What is one of the biggest challenges that young Tanzanian students face?
As Tanzanian students move out of primary school and into secondary, the medium language of instruction changes abruptly from Kiswahili to English. With little or no opportunity to transition in between, most students have neither the opportunity nor the means with which to experience and utilize English effectively to ensure their academic success in an all-English classroom. The abrupt change of language instruction often results in an A performing student, spiraling into the depths of D and sometimes dropping out of school completely. So how can we help?
Why a Debate Competition you might ask?
An English as a Second Language (ESL), debate competition provides opportunity for meaningful application of English for students and teachers alike, empowering and motivating participants. Asante Africa Foundation’s first step toward this endeavor is to provide debate training workshops for participating schools and their teachers.
Along with Asante Africa Foundation, expertise came together from several sources; including Takako Mino- expert ESL curriculum developer and the District Education Office of Tanzania. This partnership yielded a high impact program for over 100 teachers across two school districts. Although Asante Africa covered the costs of the workshops and Takako developed the initial curriculum used in the two-day program, it was the Tanzania district education officials who invited teachers from nearly all primary and secondary schools in their area to attend the workshop. Even officers from the local education office participated.
The training team had specific objectives to help teachers gain skills and knowledge while simultaneously ensuring that all participants enjoyed the training and would leave inspired to empower their students. At the end of the workshops, teachers expressed that they were very happy and wished to attend more trainings on public debate as well as other development workshops to improve their teaching skills. They felt appreciated and were more motivated to become better teachers. Local education officers and school inspectors who participated in the workshops were excited to follow up with the teachers to make sure that they are successful in implementing the concepts taught in the workshops. They were also very supportive of the idea of interschool debate competitions. Both teachers and local government officials were so impressed with the workshops, they agreed that the public debate format should be taught throughout all of Tanzania.
Takako Mino, Asante Africa Foundation and the District Education Office are hopeful about the long-term impact of this training because of the incredible support received by the headmasters and local government. In total, there were 127 participants: 109 teachers, 8 headteachers, 7 school inspectors, 2 academic officers of the local government and one District Education Officer. Imagine, these teachers will reach over 23,000 students!