Caroline and I are back in Zanzibar – just in time for the start of the new school year. The former Standard VI students are waiting for the results of their exams (primary school leaving exam) . About 25% of the year group are at the local secondary school, but if they pass their exams they will go to a good school either on the mainland or in Stone Town. After two years of 6 hours of extra English every week, they’re still enthusiastic about being part of Safari English Club. Their secondary school teacher reports that this year’s intake are coping much better with the curriculum and thinks our English lessons are a major contributory factor. In my first class I asked the students what is motivating them to keep learning English and the responses included that they want to be successful academically, to become teachers, to get a good job, to travel to the UK and just because they like English.
We tested all the students and found that the majority understood all our oral questions which used the present and the past tense. They were confident in giving their answers and no-one scored below 70%. So a big thank you to all the volunteer teachers, the local teachers and our supporters for helping the children achieve this!
Tina Hofer, a teacher who used to work in Zanzibar, was visiting the island over the New Year holiday asked to visit the school last week. The students were delighted that she brought with her letters from her students in Austria. The Zanzibari students asked Tina lots of questions to find out about her and her about life in Austria (are you married, do you have children, what’s your nickname?) Then they settled down to write about their lives and enjoyed using the newpens and pencils that Tina had brought with her. I particularly enjoyed the letter that started “I have 2 cats, one cow, a goat and a monkey” – I doubt if the Austrian children can top that!
After being away for 9 months there’s lots of news to catch up on. Apart from the marriages, births and deaths, there’s sad news that the government has shut down the nursery school. Two years ago two of the primary school teachers used their initiative to set up a nursery school that’s in the centre of the village. The children are taught English songs, nursery rhymes and games so they are well-prepared for school. They plan to take children up to the age of 8 at the school – currently these young children have to walk for an hour to school. The teachers have already built two classrooms and have a third classroom under construction. However, the government has shut the school down until they have funds to build a fourth classroom (and ultimately have a total of 6 classrooms). We’re hoping to raise money to help them build the extra classrooms so that they can reopen.
Plenty of English in action this week. Comparisons – finding out who has the longest arms and the biggest chest! Plans for the advanced class are still being worked out but Caroline enjoyed teaching the students about the Zanzibari Turner prize winner and explaining some British humour thanks to a kind donation of the video “Three men in a boat”.
And the other big news of the week was Gasica’s return from Canada. He seems to have coped quite well with the freezng temperatures – once he’d worked out what long johns are, he just didn’t take them off! He spoke at a lot of meetings about Zanzibar Learning 4 Life Foundation and his plans for the new school. A highlight of the trip was the Daraja gala dinner where funds were raised for the new building. The time away included Christmas, Gasica’s first experience of the season and he was stunned by the event and couldn’t begin to imagine how much money was spent on the electricity alone for the festive lighting! He’s returned home to his new wife, Rayyan – they had only 2 days together before he left for Canada, so she was delighted to have him back safely.