Thursday, June 28, 2007

Karibu Iringa!

For our first day in Iringa, we had an early morning meeting with the headmaster and the English teachers at th school (shule). Cathi gave a brief presentation about Project Kesho and then the headmaster discussed the teaching methods of the schools in Tanzania and the local school's needs. We will be working to facilitate man power, funding and any other resources for the school needs through our organization with the help of the local community members. Here are some of the things we learned during our time with the teachers and headmaster: The school is currently serving nearly 1,100 students. There are 23 teachers. Most teachers of English have classes of approximately ninety students. Students are being rotated into the classrooms. (Think of having two classes of first graders, one waiting outside while another class is taught.) The school currently has bathroom facilities for the boys but less to accomodate the girls. The school has one classroom with a teacher desk, but the other classrooms have no place for teachers to put their lesson books or any supplies. The only instructional posters at the school are those that we purchased last year. The book to student ratio is one to approximately six children. Children can check out the pupil books to study at home and cannot keep them. They are reused again the next year. During the half of the year in Iringa when it is very cold and windy, teachers have to close over the wooden shutters to keep the classrooms warm...but there is no lighting in the classroom and wood shutters block all day light. The school would like to replace the wooden shutters with plexiglass or glass windows to allow the teachers and students to see during instruction. Our group has also learned that in the Lundamatwe village area, there are twenty different bore holes (for accessing clean water for drinking) but none of them work. Many are irrepairable, but some (including the one at the school) could be made operable by purchasing a pump for a little less than one thousand dollars. We will be working with the school and the village leadership to put together a plan for bathroom construction and teacher/student desk construction in the community. These projects will be undertaken as a whole group effort and the carpentry work done by community members. It is important that the community is invested in this work--and they are. After leaving our meeting, we rode the dala dala (imagine thirty people in the back of a volkswagon bus) to town. I actually sat on someone's lap... We will be purchasing textbooks and teacher manuals in town today so our group can begin preparing for classroom teaching next week. We will be leading the classroom in instruction and also working to observe and learn with the local teachers. Our team is FANTASTIC and can accomplish so much I think. It is big and important work...and an honor to be invited to take part in the education process at the local level. baadaye... ~cathi

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