March 4, 2017: One Dictionary per Child (Ann)

It’s hard to describe the excitement of one dictionary per child, but today we did! Children are so used to sharing that they never have exclusive use of anything.  That’s why the Kio Kits are so popular and now they have a rival – the dictionary! Thanks to My Book Buddy, we have some great books and LOTS of dictionaries.  Every student in my class could read a book, look up new words and add them to their personal dictionaries.  They can also look up other words they don’t know but come across in school. It helps so much when all the teaching is done in a foreign language and the teachers don’t always know what words mean. We have so many dictionaries that we gave 7 dictionaries to the teachers, one each for all the English teachers.  We all shared our bounty with Zanzibar Learning 4 Life Foundation.

There was a slight misunderstanding about how they were getting to Zanzibar from Dar es Salam.  They suddenly turned up at the port on Thursday morning when we were at school, miles away. Gasica made a few phone calls and they were safely collected. Later in the day we went to retrieve them from the live poultry section of the market and Gasica bought a live duck which he arranged to be delivered butchered and ready for supper!

Last year we saw the arrival of the TOMS shoes.  They are donated by the Dutch shoe company and the kids are all measured so they get the correct size. The TOMS team also give a lecture on foot hygiene.  There’s some debate about whether the donation is a good idea as it may reduce the need for locally made shoes. However, the reality is that many school children are barefoot or they wear Chinese plastic flip flops.  So TOMS shoes, with their robust plastic soles stack up well against the other options when you have to walk a long way to school each day.

One remarkable outcome from the visit to the Permaculture facility in Fumba is that the students want to start their own sustainable business, using the concept that Gasica has developed at Zanzibar Learning 4 Life Foundation.  One student has a large area of land and he’s thinking of how to irrigate it so that they can start farming.  We visited the site and it looks promising, as long as the water problem can be solved.

We found the UK penfriends scheme was proving difficult to run due to the turnover of students in the UK school.  So instead we’re going to collaborate on regular projects.  The first one was for the Zanzibari students to describe their daily routines.  The Beginners class was happy to take on the challenge and my rucksack is full of colourful illustrations for the English children.

On Tuesday we had some exciting news to share.  The Rotary Club of Zanzibar, Stone Town, has kindly agreed to sponsor two teams to travel to Dar es Salam to participate in the First Africa Open Schools Debate Championships that will be held in Dar es Salam in April. The event includes a day of training by a international expert.  The titles of the debates for the first round look fascinating; my favourite is “This house believes that the use of Swahili as the primary language for education in Tanzania will enhance the quality of education content.” All the advanced class want to participate, but there are only 5 places in the team.  So the class took matters into their own hands and self-selected their best English speakers, who coincidentally are the students who attend Safari English Club most regularly! The event will include teams from other countries and the students from the Safari English club are really looking forward to making new friends from around the world.  It will be the first time for all of them that they will leave the island.  Their teachers are equally excited that a team from Unguja Ukuu can take part in an international event.  Thank you to the Rotary club for making it possible.

Caroline and Gasica ran the final “Work Readiness” module and certificates were awarded to the students who completed the course and who are now able to use the computer as well.  The students want more time to improve their computer skills and it’s a challenge to share 4 laptops between 15 students.  However, 3 more laptops have been repaired and will enter circulation next week.  Haroun has now been entrusted fairly managing a system for one laptop to go out on loan.  There’s much more to be said about our last couple of days at school, but we’re saving those stories for next week!