews of ‘Bend it Like Beckham’, which they watched on the previous day.  We also looked at adding pictures and graphics to documents.  Hopefully, we will have the INTERNET here one day soon!

Due to the failings of the educational system in Zanzibar, Gasica left school with few opportunities.  He’s self-taught but relishes learning especially as part of a group. So you can imagine how excited he was to be invited by The Goodall Foundation to join a conference in Arusha for Tanzanian head teachers on the topics of leadership and effective management. So he’s been on the mainland for the last 4 days, the only delegate from Zanzibar.  We’re pleased to report that support from Brighton and Hove Soiree Rotary club enabled him to attend and that the course was a huge success.  There was a bit of re-packing at the airport to make room for the obligatory Zanzibar spice selection pack/exotic Christmas decoration.

We had a couple of phone calls from Gascia to check that we were all on track without him. English language teaching in Unguja Ukuu didn’t stop just because Gasica was off the island. He arranged for Khamis to cover his class for the week. There was an official handover meeting and Khamis was left with instructions to ensure the intermediate class mastered at least 20 impressive adjectives and the present simple tense by the time Gasica returns!  Khamis proved an inspiration to the students – he’s just left school and is waiting for his results, but we think his English is excellent.  He’s also learning German at Zanibar Learning 4 Life Foundation and after just a week of lessons with German volunteers he can chat awary in German.  He really enjoyed using the Kio Kits and the class enjoyed reading a story aloud to him.

On Friday we picked up Gasica from the airport, still buzzing with ideas from the course. He has a structured plan of follow up to the course which includes goal setting and mentoring by one of the Tanzanian trainers.  There are two more residential parts to the course, one in March and one in May.  He particularly enjoyed the focus on teamwork and looking at working smarter.  Gasica says that some people in Tanzania believe they can’t succeeed and have the excuse “this is Africa” but the course gave out a clear message that there’s no excuse for not being successful. Gasica is keen to introduce “reflective practice” into his life and will be thinking about what he’s going to do different every year.  Although considering the many achievements and changes he’s made in his life, we think he’s a natural reflective thinker!

Gasica can’t wait to hold a meeting with the team at ZL4LF to share what he’s learnt on the course.  He’s also going to have a meeting with his community to present the developments at Zanzibar L4LF.  There’s some exciting news on the chicken farm front too – the recent visit from the CoCo Foundation and Food 4 Africa has led togenerous funding for a new dormitory, a store, a new batch of chickens and food!

So, all in all, a great week in Tanzania!