Training Teachers in Zanzibar

Hi, I’m Mariella and one of my roles at Sazani is Education Advisor for our projects. Our current education project is called ABC for Quality Teaching and Learning and we have just finished a six-week teacher training course with our second cohort of 51 secondary teachers and headteachers on the islands of Unguja and Pemba, Zanzibar.

When I meet the teachers on day one they look bemused, perhaps concerned about what they have let themselves in for and felt out of their comfort zone – there’s no sitting in rows, copying from the board or silent participants in our training! As we progress through the six weeks, there’s a real transformation in our teachers as they participate in activities, communicate in diverse ways and learn to work with their colleagues to improve their pedagogical skills. Part of the training involves learning about the concept of Lesson Study, as well as trialling and implementing it in their schools. Lesson Study originated in Japan and is now used widely around the world to ensure teachers collaborate in planning, teaching and evaluating lessons together. The main difference being is that the focus all the time is on the students, what they are learning, how they are learning and what progress they are making. This is a significant step change in practice for our participants.

I feel very humbled that I am trusted, alongside my colleagues to work with such hardworking teachers and headteachers, who not only give up their weekends for six weeks, travel long distances to join us but undertake to cascade their knowledge and train and mentor colleagues in their own schools for a further two years in their own time. The enthusiasm of the teacher for the project is quite overwhelming and would imply that a lasting and sustainable change has already been made to the quality of teaching and learning even in such a short time.

We are busy at the moment evaluating the successes of the project and measuring how students’ have improved and are looking forward to our first set of results after the first year of the project. It’s hard to measure some of the change that has come about due to the project but comments like these from our teachers, reminds us why we do what we do;

“ABC has changed my attitude to my profession. Before, I only asked pupils who raised hands. Now I pick students and can see improved confidence. I feel that I have woken up and awakened myself. From the first to last lesson every day I was at the front of the class – now I am walking around class and feeling more energy. Now I know how to start a lesson by warming up and I see how happy my students have become.”

Mariella first came to Tanzania in 2002 to work as a teacher for VSO in the Lindi district of Tanzania, before moving to Mtwara to take up a post at Mtwara Teachers’ College. After returning to the UK and teaching in schools in London, she now works for Sazani and splits her time between West Wales and Zanzibar. She has worked with lots of teachers in different capacities and now has the pleasure of working with our ABC project participants.

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