The first Montessori kindergarten in a Tanzanian government school

The kindergarten in Korongoni primary school in Moshi has improved a lot during the last year. I interviewed the main kindergarten teacher Clara, in the beginning of August 2014.

Clara is a qualified primary school teacher for children in standard three to seven and for children with special needs. However, due to the shortage of teachers in Korongoni primary school she was asked to take over the teaching in the kindergarten in 2010.

The first years were tough. Clara was the only teacher for two groups of more than 30 children, aged four to six years. She had almost no teaching materials; only a piece of chalk and one book for each subject. The desks were too big for the children and there were a lot of holes in the classroom floor.

Korongoni kindergarten before and after

The kindergarten building before and after

Clara was kept very busy throughout the whole day. She was teaching, preparing and serving porridge and washing the dishes before the next group of children arrived. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much time between the two groups which meant no break for the teacher. The sizes of the classes were too big for one teacher to handle and Clara felt that she had to play too many different roles. In addition to the teacher’s role she was sometimes acting like a police and sometimes like a grandma. Repeatedly she felt overwhelmed during and after work and experienced headaches. At the time she was not looking forward to her work days.

In 2013 Marissa, an Art in Tanzania volunteer came to the kindergarten. Marissa and Clara became good friends and Clara started to tell Marissa her dreams on how to improve the kindergarten. Together they created a plan, and Clara and representatives from Art in Tanzania researched prices for the budget. Back in the UK, Marissa with the help of GAGA-UK, raised funds which made making all of the improvements possible. In July 2013, Korongoni primary was able to open the first Montessori government kindergarten in Tanzania. Now the building has been renovated, proper desks, chairs and teaching materials purchased and another teacher, Mary, has been hired.

Korongoni kindergarten before and after 2

The class room before and after

Clara is now extremely happy and says that her dream came true. Nowadays she likes going to work and is very happy that Mary is there to help. Clara also tells that the teachers from standard 1 are very pleased with the children coming from her kindergarten as they already know the basics of reading, writing and counting. The reputation of the kindergarten has spread and many parents want a place for their kids there. Unfortunately, it is not possible to take everyone as then the group sizes would grow too big. At the moment the morning class has 32 children and the afternoon class 35.

Clara says that this kind of improvement is not too expensive and that others could do it too. Her wish for the future is that more people would understand how important it is to educate children when they are very young. Clara would especially want to continue emphasising the teaching of the basics (reading, writing and counting) after kindergarten, in classes 1 and 2.

Volunteers are wanted and needed for teaching English in both the kindergarten and the primary classes in Korongoni. Clara suggests that the volunteers could use different methods (games and play) in teaching and she is convinced that the kids will benefit from the volunteers’ teaching.

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Clara, Marissa and Mary

Text by Hanna-Mari Pulli

Experiences and thoughts about volunteering in Moshi

Millie, Melissa and Selin volunteering in Moshi

Millie, Melissa and Selin volunteering in Moshi

Millie, Melissa and Selin have been volunteering in Moshi in June and July 2014. We wanted to know which projects girls have been participating and what kind volunteer work they have been doing in their projects. We also asked the girls about their expectations on volunteer work as well as about their experiences in Tanzania.

Millie from Britain spent 4 weeks in Moshi. She worked in two different projects during her stay. In the mornings she worked at Chemi Chemi Nursery School helping and teaching the children. In the afternoons she worked at Neema’s Nursery School and Daycare’s project teaching English for teenagers and young adults.

She says that she finds volunteer work very helpful, especially when one is able to teach the things one knows to others as well. “Volunteer work gives learning experiences to both sides and I think that volunteers can get as much of it as the people they are helping”, she says.

Even thought she felt that she couldn’t do as much as she would’ve liked to do to help people, she says that it is important to feel that one can make a difference at least to some. And she really did. Millie told us that the best experience for her was when the girls who she tough English to, invited her to their homes. That made her feel she had done something right and that her work was really worth something to others.

Two Swedish girls, Melissa and Selin, were volunteering in Moshi for 2 weeks. Melissa was volunteering at the same Chemi Chemi Nursery School as Millie did. Selin volunteered at Sango Women Group & Nursery School where she was working with young widows. She tough them basics of business management, counting and financing. She also told them what kind of things they should consider and what they should do if they wanted to start their own business. She studies business management in Sweden which made the teaching easier for her.

We asked also Selin and Melissa about their expectations and they told us that they didn’t really know beforehand what to expect. They knew about the economical problems but still the reality was bit of a shock to them. Even thought there seemed to be lack of many things, they were impressed about the caring and sharing atmosphere people have and how happy people are with so little resources. It is something totally different than in the western world. “It is amazing how much love for example the children have for each other”, they say.

Melissa and Selin both think that volunteering is definitely worth experiencing. It is something one should do in order to truly experience a new culture because it brings you closer to the culture and people than any tourist trip ever would. They say that volunteering shouldn’t be thought as a vacation because you need to have general interest in helping in order to volunteer with full commitment. They also think that teaching as a volunteer work is an important way of helping others. “Education is the key and the most important way of helping. Also donations are needed but they become so much more valuable with the help in making a proper plan on how to use the money given”, girls underline.

Girls were interviewed and the article was written by two volunteers who have been working in Moshi May-July 2014.

“This is our nursery because this is our society” – Neema’s Nursery and Montessory Daycare

Neema’s Nursery and Montessory Daycare at Kiwodea – Saba Saba Moshi – Tanzania started with seven children on 6th of January 2014. Now there are 35 of 3-6 year old children coming to the nursery and daycare. Neema’s Nursery and Montessory Daycare  is located in Moshi. Neema’s Nursery and Montessory Daycare is a private school and the teaching is mainly in English.

Neema Marko, a teacher and the founder of the nursery school, has before been teaching at Khuba Nursery for seven years. It is her longtime dream to help children’s education as someone helped her once. Neema comes from a poor family and as a child she was selling mangos and onions to get by. Her uncle’s friend from Germany decided to sponsor her and so finishing school became possible for Neema. Now she wants to return the favor by helping children who come from difficult life situations to study. Now, along the work in Khuba nursery, Neema started a new nursery school in January 2014 with a help of volunteer from Finland. Neema will finish working in Khuba nursery in December 2014 when her contract there finishes. She has started teaching adult English class for people with no English or writing skills before. Also in this volunteers can help.

Volunteer in Nursery School

Ever since Neema has worked with volunteers in her new project and she has many very good experiences of the co-operation and this is also why she wanted to work with Art In Tanzania as well. Volunteers in Neema’s Nursery and Montessory Daycare teach English, drawing and math. They are also playing with the children.

Volunteer in Nursery School

At the moment there is also a local girl working as a volunteer. She hasn’t been able to get to the collage so for her working is a good working experience even when she is not paid the teacher salary. Neema needs someone there to help her with teaching, cooking and being with children. Also for the days when Neema is not going to be there, the school has to run.

Neema wants to invite many people to come and help the children and there are many ways of helping. Teaching is the most important thing but also sponsoring the nursery is important because the school is reliant on donations. The school lacks of many things, and books, pencils and also the food for the children are needed. Neema is renting the building and also the rents of two rooms, desks, mattresses and water come quite high and the help is needed. “Teaching is the most important help for the children. But I want to tell about the problems we have. It is not to ask for money or force people to donate but so that people know.”, Neema highlights.

Neema's Nursery School and Daycare

Helping children with education and starting a nursery school has been Neema’s longtime dream that has come true. Now the challenge is to keep the dream alive and the school running. When asked what are her future hopes and plans Neema tells that she would like to go and get a diploma for teaching. She dreams of moving to a new building and to expand to having also a primary and a secondary school as a boarding school. Of the shorter term dreams she would like to collect enough money to get dala dala -car to pick the children to school every day. Some of the children live far away and it is hard to get them to come to school. Many stay at home because the parents don’t have the money to pay the transportation to the school.

These are big dreams for her but not impossible. “Me and you. When we share the dreams can come true.”, Neema says. Neema says that even with her name, the nursery school is not hers but community’s. Even if something happens to Neema, the nursery school needs to go on. “This is our nursery because this is our society.”

This text was written by two volunteers who have been working in Neema’s Nursery and Montessory Daycare at Kiwodea in May-June 2014.

Morning of English, numbers and games in the Winning Star’s Nursery School

By Hanna-Mari Pulli

Winning Stars Nursery  Kunduchi

Volunteers Amy and Helen teaching numbers

This week we visited the Winning Stars Nursery School in Kunduchi. 17 children, from three to seven years old, attend the school. The teacher Glory has worked in the school for two years and says that the volunteers help her a lot! The volunteers come mainly to teach math, English and drawing. The school is free of charge for everyone.The day starts at 9am. Some of the kids come from the orphanage located next to the school and some get dropped off by their parents. This time the children started with math; they were learning numbers and simple calculations, first together and then individually. The volunteers sat down with the kids and helped them when needed.

Winning Stars Nursery  Kunduchi

After finishing their assignments it was time for a play break! The children were playing outside and a couple of them found their inner photographers and took photos with our cameras very enthusiastically. Football, pushing car tires and climbing were also very popular. Before going back inside and continuing to study, a group photo was taken. The kids were very eager to be in the photo and we also promised to send the photos to Glory.

Winning Stars Nursery  Kunduchi

Winning Star’s Nursery School students with the teacher Glory and volunteers Amy and Helen

Winning Stars Nursery  Kunduchi

After the break the children were taught different forms of transportation with pictures; car, bus, airplane, boat and so on. All of the kids came individually in the front of the class to say all of them out loud, and later drew the shapes and wrote the correct names in their booklets. However, soon the kids were getting tired and hungry. The porridge was late. After some 20 minutes of waiting, it finally arrived and the kids settled back to their seats. Glory scooped everyone an individual cup of hot porridge and the children started to eat carefully. When they were finished with their food, it was already past midday and time for the kids to go home.

Winning Stars Nursery  Kunduchi

The Real Kids

By Anna Kevin and Emilia Sten Photos by Edward Sixtus Busungu (Originally published on May 18, 2014)

The co-operation between Real Kids FC trojafootballand Art in Tanzania started already in 2001, and now it was time for them to get new clothes. Real Kids FC is a football club on Zanzibar. The club consists of two teams Junior league and Central. Junior league is from 8-13 year olds and Central for 16-20 year olds. At the moment the younger team has 37 players and the older 25. The players are really committed, they practice every weekday and have games almost every weekend. Since 2011 the Central team is playing in the ZFA Central league, which is the “national league” of Zanzibar. The road hasn’t been easy for the Real Kids FC. They didn’t have much in the beginning, but since the coach Salum Ahmed Mahadh knocked on Edward’s door they now have much more resources.

First game with the new shirts, against Rolling Stones. Unfortunately they lost 1-2. It was only a friendly game, the real league starts 15th of October.

First game with the new shirts, against Rolling Stones.

Edward Sixtus Busungu is the manager of Art in Tanzania on Zanzibar and he puts his whole heart into helping the team. He has spread the word of the team in the aim of getting as much support as possible. Donated footballs have arrived even from England. Last Saturday the team got brand new football clothes from Art in Tanzania. The design and the making of the clothes were made by Detroit Sober House – one of Art in Tanzania’s community development projects. The team now looks like a professional team and maybe that takes them one step closer to their dream – to be part of the national team of Tanzania.

Internship at Art in Tanzania

By Emilia Sten and Anna Kevin DSCN6592

We are studying tourism at the University of Applied Sciences in Finland and it was time for us to have our internship. We knew that we wanted to do something out of the regular and we love travelling, so when we found the organization on our school’s list of possible internship places, we couldn’t get it out of our minds. We left the rainy Finland behind us heading for a months adventure, and it really has been one.

It took a while to get used to their “pole pole” (slow) working tempo. We got pretty free hands, but that also meant that we had to take things into our own hands. We wanted to get out as much as possible of our internship, and also see different places. After talking to some workers, we made up a plan, which everyone was happy with.

Our main task was to write stories on Art in Tanzania’s blog. This took us from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar and via Moshi back to Dar. To visit different places and talking to different people gave us a lot, and we hope we have been able to share what we learned to you on the blog. A part of our internship is also to be at the stand on the Nordic travel fair in January in Finland, so if you are around you are more than welcome to meet us there. Today is our last day, and we are amazed how much we have experienced in just a month. We are sad about leaving all the nice people behind and a bit a afraid that the real culture shock will hit us when we come home, since we didn’t have one when we arrived.

(Originally published May 5, 2014)

The Beginning of New Thinking within Schools in Tanzania

Written by Lynne Hambury (South Africa) (Originally published on May 2, 2014)

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Trez Hota Nursery school is one of many nursery schools situated in Bahari Beach, Dar es Salaam. Children from the age of just a few months up to 7 years old attend the school. There are three classrooms – one for babies, another for toddlers and the third for older children who fall between the ages of 5 and 6 years. Each class has between 8 to 16 children.

At the entrance to the school, a neat array of tiny shoes line the wall – A sight that welcomes guests right away. Once inside one is greeted with a torrent of little hands, and hugs are freely shared with huge smiles yelling ‘Teacher!’. These kids are definitely not camera-shy either – they love having their photo taken, then looking at the display screen to laugh at themselves in the photos!

I’m visiting Trez Hota with a volunteer team from Art in Tanzania (AIT) who has come to the school to hold a seminar with the staff about children’s rights within the school system. It’s a sensitive topic as it includes discussing the replacement of corporal punishment, which is still general practice (and welcomed by parents) in schools in Tanzania, even though it has been deemed illegal.

Working together with UNICEF Children’s Agenda (CA), AIT’s main focus at this meeting is to introduce the Children’s Agenda and its role in schools to the teachers.

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Team leader at AIT Volunteering, Danielle Knipping who is conducting the seminar (with a Swahili translator) in line with The Children’s Agenda’s Investment plan, tells the teachers the important role that they play in a child’s life. They have the opportunity to make a difference in areas such as better hygiene and sanitation practices in schools; early childhood development, which includes social, physical, mental and emotional areas; quality education for all children and making schools safe.

Through the teaching programs that AIT offers, volunteers have had the opportunity to interact with local teachers and students, identifying the challenges that are faced within the school system in Tanzania. A big issue is that of discipline in the class and how to implement a non-corporal punishment environment.

At the meeting Danielle suggests some non-violent methods of disciplining children to the teachers, such as writing their name on the board as a warning; time-out sessions; short after-school detention; writing lines and visiting the principal’s office. The teachers are receptive and seem to accept and agree with the suggestions made, but there is a hint of uncertainty. Then one of the younger teachers voices that it is very difficult to move away from corporal punishment as it is a cultural practice and parents expect them to use this method if all else fails. Physical discipline is practiced at home and so an expected method at school as well.
It is clear that this meeting is only the very beginning towards change. The next step would be to meet with the parents so that a consistent method of discipline is practiced at home and followed through at school.

The staff is eager to be helped – Certain scenarios are given to Danielle for advice, but only so much can be suggested now; another session would be needed to brain-storm different motivational tactics that can be used in the classroom.

The meeting ends well with an idea for the volunteers to create posters displaying rules dealing with sanitation and good conduct to be followed by the children. It is decided that more brain-storming sessions will be held with the teachers to think of creative solutions to produce a safer environment, promoting children’s rights and encouraging learning and development.

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ALL CHILDREN DESERVE THE RIGHT TO BE FREE FROM VIOLENCE.

Michael Sungu (AIT representative for the Children’s Agenda)

There are other means of discipline besides corporal punishment. Even if sometimes in the heat of the moment we do not find or do not look for an alternative response, corporal punishment is never the only solution, nor even a real one. Corporal punishment does not teach right from wrong, it teaches fear and hate. Education and love are constructive ways to teach self-discipline, respect and morality. Children are just young but not stupid – they need reasons not violence to become aware when they misbehave. Let’s raise children who are conscious, not one’s who live with and act through fear. Please, don’t teach children by hitting them! That won’t do any good. Understand them and talk to them. We should teach children as we expect them to behave when they reach adulthood. It is well known that children who grow up in violent home environments are prone to resort to violence when trying to deal with their own problems. Invest to make school safe, that’s what today’s wise societies are breeding. No child should suffer physical punishment from anybody.