TEMBO believes in the power of education and the ways in which education can transform communities. Working with people of all ages in Longido District, TEMBO strives to support informal education opportunities including after school learning opportunities, life skills classes for primary and secondary school students and adult literacy.
‘There is no money to send Sara to secondary school, even though she loves school and is doing well. To make it worse, most of her family thinks that girls should stay at home to cook and clean. But with the help of her school friends and some inspiration from a book, Sara manages to change all this.’ [Excerpt from Sara]
The importance of education is just one of many themes discussed by adolescent children attending the SARA and JUMA program offered by TEMBO. Based on the printed materials developed as part of the Sara Communication Initiative for sub-Saharan Africa, the SARA and JUMA program is held weekly in primary schools in and around Longido. Mary Laiser, our Community Facilitator, has created a comprehensive curriculum focusing on the needs of local adolescents: puberty, health and hygiene, importance of education, HIV/AIDS and female genital mutilation. Classes are held for boys and girls in Standard 6 once a week at the end of the school day. Using dance, music and drama, Mary has the students fully engaged in topics relevant to their world and the community.
TEMBO works in partnership with Longido Secondary School to coordinate a FEMA club open to all secondary schools. Students meet outside of the classroom – literally as they gather under a large tree – to discuss such issues as early pregnancy, sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS. Using drama and debate, students actively engage in difficult discussions in a positive and supportive learning environment facilitated by TEMBO’s Community Facilitator, Mary Laiser, and teachers from Longido Secondary School.
Carrying bags filled with flash cards, books and teaching materials, staff from the Longido District Learning Centre make weekly visits to local nursery and primary schools in Longido District. Working in partnership with the local teachers, they read stories to the children in Swahili and/or English and introduce the alphabet or numbers through song and dance. The children enthusiastically look forward to these lessons given the limited access to reading or other materials in Tanzanian primary schools.
Each week, adults in three villages (Kimikouwa, Oldorko and Ranch) gather under a tree close to a traditional Maasai bomas for a Swahili literacy lesson. These lessons are offered to groups of 25-30 individuals, the majority of whom are women with no formal schooling. Participants in the classes have limited exposure to Swahili given that the language of communication in the home and village is Maasai. The adult literacy program is the first time they have been in a learning environment, held a pencil or spent time looking at printed material. Together, they laugh at the images they make on the chalk boards as they make an effort to write a-e-i-o-u.
Each adult literacy lesson includes a life skills class for women where our Community Facilitator, Mary Laiser, explores topics including healthy eating during pregnancy, the importance of girls’ education and female genital mutilation. Using drama and authentic teaching materials, Mary creates a dynamic and engaged informal learning environment.
After 3 years, TEMBO celebrates with the women in a colourful graduation ceremony. The women recognize that they can now write their name, count in Swahili and “tell the doctor where it hurts because I know the name of body parts.”