School life in Milingano.
I've been teaching for a over a week now and it's going really well. The first few days was a bit of a shock. The school in Milingano consists of 7 class rooms, one for each standard at the school. Each class room is pretty run down, with three rows of desks, each desk usually sits 3 although the pupils always have a good attempt at getting 4 on. The classrooms all have a black board which takes up most of the back wall. There are no displays in the class room, so the walls are quite drab. The windows consist of metal bars with mesh across to keep the flies out. There are new school buildings being built in both Yamba and Milingano, which the money I raised before coming out has gone towards. So all those who sponsored me to run to and from work, thank you so much, it really is going to a good cause. Some class rooms are in quite a state, with holes in the floors, and steps to get into that even I struggle to get up. If you go to the Village Africa website you might find some photos.
Pupils at the school usually arrive at about 7 am, and they are expected to sweep out the classrooms and the area around around the school. Then at about 7.45 they all line up outside the school and sing the national anthem and a Tanzanian song. At 8 am, lessons are meant to start. Those above standard II have 8 40min lessons, and Std I & II have 30minute lessons. The school has about 8 teachers, but it seems it isn't usual to all be in on the same day. There was a holiday 2 weeks ago and some teachers are yet to return.
I teach 4 lessons a day, 2 to Std II and 2 to Std VI. Standard VI are the oldest year in the school at the moment, Std VII have left due to them having finished exams. The ages within Std VI ranges from 11 to 20yrs old. Primary education was only made free a few years ago, so this has meant some people who previously couldn't afford to go, were then able to so started later than others. All the students seem really keen to learn English, but there is a big range in abilities within the class. The lessons usually consist of lots of games to learn new words, and some written work. Many of you will be excited to hear that I even used a song to help learn and remember words. You will also be pleased to hear that there are no glass windows here so all is well!!
My std II class are pretty crazy!! They are obviously much younger I think about 7 or 8 years old. Many children don't actually know their age as they don't celebrate birthday's here. The ability of the class is a little lower than expected, but I do have to remind myself that English is actually a 3rd language for them!! Kisambaa is the local tribe language, primary education is in kiswahili and then they learn English too. Secondary education is then also taught in English, and this is not free.
Each day consists of me teaching two classes in the morning, we go home for lunch, and then return for two lessons in the afternoon. The walk home is literally about 10minutes, and the children will always come and take our bags from us and walk us home. The villagers are also usually about at this time and we can now manage greetings in kisambaa and or kiswahili. It's at the point when they then try and have a conversation further that throws us a little!
We are back in Tanga this weekend, which is a quiet town on the coast, about a 2 hour drive from Milingano. It's a good chance to relax and we have to do our shopping for the next few weeks. Our housegirls give us our shopping list and we will go to the market tomorrow and buy things like rice and lentils, fruit and veg etc. We have two housegirls in our house, Melania & Joyce, they cook our meals and do some of our washing, and prepare our showers. We also then have a night watchmen called Zaccariah, who is fantastic, he's about 50years old, looks about 60. Every evening we use our best kiswahili to talk to him and he replies in the most high pitched voice ever known!! It's a delight every evening!
We now have 2 weeks until we will be back in Tanga and with electricity, I will return then to give further updates of life. There is talk there might be some rain, which will be quite exciting!!