Last week, we raised the bar at the Kilimahewa Educational Center – for both students and teachers.
First, the students:
By way of clarifying whom we serve at the Center, these are teenagers who can no longer attend government secondary schools because (1) they did not pass the Standard 7 national exam at the end of primary school and/or (2) family or financial circumstances prevented them from transitioning to secondary school. Most of the students do not have strong academic backgrounds and frankly, some come to Kilimahewa because they have nothing else to do other than hang around their family’s small plot of land.
While we recognize that there is value simply in providing these teens with a place to go and a nutritious mid-day meal, this is not our objective. We offer a QT (Qualifying Test) curriculum that can build the students’ skills while preparing them to pass the two QT (high school equivalency) exams and open doors to further formal study. In addition, we now offer computer training, a library program and soon, a husbandry project.
SO, we sat down all the students under a tree and raised the bar of expectations – no more coming late to school, no more putting the head on the desk, no more distractions… get serious or stay home.
Next, the teachers:
Here our message was one of how to motivate. Two weeks ago we held our first community-wide teacher-training workshop on creating class environments of active learning. The best news is that our two main teachers – Rebecca and Godlisten – are also great learners, and they are embracing the challenge to make Kilimahewa a more active and productive place of learning.
So this week Kerri and Jillian introduced manipulatives to Rebecca to use in her English classes and Godlisten to use in his math classes, and microscopes for Godlisten and Winnie (on break from her medical studies) to introduce to their science classes. Kerri brought materials such as vocabulary flashcards and sentence strips to support reading games, sequencing and other hands-on activities that will help students construct sentences, build phonics skills, etc. By taking part in constructing flashcards, sentence strips, etc. and then using them in the classroom, students are better able to understand and retain.
Kerri also brought manipulatives to help Godlisten teach math, i.e. geometry shapes, math games, decimal blocks, math jeopardy, etc. For science classes Godlisten and Winnie are already making plans to create natural stains and slides with the students. Everyone is SO EXCITED to actually be able to use a microscope.
Winnie was telling us about how her secondary school teacher would demonstrate how to use a microscope by referring to a drawing on the wall. Students would have to pay extra money to go into a special room after class and see a real one. So now Kilimahewa students will have an opportunity that their peers in government schools do not even have.
Many thanks to Maria Garcia Lopes and the veterinarian science faculty at the University of Porto, Porto, Portugal, who provided the used microscopes – and thanks to Kerri for stopping over in Portugal and carrying them to Tanzania in her take-on luggage.
Truly, it is taking a village to help this neighborhood of villages outside of Moshi, Tanzania.