Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tanzanian school system

I am so grateful to have been afforded the opportunity to make a difference through Peace Corps. My job as a teacher here is so greatly needed. We have been learning about it in training and I have seen it in unrelated media as well. I am not sure exactly of the date, but it was probably around 30 years ago that education became compulsory for children. At first, it was a huge success, with Tanzania being one of the highest literacy rates in all of Africa by the late 1980s. However, it has slowly become problematic. 85% of children will enroll in elementary school, yet only 5% will graduate from high school. Some reasons include not enough trained teachers, not enough schools, and not enough money for education. On top of that, the education system has been designed so that the students learn in Swahili and as soon as they get to secondary school, they begin learning ALL subjects in English. This is a huge problem because so many students can’t understand English at a basic level, let alone learn about chemistry or math in a second or even third language, such as English. Even if there are enough teachers at schools, many of them don’t bother to teach. The students are so disadvantaged: they don’t have textbooks, their class sizes are enormous (usually around 80 students), and many don’t have electricity or the time to study in the evenings. The good news is that many students and some parents are beginning to see the value of education. Many are starting to believe that education can help them get further in life. It’s a humbling experience to know that I can help students understand English better to do better in other subjects and to pass their national English examinations. On top of that, they will have a teacher who shows up to class, and makes class fun. There’s a big shift right now where the Tanzanian curriculum is trying to encourage high school teachers to stop lecturing and try to make class more learner –center. This is a very recent development and so we are also trying to serve as role models for Tanzanian teachers. Overall, it’s nice to see the actual needs of the country I am serving and knowing I am filling a desperate need.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Sara,

    This is the first time I am reading your blog. I hope things are better since your post on July 3rd. Just want to let you know that I think about you a lot and hope you and Jon are doing ok. I'm sure both of you are doing great. Your feelings in regards to teaching is how I feel about medical illustration! I feel so good contributing to education and motivating excitement and encouragement to learn, but you get to do it directly while experiencing an amazing adventure! Anyways, I just wanted to say hi and I will write you an e-mail. Can I send you mail, or...?