By Thomas Walsh Jr., Member of the Rotary Club of Ames, Iowa, USA
Teacher shortages resulting from an increase in public secondary schools and a new required national testing system has created ongoing challenges for secondary education in Tanzania. As a result, the country has seen an increase in staff turnover, schools are hiring teachers with limited post-secondary education or formal teacher training, and students have lower test scores. With dropping school rankings, the country has seen a decrease in tuition revenue and delays in teachers’ salary payments. This has been compounded with limited English language instruction, required at the secondary level, as underqualified teachers don’t always have the proficiency or confidence to teach their subject entirely in the English language.
Schools report high numbers of younger teaching staff with limited curriculum resources and books. Data gathered in Pare Mountain schools found that 69% of the teachers had less than four years of teaching experience and student teachers were recruited to fill shortages.
Given the need for additional resources and training, I helped organize and led a vocational training team of four educators to train teachers on effective teaching methods and English conversation at five secondary schools in the Mwanga District, Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania.
The Rotary Club of Ames in the U.S. partnered with the Rotary Club of Moshi-Mwanga in Tanzania to implement the project, partially funded through a Rotary Foundation Global Grant. The project also included a partnership with PowerFilm and Kindle, who provided portable solar panels for electrical power to charge the Kindle Reader e-book touch pads given to each school.
Our primary goal was to train two faculty or staff at each school site on program teaching strategies so they could continue offering future trainings. A monetary stipend was provided for classroom trainers and covered textbook purchases and print material to support student performance and achievement. We had three primary objectives for the program:
- Provide effective teaching strategies based on the CRISS (Creating Independence through Student-owned Strategies) model;
- Improve the teacher’s English language through discussion and dialogue activities;
- Provide each school with technology and e-books in partnership with Amazon, who donated e-readers, and PowerFilm, who donated solar panels to charge the electronic books. We also provided computer training and support at schools equipped with computers.
Staff and teachers at each school were surveyed to measure program impact. Generally, teacher responses showed a shift favoring the new strategies learned through the training. Faculty feedback showed strong support for the training program. When asked for recommended changes, teachers most frequently reported the need to provide more staff development and support in learning the strategies.
Tusu Tusubira, a member The Rotary Foundation Cadre of Technical Advisers from Uganda, visited our school sites and reported strong enthusiasm for the program and a fit with the national curriculum. According to Tusu, teachers and students want to continue using the strategies learned and students report having gained more confidence with these approaches.
During Vocational Service Month, assess the professional skills your club members hold to utilize their expertise in future service projects. Throughout January, get inspired to put vocational service into action!