Teachers in Tanzania face a variety of difficult professional challenges, particularly in rural areas such as Nyamuswa. Due to demand for qualified teachers far exceeding the supply nationwide, teachers are routinely fast-tracked through accelerated training programs to enable school placements as quickly as possible.
Once placed, these teachers face school conditions commonly including a greater than 50:1 teacher-student ratio and shortages of basic items such as classroom space, desks, textbooks, teaching materials, electricity, and water supply. They often face a lack of nearby appropriate housing for themselves and their families necessitating long commutes between home and school. These are daunting obstacles for even experienced educators. Coupled with the low salary and lack of organized professional development support for teachers, these can become truly monumental challenges.
In seeking to improve the quality of education for students at the schools the Tenda Teachers program addresses the gap in training and professional development available to teachers both in the immediate Nyamuswa area and nationwide.
Active Teaching and Learning Resources
Active Teaching and Learning Handbook
The lecture style of instruction and rote memorization of materials common in Tanzanian classrooms are not the most effective techniques for student learning and are no longer in line with the national curriculum pedagogy. The Tenda Teachers program promotes active teaching and learning techniques where students discuss what they are learning, ask questions, apply their knowledge, and actively participate in class. To support this approach, Tenda Teachers developed the Active Teaching and Learning Handbook and offers intensive teacher training workshops locally for teachers to learn and practice these skills, share techniques, and receive feedback from trainers and their peers. Project Zawadi is working to widen the availability of these materials and trainings beyond the Nyamuswa area.
In addition to the written Handbook, the Tenda Teachers program is currently developing a series of electronic training modules called E-learning Tanzania! These modules will present video lessons on student-centered learning techniques and best instructional practices. These lessons will be linked to the National Teacher Competency Framework, and will be available on electronic devices including laptops, tablets and mobile phones. The modules will progressively build upon previous skills and include video demonstrations of the techniques in action in Tanzanian classrooms, practice exercises to be done upon completion of the module, and opportunities for teachers to work with their peers to reflect on the techniques. The electronic platform allows these teachers to access training in these techniques in even the most remote and isolated locations. After testing and demonstrating the modules effectiveness, future plans include working with the Tanzanian government and major funders to make these trainings available to teachers across the entire country.
The Alliance for Teacher Professional Development in Tanzania
In 2017, Tenda Teachers was the catalyst behind the formation of the Alliance for Teacher Professional Development in Tanzania. The Alliance is a network of representative from 14 government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and faith-based groups actively engaged in promoting education in Tanzania. The goal of the Alliance is to create a professional support network for educators and to make available trainings, tools, and techniques that teachers throughout Tanzania can use to develop their professional skills and improve the quality of instruction in Tanzania’s schools.
English Bridge Workshops
The language of instruction changes from Swahili to English when a student enters secondary school. This creates a significant learning challenge for students who oftentimes haven’t had a proficient English language teacher in primary school. Though they may be capable students, significant learning is missed in their subject materials due to the difficulty in understanding the English instruction. To address this issue, Project Zawadi offers an intensive seven-week English Bridge training workshop for students transitioning to secondary school during the winter break.