A tasty change equation

village education project tanzaniaAt the foot of the majestic Mt Kilimanjaro is a wonderful program that is helping to revolutionise education using the ‘sandwich’ approach!

The Village Education Project Kilimanjaro (VEPK) has received support through The Intrepid Foundation for five years now and we are proud to help support their long term commitment to critical primary education. Katy Allen, VEPK’s Director explains…

“The aim of our Whole School Development Programme (WSDP) is to work with teachers and pupils in the schools at the grassroots level, and then also work with bigger picture stakeholders like the district education officers, the inspectors of schools, the policy-makers in the central Ministry of Education in Dar es Salaam and even with the Prime Minister and the President! Only by knowing what is happening on the ground, what needs addressing, and then working with the top officials to make sure that those needs and solutions are acted upon, can any change come about. We call it the ‘sandwich’ approach, whereby the end product is that the top and bottom fit together well with good content in the middle.

In recent months we’ve had a focus on the teaching of basic mathematics. A recent report has confirmed that the majority of primary school pupils have little understanding of basic mathematics. It is important that the teachers understand how children learn and, hence, how to teach their pupils and assess their learning. We’ve been fortuante to have Jane Firth, a specialist in the teaching of basic mathematics visit Tanzania several times since 2009, conducting seminars for teachers and bringing support to those teachers in their classrooms. She has been working in Mabogini ward with 11 primary schools which is situated about 40km to the west of Moshi town.

All of Jane’s seminars are attended by a district school inspector and Mr Temba from Singa Chini Teacher Training College – a government college responsible for pre-service training of primary school teachers. At one of the seminars, local teacher, Mary Mtei, gave a demonstration lesson showing how, with the help of pupils, it is possible to use games and resources to do group work and to keep a class of over 60 children interested and active. The training of teachers in participatory teaching methods, versus the past rote learning methods, is proving to be very successful.

Dilly Mtui, VEPK’s coordinator, and myself, have met with the new Minister for Education twice, and continue to liaise with the former Minister for Education who is still working on the project to reintroduce the old course books for the teaching of English as a foreign language in the primary schools. We were also honoured to have an hour’s meeting with the President, His Excellency Dr Jakaya Kikwete in the State House who is working on Government support for the books, though there is no final commitment yet because of a lack of government funds.

Village Education Project Kilimanjaro is now well known and respected for its work. The long-term commitment to work in the primary education sector is particularly appreciated by teachers and other stakeholders. With our experience and contacts within all levels of the education system we are seeing signs of lasting change.

We thank all donors who have most generously and kindly donated towards our work. We are always concerned to spend our funds in the most effective manner. We are committed to improving the quality of education in national primary schools in order to most effectively help communities and the country as a whole.”

The Intrepid Foundation – travellers making a difference
Help support Village Education Project Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) and other great organisations via the Intrepid Foundation, plus find out how your donation can be matched* by Intrepid Travel!

* Donations will be matched by Intrepid Travel up to AU$5000 (or equivalent) per donor and a total of AU$400,000 each financial year.

Photo: © Village Education Project Kilimanjaro

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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