With name like Prili, Toletha and Fadhili I am hoping the magic of story will not fail! There is a small dip, almost a curtsey from each girl as 25 young adolescents come timidly into the new Luhunga library. I asked for 15 girls and 10 boys. This is the smallest class in the school and probably in all Tanzania! The acknowledged ratio here now is 80 students per teacher. Our kindergarten,the "Chicka-cheya" has 110 children! The headmaster has ordered the students to appear before the Mzungu teacher each day at 3:30PM. We are doing a novel study together. The story is wonderful "The Heaven Shop" by Deborah Ellis. Deborah Ellis was a Canadian Aid worker in Malawi before Canada cancelled all Aid to Malawi and closed our embassy. The country was to poor for trade opportunities!!! The story is about a young girl, Binti and her family who build coffins for a living! It really is great-truly.
I am using Combined Studies pedagogy from my past. Each student was astounded as they learned that a "work pack" would be needed. All those scissors from my suitcase were the first item to go into the zip lock bags. Not one student has ever used scissors, nor a glue stick or had a brand new eraser or ruler! We will construct individual academic "pop up" books as we progress through the novel.
Here in Tanzania secondary students take all exams in there their third language, English. They memorize huge piles of information with NO understanding of what they are memorizing. The final exam decides life fate. Exams are feared throughout the country and results appear in the newspaper. Secondary students check-out text (syllabus)books not story books or novels. So working with me reading a novel will be distinctly ODD
In Mufindi itself all secondary teachers are supposed to teach in English. It is a lot like the way we were taught French long ago. Almost no one here in the poor rural areas speaks fluent English. Do you feel great sympathy for the students stuck with 6 weeks of Mama Rootie"s strange ways?
I will keep you posted!!