Thursday, September 29, 2011

More News!

Habari! Everything is going very well here at school and the children are enjoying their school days. There have been many changes happening from redecorating, staff and class restructuring. We have redecorated our classrooms and they are looking more and more wonderful! I really love my classroom the more it becomes filled with educational posters and students art work!
We have had some staffing changes. Madame Lindsay is no longer with us. Madame Lindsay was looking for employment, hopefully in Zanzibar that started in December or January. During the very early days of her search a school in Zanzibar that starts in October offered her a job. An opportunity like this on Zanzibar is hard to find so she decided to take it. It was not a easy decision for her to make and took many days and a trip to Zanzibard but in the end she made the best decision for herself. It was sad to see her go last Friday, but we had a fun filled last day. We had a field day in the morning followed by arts and crafts. At the end of the day we enjoyed some improvised ice cream sandwiches of ice cream, biscuits and banana, where the students presented her with surprise goodbye cards! We certainly miss her but wish her all the best.
With this means we are back to only two teachers and have had to restructure our schedule and classrooms! We now have the two cheke cheyas(kindergartens) together being taught by Sir Godfrey, which seems to be going very well. While I am still teaching the Standard One students, although at times we help each other out and swap classes.

Here are a bunch of pictures of the school and activities, Enjoy!
My classroom, standard one! 
Our Core Values!
Bulletin board: Animals. Vegetables & Fruits!

Sight words

View from the back of the classroom

Alyat studying subtraction.

Sir Godfrey teaching!
Learning Shapes
Animals, Alphabets and Numbers

Dance Class!

Issa very into the moves!

Madame Lindsay reading to the students


Thanks so much for checking in and more to come!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

          Habari! The classes have filled up with children’s smiling faces and the school term is already a month under way. We have many reasons to be excited from new students, a new teacher, wonderful donations, and new programming!
Lindsay-is our new teacher from The United States and here to teach our advanced cheka-cheya class. She is a very happy to return to Tanzania, after studying abroad in Zanzibar last year. It has been very helpful having her here and I’m looking forward to working with her.  
          On the last day of summer vacation while Lindsay and I were redecorating the school-we had four new students sign up! They are all wonderful additions and further helped secure the schools longevity. Not only did we increase our student body but two of them are girls-which has made Alyat, the former only girl, very happy! Due to the student’s different levels of English comprehension, we have separated the cheke-cheya into two classes. Sir Godfrey teaches the introduction cheke-cheya and Madame Lindsay teaches the advanced cheke-cheya. The introduction cheke-cheya is where the students learn the very basics of the English language, mathematics and good school behavior; while Lindsay goes more in-depth with these basic concepts. 
          The donations that Lindsay and I were able to bring back from North America are a blessing. All the reading books are wonderful and very easy to intermix into our curriculum. The whiteboards are used daily and the children love to do work on them!  All of us at the UHURU DAY TUITION Program are very happy and grateful for these donations. 
          Over the semester we will be introducing a dental hygiene program, school garden and compost. Lindsay and I both brought back toothbrushes and toothpaste from our dentists. To ensure the success of this program we have the students brush their teeth each day after lunch. The students really enjoy their toothbrushes and like to remind us all through lunch about brushing their teeth. Over the next few weeks the first steps will be taken to start our school garden. This will allow us to teach responsibility, organic gardening and lower our fresh food costs. The students will help from the beginning and feel ownership toward the garden. We plan on starting off with our leafy greens, as most other vegetables will not be ready this term. In addition to the school garden we will introduce composting to lower our waste, which is very difficult to get rid of.

      Lindsay is a experience ultimate frisbee player and has begun teaching our students the fundamentals of frisbee. The first lesson was to not call it a plate! Here are some lovely photos from our first frisbee lesson!!! 

I’m very much looking forward to the last term of school and all the possibilities it holds. Again, thank you very much for the donations that have been given to us! More to come in the following weeks! 

- Madame Kirsten 

Friday, July 15, 2011

End of the school term!


    It’s Kirsten here. We are currently on a long vacation for the month of July. The end of the year was very eventful and busy with teacher transitions, numerous volunteers, our first field trip, and another round of exams. 

The transition of teachers has gone smoothly although it took some getting use for the students and myself. The students had to get use to a new Madame's teaching and communication styles. As for myself, I had never had a full teaching job. Despite having had experience teaching specific topics, I had never been fully in charge of an entire range of subjects. It has challenged my creativity, patience and intelligence, and is more rewarding and life changing then I could have ever expected. I am so grateful and happy to have not only taken this position, but having decided to stay for the full year. I believe it is the best decision for all of us!

During the months of May and June we had many volunteers from the United States come and work with the students, primarily the cheka-cheya (kindergarten) class. It was a real treat for all the students! The first volunteers were an amazing group from Champlain College, in Burlington, Vermont. Champlain College students have been working with Uhuru Youth Center for the past three years, and it is a wonderful blossoming relationship. For over two weeks they came and worked with our students every morning, assisting on basic addition and word association. They also provided lots of fun during daily recess! The second volunteer we had was an individual named Kaitlin. She was a major help while our cheka-cheya teacher,Godfrey, was sick. Kaitlin was a real joy to have at Uhuru and provided us with a variety of different lessons. As an experienced yoga and swimming instructor, Kaitlin taught the students their first yoga moves, something they greatly enjoyed.  She also provided us with good fun ways to help the students improve their swimming.
   Our first field trip was a real success and fun filled day! We went to the local Shamba la Mamba (Crocodile Ranch). For lunch we had sodas and chips mayai (french fries cooked in eggs), a local specialty. We ended the day swimming at the local hotel. We were able to keep the price at 5,000 TSH, which is approximately 3.00 US Dollars, making it affordable for every student! We all had a blast!

Finally, the last week of school was filled with exams, a birthday celebration, and a special treat on the last day of class. Exams went well for all students. On the last day of class we were able to have some chicken from Michelle and Aladdin’s farm, a real treat! After our nap we had a great birthday celebration for one of our students who is turning 7 over vacation. There were songs sung, cake, ice cream and our daily bananas! It was a wonderful way to end the school term! 

   I’ll be back with more soon, before school starts again! It’s time to start coming up with new lessons and gathering supplies while visiting in North America. We have been getting lots of generous support from family friends, which is so touching.I sure miss these smiling faces!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

More Updates

It's now beginning of May and we are trucking along. Students have undergone midterm exams and are currently enjoying a short Easter break. School resumes on May 2nd until the end of term in June.

We now have a new teacher, Kirsten who comes from America. Kirsten took over teaching my grade one class so that I could pursue paid employment in the capital city.

Kirsten is amazing! Originally, she agreed to stay until the end of term in June but now she is staying for the full year-an absolute blessing for our students who need to consistency in order to learn.

We also have a new teacher, Lindsay, coming aboard in August to help with our Kindergarden class. We hope that with more advertisement and the new teacher, we will be able to recruit new students to the Kindergarden class.

We have had more wonderful donations-books from the International School, school supplies from my family friends Jennifer and Rick, Catherine and Marc as well as my brother Kevin and sister-in-law Erica.

Students are now fully fluent in English and it is amazing to see them learn! This is truly a remarkable experience and one that I am so thankful to be a part of...

More posts in the new term along with some new fabulous pictures!


Friday, January 28, 2011

Uhuru School- Grand Opening!

We officially opened the doors of Uhuru Primary School (Day Tuition Program) on January 3rd! Not all has gone as expected but that was expected!

We started with just 4 students on the first day, two of them being my own children: Nailah and Nasmah. Within a few days, word got out and we had several parents taking registration forms home with them. As of today, January 28, 2011, we have 9 students at the school.

K-Grade One Classroom
  Because we are operating on a small budget with just a few students, we decided to run only one class: a Kindergarden/Grade 1 split (taught by myself-Michelle). There was little interest from parents with students in Grades 2-4 primarily because they did not want to switch schools. So, although Martha is currently not teaching with us, she is still an ongoing support for the school!

Sir Godfrey teaching Kiswahili
True to my testiment about local public schools, one of our students was actually in a grade three level at a local primary school. Within weeks, I realized that her mathematics and science were at a grade one level while her reading was at a beginning grade two level. This particular student did not know how to count backwards from 20, did not know how to count by 5s nor knew how to finish shape patterns! 

But after one month, we are getting into the swing of things. We have developed some great routines like the morning calendar, our 'Bonjour' song and assigning a special helper each day! We are making due with little resources- we received a shipment of used books donated by the International School of Tanganika in Dar es Salaam which we cherish! We have developed a small 'reading corner' and do both group reading and individual reading. This is particularly important because, in Tanzania, youth are not exposed to books and as a result, don't have a love for reading like we do in Western culture. 

Reading Time!

Interactive learning is challenging with few resources but we are making due. We did some experiments last week in our first unit: Weather. We used a fan to push a small boat on water, observed properties of air as we filled a ballon and even created our own mini windmills using leaves and sticks from coconut trees. We have also created some amazing arts projects using materials donated by Martha's family.

The students are learning English at a phenomenal rate! It amazes me and confirms my opinion that English  is best taught by fully emersing the students (something I learned personally from my years of French Emersion). Students are learning french through songs and play and literacy in Kiswahili.

Swimming at the beach
 We have started weekly swimming lessons on Friday mornings. When we get the nod from the Manager, we walk down to a local hotel to teach lessons in their pools. We have been very fortunate in that Millenium Hotel has given us a discount on the lessons to make it more affordable for our program. The students love the lessons-not only because they love to swim but because it is a treat to be able to swim in such a nice pool! On the days that we cannot go to Millenium, we go to the beach. There we take the students one by one into the deep water to practice their strokes...definatley a life skill they need to know here!

On Wednesdays, we do sports and arts and crafts. The students spend the morning playing organized soccer and the rest of the day doing arts/crafts and learning games. When the weather does not permit outdoor soccer, we spend time dancing and drumming inside the main hall. As we move into the rainy season, we are going to have to get creative about how to fill our Friday (swim) mornings and our Wednesday (soccer) days.

Sir Godfrey with the class
 I have an amazing assistant: Godfrey. Godfrey is actually a graduate of Form IV and a student/receipient of sponsorship from the Uhuru Youth Center. After completing Form IV, he had few options for work and was unable to go on to the pre-University years. As a way to give Godfrey a chance to develop teaching skills and gain experience, we decided to hire him as a teaching assistant. So far, he has been a huge asset to the school. He teaches Kiswahili, soccer and swimming as well as assisting me in preparing for lessons, feeding the children and play supervision. Godfrey has amazing patience and is great with the kids. We are truly lucky to have him!

I have posted some pics of the students along with my classroom. I hope to post more updates for friends, supporters and parents within the upcoming months...

Feel free to email me or write posts if you have questions about the curriculum, the program or anything else!

Bye bye for now!

Students show off our 'Uhuru' T-Shirts

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Uhuru Primary School (Day Tuition Program)


Streets of Bagamoyo
The Program was created in response to the obvious lack of quality, affordable educational opportunities in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. Most students attend government schools where their daily timetables are constantly shifting at the whim of teachers and headmasters. Most of their days are spent doing chores at school such as gardening and cleaning. Teachers are undereducated and underpaid and often do not attend classes themselves

Private schools in the area are only slightly better. Teachers use corporal punishment as a way to deal with all issues, large and small, and reinforce rote memorization, as opposed to real learning, as a way to rank high on federal examinations. There is no real arts or creative learning programs within the school and Management does not create high expectations for teachers which results in a dysfunctional learning atmosphere. 

Who are We?

The idea behind Uhuru Primary School was the brainchild of Michelle and Alladin Fuko who, 5 years ago, established the Uhuru Youth Center as a way to provide educational opportunities and skill building to street youth. Wanting to expand their support in the community, they envisioned the creation of a school that would provide the kind of education that is so greatly lacking in Bagamoyo.

Without funding or support, they decided to use their existing facilities at Uhuru Youth Center to run primary level classes. Friend and fellow Canadian ex-pat, Martha Richardson, committed her support by agreeing to teach one class while Michelle Fuko would teach the other.

Uhuru Youth Center

What is our focus?

The focus of the program is to create independent, global minded thinkers in our students. Unlike most schooling programs in Bagamoyo, we encourage creativity and critical thinking as well as incorporating hands on learning and problem solving.

The School operates strictly in English medium.

The proposed schedule will include as mandatory subjects:
  • English Language Studies  
  • French Language Studies (2nd language)
  • Reading and Writing
  • Mathematics
  • Sciences
  • Kiswahili Language Studies (2nd language)
  • Civics/ History
  • Social Studies/Geography
  • Health/Lifeskills
  • Arts and Crafts     
  • We will also have scheduled and organized sporting activities such as weekly swimming lessons, dancing, drumming and drama.
Classroom- Grades 1/2 (nearly there)

Main Hall- serves as the classroom for Grades 3/4

How things will run:

For the first year, we will run two split classes: Standard Levels 1 and 2, Standard Levels 3 and 4. Class sizes will be kept small, maximum of sixteen students per class room. 

Proposed Fees are as follows (all grades):

School fees, Uji, Hot Lunch: 35,000 TSH per month payable every three months;

(350,000 per year as there are 2 months of holidays) 
Registration fee: 35,000 TSH one time (includes school supply kit)
Sports fee: 5,000 TSH per month (includes swimming lessons once/month or more)
T-Shirt (for sports and field trips): 10,000 TSH one time 

Note: $1 USD = 1500 TSH 

School Times:      8am-3:30pm

Michelle Fuko: (Canadian Born, Residing in Tanzania): Teacher for Grades/Standard 1 and 2/ HeadMaster/Executive Director
Martha Richardson: (Canadian Born, Residing in Tanzania): Teacher for Grades/Standard 3 and 4

The outbuilding under construction- outbuilding has toilet and shower facilities, kitchen and stores
What are our Hopes for the Future?

Our vision is to create a seperate school in/around the town of Bagamoyo. We hope to acquire at least 15 acres of land and adequate funding to build a fully functional primary and nursery school. 

 How You Can Help?

We are looking for supporters/advocates who are interested in becoming involved in our project of building a seperate school. We need financial backing as well as volunteers, members for the Board of Trustees, local and overseas advisors etc... If you are interested and want to be a part of this project, please contact us by emailing Michelle. We are looking for help from all over the world!
The Future of Africa lies in the hands of these children