Mar 3, 2015

Update March 2015

            The first term of the new school year is nearing the end. The schools close for a two-week holiday on Friday 27th March.

            Our projects continue, and we started a new pilot project in January in Manyara region.

            In January we gave two weeks of seminars for teachers in the pilot project schools in Mabogini and Arusha Chini wards. Since last year two more schools have joined the project. The training catered for the teachers of mathematics and English who were new to the project and for those teachers who have been working with us for the past year. The seminars were lively with much discussion about the shortcomings in the authorised textbooks, and about the methods of teaching. Since those seminars we have been making follow-up visits to the schools to observe lessons and to help with any difficulties. It has been wonderful to see pupils fully engaged in their lessons, to hear English being spoken and used with real meaning and understanding, and to see pupils using objects so that they can see the workings of numbers, addition and subtraction.

            In the last two weeks of January we journeyed to Babati in Manyara region to work with an Australian organisation which had invited us to assist in their education programme. We were training teachers from four primary schools in the use of our mathematics and English materials. The teachers were most welcoming, and the sessions were great fun. The teachers in this district have not had any professional development and they were so grateful that, at last, help was on hand. The rural area around Babati is beautiful but the schools are very remote. The seminars were held in a secondary school building in a central location. In our time there we managed to visit two of the four schools. One has the difficult-to-pronounce but lovely name of Gijedabung!

            Since our training we have heard that the teachers are enjoying using the materials and that their pupils are already benefiting. We return there for some follow-up observations in this coming week. We have also arranged to discuss with the principal of the local Teacher-Training College the possibility of using our materials as part of the teacher-training course. We also have meetings arranged with the district education officials who are keen to visit our work in Kilimanjaro.

            From both projects several teachers have told us that their pupils enthusiastically ask when the next English lesson is. This is unheard of. We are delighted that our materials are proving to be successful.

At the end of February we presented at the Aga Khan University – Institute of Education Development in Dar es Salaam as part of their Research Seminar Series. We spoke of the action-research projects in both mathematics and English. The questions at the end were too many for the time allocated. The host tutor said that our work could be the subject of a full-day workshop. This was most encouraging and it does seem that our work is not only relevant but of great interest in education circles.

            As ever it has to be noted that none of our work would be possible without the generous gifts from our donors. Every donation helps our work to continue and to thrive.

            Thank you for supporting Village Education Project Kilimanjaro and helping the teachers and their pupils to learn and enjoy mathematics and English..

Very best wishes

Katy Allen

Director

 

28th February 2015

Dec 2, 2014

Update December 2014

Report 2nd December 2014

All the national examinations are over and the school examinations have also been written. The primary schools close for the end of the school year on 5th December. The teachers and pupils enjoy a five week holiday before the new school year starts in January 2015.

 Pilot project maths

Barbara Kerr continued her visits to the primary schools with a focus on helping teachers whose Standard IV pupils were preparing for their national examinations last month. Other teachers came to Barbara’s sessions as they are interested in the teaching methods she imparts, and all the teachers enjoy how Barbara can make a topic simple and easy to understand.

Pilot Project English

Katy Allen continued to oversee the teaching of English using the new course books for Standard I and the New Original English course for Standard III. The teachers of Standard III were finding it hard to conduct the ‘action chains’ in the books. These are oral exercises in which the target language is put into use, and can involve up to 5 pupils coming to the front to use the ‘action chain’ with the language they have learned. A workshop was held for the teachers to be guided in how to organise the pupils, and more particularly in how to engage the many other pupils, and how to ensure the flow of the lesson. After several practices the teachers said they were confident in using the ‘action chains’ in their lessons. They all saw how very useful they are to reinforce the meaning of the language.

Two groups of visitors came to see the projects in the schools, and all commented on how the English lessons demonstrated real participation and understanding on the part of the pupils.

New project

Village Education Project has been invited to join another organisation in its work in the Manyara region. There the teachers in four pilot project schools will start to use the English and maths books after Village Education Project has given initial seminars in January.

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Village Education Project is gaining a good reputation for its valuable work. The spread of pilot projects using the books and methods advocated within them will help to gain crucial evidence for the impact the books can have to improve the quality of education.

            Thank you for helping Village Education Project Kilimanjaro and thereby helping the teachers and their pupils.

Village Education Project Kilimanjaro remains grateful for the support of every donor. We wish all of you a very happy Christmas and New Year.

Very best wishes

Katy

Katy Allen

Director

2nd December 2014

Sep 5, 2014

Update September 2014

Report 1st September 2014

This is a very tense time of year in the primary schools with the National Primary School Leaving Examinations on 10th and 11th September. All schools are thinking about nothing other than drilling their Standard VII pupils for the examinations. However, the schools have been happy to have our continued support by regular visits.

Pilot project mathematics

Throughout the last three months Barbara Kerr has been making regular visits to each of the six schools participating in our pilot project. In each school Barbara tackles problems faced by the teachers, and addresses those topics which her data analysis shows are causing problems. All the mathematics teachers attend her sessions (and even the school cook has been known to come and see what she can learn) and they are beginning to understand that mathematics is a progressive subject and that all teachers of all classes have an important part to play. Barbara has also concentrated on revision topics for Standard VII.

Many teachers have now found new and very simple ways to teach topics. Particular highlights have been Barbara’s visual ways of teaching the ‘real square in πr2’, teaching the circumference of a circle by using a string tied to a pole on the football pitch- steps out from the pole represent the radius and steps around the pole represent the circumference, negative and positive numbers using a basket pulled underwater by weights and lifted above water by birds and many other practical and hands-on ways to teach mathematics.

Many teachers have been told in their training that pupils should be taught the formula for a process in primary school and then what the formula means in secondary school. This has not been at all helpful to primary school mathematics teaching!

Many teachers were most surprised when Barbara showed them how to teach the area of a triangle by using ½ height x base. By teaching this way a triangle can be made into a rectangle and the pupils already know how to work out the area of a rectangle.

The teachers have said many times that they had only ever been shown one way to do anything in mathematics and that there was always only one answer. There has been great excitement and pleasure when the teachers themselves have seen and understood the mathematics they were teaching. Barbara has had many comments such as, ‘That is an easy way to add fractions’, ‘Oh, is that what it means?’, ‘Now I understand’, ‘ Is percentagereally out of 100?’, and ‘There really is a square in πr2’.

Many teachers have asked for further sessions after the standard VII examinations to continue their learning and understanding of the teaching of mathematics. These sessions will be conducted in October and November.

Pilot Project English

After four months in the UK Katy Allen was conscious of the English teachers having been left with very little support in their use of the new English course books. Working in Tanzania has many frustrations, set-backs and disappointments and it is not often that extremely pleasant surprises occur. When Katy went to visit the schools she was astounded by how the teachers were teaching from the books, getting the pupils involved, and how the pupils were demonstrating real understanding by their actions. Also the pronunciation of English words is much improved. In Standard I, using the new Language Awareness course, the children learn to sing ‘Happy Birthday’. This is introduced in nearly every classroom in Tanzania and is always heard as ‘heppy bathiday to you….’, and suddenly these pupils were singing a proper ‘happy birthday’!

The use of both of the new English courses, the Language Awareness course for Standard I, and the New Original English course for Standard III requires an enormous change of teaching style for the teachers and it is marvellous how they have adapted to this and how they are enjoying it. This is not to say that there are no problems at all, but now regular visits and meetings are in place and support and guidance can be given for further improvement. What is evidenced is that, after the initial training, the teachers were able to be guided by the books themselves and to give good lessons from which their pupils understand what has been taught. This is something that Tanzania has not seen for decades.

An evaluation meeting was held on 28th August with all the head teachers and English teachers and at that meeting it was reported from each school that the pupils are enjoying the courses and that real learning is taking place, and that the teachers are correspondingly encouraged to see their pupils’ enjoyment and participation. From using the Language Awareness course the teachers requested more guidance on writing activities for the pupils, and Katy will now revise the course books accordingly. Also the songs need to be recorded as some of the teachers have forgotten the tunes, and they cannot read music.

There are two primary schools which have put in a request to join the pilot project as they have heard how successful it is. We are now seeking funds to enable to expand the project to include those schools.

Seminar with Teacher Training College Tutors and School Inspectors

On 6th August Dr Anne Samson conducted a seminar with the 27 tutors from Singa Chini Teacher Training College, six District School Inspectors and one Zonal Inspector. This was a continuation for the previous seminars which considered the assessment of pupils’ work. This seminar started to address what is really meant by ‘participatory teaching’. All present accepted that they can ‘spout’ the theory but that they don’t know what it really is in practice. Anne started with the method of ‘think-pair-share’. First of all she set the room so that the desks were in a U shape, and then asked the participants to discuss the challenges of participatory teaching, but using the ‘think-pair-share’ method.

The participants then discussed the ‘think-pair-share’ method and how it could be used in a forty minute period. The participants were enthusiastic and the District Inspectors said that they would share the method with teachers when they inspect the schools. Anne made clear that there are other methods and that these would be looked at in future seminars.

One request was that in such future seminars the Ward Education Officers and Head teachers be invited as their experience in the schools would be valuable, and also as the tutors would value greater insight into what is happening in the schools.

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Village Education Project Kilimanjaro is providing much-needed work in the primary education sector, and we are now making a real impact on the learning and teaching of maths and English and more generally on teacher development. This is essential work, and will provide evidence of what can be achieved and what can be replicated more widely. This is crucial as the primary education in Tanzania continues to deteriorate.

Village Education Project Kilimanjaro is grateful for the support of every donor. We run our projects as efficiently as possible with limited funds and new donations are always greatly appreciated as the more we have the more we can help.

The teachers on the pilot project are working against the odds in poor conditions and on low salaries, and it is heartening that they have the energy and willingness to work with us and to want to make things better for their pupils.

            Thank you for helping Village Education Project Kilimanjaro and thereby helping the teachers.

 

Very best wishes

Katy

Katy Allen

Director

 

1st September 2014

 
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