Another corny blog post title, this one is a lyric taken from Irene Cara’s iconic 80s song, Fame. I suppose I am hoping that it is a byproduct of what we have achieved by being featured in the Tanzania Daily News video found here.
I made the acquaintance of reporter Sauli Giliard, himself a Moshi man now living and working in Dar es Salaam, earlier this year when he happened upon an old article of his that I had posted to this very blog back in 2017. His interest piqued, he reached out to me and of course – you know me! – we got to talking.
Sauli was very impressed by The Toa Nafasi Project and, as a product of Kilimanjaro, had a vested interest in its outcomes. He traveled from Dar home to Moshi and met with members of the Toa staff, government headmasters and teachers, and even the new DEO, Mr. Ngonyani. The result of his interviews and research is this video which is posted to the Daily News Digital channel as well as YouTube. Written pieces in English and Swahili are still in the works, and we hope to continue the dialogue on education in Moshi Municipality and the nation of Tanzania at large with Mr. Giliard for a long time to come.
I’ve loosely translated the 15-minute video below and after watching, you tell me, will you remember our name?
We start at 9am where government teacher Madam Agata Kimaro is teaching reading in a classroom decorated with different materials in the Standard One class of Moshi Primary School.
She is showing different ways to teach reading to overcome various obstacles. She says sometimes students have not come from kindergarten or maybe they come from bad environments so she tries to create lots of exercises to help them learn.
Toa tutor Sia Mtenga from Msandaka Primary School discusses different difficulties children face and describes how Toa tutors share the work with the government teachers. Toa staff have the time to work with kids one-on-one and go over concepts many times.
Headmaster Mlinga of Msandaka admits that government teachers do not have the time to go slowly with each child who is struggling over the course of the school day; there are too many children and too much work. He guesses that out of 60 kids, you might discover that 5 are not performing well.
In 2016, the Government of Tanzania created a system of free education for all and Toa Nafasi’s goals do align with this system.
DEO Ngonyani states that part of the problem is language and tribal/cultural differences when children move from one part of the country to another. Not everyone values education in the same way.
HM Mlinga discusses the variety of levels in the classroom: some pupils learn quickly, some slowly, some not at all. Additionally, the problem of truancy creates a difficult learning environment.
So, how do we help these kids?
Toa’s Ema Mnubi explains the Toa way: observe and assess, care for the kids in the classroom, watch their performance, and build confidence in those who are not naturally uplifted. Toa in partnership with Moshi Municipality is aimed at supporting children in these ways in various schools in Moshi.
Toa tutor Noela Kitomaro works with Madam Kimaro at Moshi Primary School and talks about how Toa cooperates with parents to educate their children. She explains that we have a designated classroom for our unique “pullout program” where we tutor children in their regular subjects and then return them to their class.
Augustino Valerian, Toa’s operations director, says that Toa students learn everything that the government orders them to learn but gives them more time and makes sure that they understand. He describes our special techniques of befriending the children and making them feel safe as well as using play-based learning like songs, games, and stories so that in the end they love school.
For the schools in which we have passed through, DEO Ngonyani says things are going well and he likes the techniques we use because we work in tandem with the government teachers so that if Toa ever phases out, the government teachers remain with those techniques.
The video ends with a brief mention of SPELD, a South African organization similar to Toa Nafasi that seeks to improve the learning environment by promoting: safe classrooms; the inspiration of students to help each other and provide motivation; building friendship and discouraging fear of the teacher; the creation of communication between students, teachers, and parents to follow the development of students even outside of school.
The Daily News has added the following caption to their posting on YouTube which again I have translated just below:
#ToaNafasi #Elimu #ManispaaYaMoshi #SlowLearners Walimu hutumia mbinu mbalimbali kwa lengo la kuwafanya wanafunzi waelewe.Walimu na hata viongozi katika sekta hiyo nyeti kabisa wanakiri kuwa kuna changamoto kwa baadhi ya wanafunzi kujifunza hivyo, hatua madhubuti inapaswa kuchukuliwa kuhakikisha kuwa wote wanajua kusoma, kuandika na kuhesabu endapo serikali inataka kufikia lengo la nne la Dira ya Maendeleo ya Taifa 2020. Daily News Digital inakuletea kwa kina jinsi tatizo hili linavyohitaji jicho la pili @Daily News Digital
Teachers use a variety of methods with the aim of making students understand. Teachers and even leaders in the most sensitive sector acknowledge that there are challenges for some students to learn, so concrete steps must be taken to ensure that all are literate if the government wants to achieve the fourth goal of the National Development Vision 2020. Daily News Digital brings you in detail how this problem requires a second eye.