Volunteer as a primary school teacher at this small grass-roots school
This is a primary school serving the poorest children who fall outside of the public education system. Many of the children come from disrupted backgrounds, having been pushed out of the family home to live on the street or with relatives, or from poor single parent families. The school provides a uniform and exercise books for the children.
The school consists largely of one large, airy corrugated ‘shed’, albeit clean and cheery from a modest amount of decoration. It is split in to four areas to serve the four age groups, each with a blackboard and benches. When all classes are working it is noisy and industrious.
Despite the obvious hardships, the school has a wonderful positive atmosphere, under the supervision of four teachers who provide a clear and caring attitude to the schooling.
The day starts with some of the children tending the garden. At ‘registration’ the children come together to perform a medley of stretching, songs and mini-presentations, before marching into school (grinning).
They try to teach all subjects in English, (except Swahili). Subjects are English, maths, Swahili, reading (in both languages), bible studies, applied science (i.e. that which is relevant to Tanzania, about health issues, disease etc.), ICT (technology taught from a book), sports and personal development and vocational studies (sewing, arts & crafts, writing).
Volunteers are welcomed to teach English and Maths and any other subjects the volunteers feel capable to lead from the basic text books provided. After school, volunteers can visit the children’s care home nearby that Outreach support and provide after school support, teaching, homework clubs, sports and arts & crafts to some of the more disadvantaged children.
This is ideal for those volunteers taking a gap year, who want to help teach these children in a positive and charming environment, and volunteers wanting to experience a flavour of Africa when volunteering abroad.
Volunteers lead and support lessons. Lessons are 30-45 minutes long, typically delivered from a text book in small class sizes. The head teacher shares what exercise they are focusing on and the volunteer is able to lead the class through this. Alternatively, volunteers can sit with the children and provide coaching to individuals who require extra help.
Volunteers can develop ideas for games, songs, arts & crafts and lead sports activities in the appropriate lessons and breaks. Volunteers can offer ideas to the staff to develop the school (for example the current timetable was developed by a previous volunteer).
Finally, volunteers can interact with the children outside of lessons, just hanging out and having fun.
The activities and interest of volunteers helps in a number of ways. You directly support and enhance the children’s learning, from both leading classes and offering 121 support. Volunteers give the children confidence through their engagement and encouragement. You can make their lives (and yours) more fun. Few people have discretionary time to give these children – creating games, activities and playing sports in the available break time will quickly bring a smile to the faces of children who have a lot of challenges in their lives.
I needed a little break in my job, and probably going away and doing something very different was one of the best things I could have done, Career break, Tanzania