Headline News:





January 10- Headline

As ever, education remains a central preoccupation here among families, children, teachers and the community and this year more than ever as the new government, elected in October, makes headlines announcing something that sounds like …good government. Their goal of providing free education to all primary and secondary students in the country has been cause for celebration, wishful thinking but mostly breath holding as the start of the new school year begins. These goals  are not something easily implemented especially since there has been no rapid education /preparation of new teachers or building of new classrooms to deal with the expected hordes of newly enrolled students. But the government insists it has collected revenue from untapped sources, is being accountable and will succeed.

Our project is looking to take advantage of the new rules, though, and we have frozen paying for the perhaps 9 remaining students we sponsor at the primary and secondary level. Most of our students are beyond secondary now and we have two of our students attending private secondary school -no freebie applies here- at greater cost but with significantly better resources and outcomes. Government schools are dirt poor and most people will go private if they can afford it. Still we will likely pay for a some other contributions- food ,uniform, shoes, books- required for each child, just not fees.

Early in our visit here we went to Kilema Primary and met with the headmistress who, when we met walking on a path through the bananas, invited us to visit on opening day of school. We arrived to throngs of children dressed in blue and white with sweaters the colour of the Tanzanian flag. They greeted us with “Shika” and after much handshaking, clapping games and picture taking they launched into wild singing of ‘Happy Birthday to You’! Headmistress on the first day was housed in her office in the old primary school, made unstable by an earthquake some years ago. In the beautiful old building, which the school children are forbidden to enter, she keeps her desk near the door. Despite news reports that funds have been deposited in the bank accounts of regional schools all over the country, this administrator says she has nothing in her account. Because of the headlines she has had 40 new students enrolled that day. There is no money for security or cook fees and a local councilman has donated food until money arrives. Of the eight classes at the primary, including a kindergarten class, there are only 4 teachers. Half the children are without. The teachers are wildly outnumbered by enthusiastic and beautiful kids and I briefly wish I were a trained teacher with lots of time….. Later in the week we visit Rukima and Ifati secondary and with hundreds of students they too have no funds for the start of the new year.


Jan 15 Headline:

In the newspaper there are reports suggesting many schools have registered more than 3x the number of students as the last year. In Dar esalaam one Standard 1 class (grade 1) has 155 students. Everyone is wondering if this government has created it’s own crisis, putting the cart before the horse and further eroding public confidence in a government funded educational system.

Last Saturday our group made a trip to Arusha to visit one of our new graduates, a teacher named Jonus Ngowi who introduced us to 11 classrooms ! and all his colleagues at Angelia Lipaini School in central Arusha. What a thrill to see this young man teach finally! Later we visited our student teacher, Jackson, at Arusha Teacher College and Jonus spoke to his student colleagues there about the rewards of being a teacher and the benefits of being a positive part of the lives of so many children. We are certainly proud of the three teachers our project has so far produced while reflecting on how many more are clearly needed.

Today we left the hospital by dalla dalla for Ifati Rukima schools, puddles of red muddy water running down the roads with rainy season well upon us. Our second visit there and today the headmaster reported that some funds had arrived. 500,000($350) of 3,00,000 Tanzanian shilling needed monthly had arrived. A beginning at least. Our project officer, Avelin Nguma has checked other schools as well. Resesa has received money and so has Kisaluni Secondary. With the money starting to arrive we remain a little more hopeful that this change in education policy could be an extraordinary one.










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