Bunda Girls school
Following yet another fantastic Tanzanian welcome from Deninsia, the Headmistress, three girls from Bunda girls' school were delighted when they received gifts sent from their sponsors at Halifax Trinity Academy.
Their school is a boarding school run by Mara diocese with the aim of improving life chances for Tanzanian girls. On site there is a dispensary with a Dr and nurses to treat any girls who fall sick. Opened in 2014, the results are some of the best in the region and the girls are very happy to study. Currently the focus for Deninsia is to get the water connected to a more reliable supply, as well as building a chapel for the girls and houses for the teachers.
The faces of the girls lit up when they saw the letters to them from the students at Trinity. When they saw the stationary to help with their studies, their smiles grew wider.
At ACT Mara, the head teacher familiarised us more with the Tanzanian education system. The children take exams at the end of standard 7 (yr 7). If they fail there is no second chance and students cannot go to secondary school. Sadly, 40 per cent fail of students fail.
Secondary school is for 4 years (form 1-4). They have to pass exams before can do forms 5&6. 50 percent of students fail at this stage. To get into university, they have to do forms 5&6.
All secondary education is now free and is taught in English...after just having a period a day studying English in primary school, many students struggle.
Glen explained how pupils have to follow the government syllabus, even in fee- paying schools like ACT Mara (primary), Bunda girls and Issenye secondary schools (all run by Mara Diocese). The exams taken are very different in style to ours and comprise 50 questions which are multiple choice.
They now some comprehension questions at the end too.
Mara ACT were connected to the internet and WiFi but now do not have the money to do so.
In terms of focus for the direction of the school, Glen explained that they are tackling behaviour management. Since the government has now outlawed corporal punishment, teachers no longer use the stick to ensure discipline. This new development may be popular with the children, but Glen has had resistance from parents who believe that standards will fall if children are not beaten.
Whilst not having the same challenges of over a 100 pupils in each class (numbers are more like 45 in a class), ACT Mara still has some. Salaries are higher in government schools, so teacher retention is an issue. Glen is working on teacher motivation and introduced a teacher retreat, which was well received and which helped build a team .
Pupil rolls have fallen in recent times as parents find school fees difficult to meet. This has meant that planned development of the school is on hold. Whilst classrooms are better than in government schools, floors and ceilings need work, more text books are needed and resources are in short supply.
The children were clearly happy to learn and since classes are smaller, results are very good and all children pass their standard 7 exams to go onto secondary education.
Once again it was a warm welcome by both students and staff.
Many of us were nervous of the journey again following our previous adventures. We did wonder if the bus would hold together under the strain of the rocky road...not the chocolate version...It was so bumpy that the vibrations repeatedly closed the windows or shook open the door. However, we were granted travelling mercies and finally arrived thankful, shaken, but not stirred at Issenye Secondary School, which is on the edge of the Serengeti.
The views from the football pitch are beautiful, down over the plains