Visiting the UK is always very educational for me, and has huge benefits for the communities that I work with and visit in East Africa when I return home.
One of the things I learnt on this trip is the importance of good communication and positive interactions between students and teachers in quality of learning. This is something that many schools in East Africa don’t recognise. I saw at the schools that I visited here, that students are respected and their opinions listened to by staff and teachers, which I can see helps build the confidence of the students. I also noticed that the use of teaching aids and the availability of resources help to make lessons more engaging. In many classrooms I saw ways of encouraging children to behave well and try their best, including behaviour charts and a set of golden rules. I plan to implement all of these things in schools in East Africa, as I believe that they will help to improve the standard of education.
I was impressed the commitment of the staff in all of the schools and nurseries that I visited. All the staff seem to feel part of the organisation, and use their own initiative to fulfill their roles in the school. I am going to help staff in our schools to take more ownership of their jobs, to build confidence in using their own initiative to find ways to improve.
Another effective way of teaching I noticed was teaching children depending on their abilities, rather than age. It is very easy for the best students to dominate lessons and leave those struggling behind, I noticed how important this is for the students at the bottom of the class.
At Cardinal Hume, I saw that students get to choose the subjects that they study – and there was a massive choice! I could see how important it was to have a variety of choices for students, to cater to their different interests and abilities. I think that in Tanzania we should have a similar system, with more choice for students, specialising in subjects that are relevant in our country.
To help with our small loans training, I learned that in the UK people tend to specialise in one area of work, and to focus on doing that as well as possible. For example, in the UK if someone decides to open a coffee shop, and they will focus all their efforts on that. In Tanzania, a person may open a coffee shop but also have several other jobs, selling charcoal, farming or even teaching, meaning that each of these things is being done to a poorer standard.
When I’m in Tanzania, I share everything that I’ve learnt with the people that Hoja Project work with. I will tell teachers and students everything that I saw, and we decide which things will benefit our schools, and which aren’t relevant. This helps people in East Africa to feel connected to the UK, and can help bring positive change to the schools here. For example, at Elimika Centre the students are already creating their own set of Golden Rules for the school. By giving children the responsibility of writing the rules, they will feel ownership of the rules and help to shape the environment of the school. It will also improve to resolve conflicts between students and make the school and nice place to learn and spend time.