(I know it looks like it is only Betty who is doing something in Africa, so Stan better put a post into the blog to justify not only his existence but the ongoing support of Global Outreach donors. The quality of the prose will undoubtedly suffer, but that’s the price of competing with the President of the James Joyce Society of Sarasota.)
The centerpiece of the activity I am engaging in during the stay in Tanzania this year is helping the local staff become self sustaining. Much of this will be in teaching them how to raise funds in country and around the world. But we will also be pursuing options of providing the support our schools need to develop and maintain their computer literacy programs and pursue the use of technology to improve the quality of secondary school education.
One way we hope to address the latter is through volunteerism, something not prevalent in a society where most people are struggling to make it through each day. But we are embarking on a program that simultaneously attacks another serious problem in Tanzania today, the real world performance of university graduates. While the country faces many of the same issues that US students face today in the shortage of available jobs, much of the problem in Tanzania is exacerbated by the lack of practical skills that graduates bring to the marketplace. The education system – from a lack of books and facilities to a teaching paradigm devoid of student interaction to a national examination structure based on memorization versus thinking – presents theoretical training from primary school through university. As a result, university graduates present employers the challenge of extended start up periods before they can function with a reasonable level of competency.
One of my first major activities has therefore been to form a program, which we call Community Outreach, with two of the Iringa based universities (University of Iringa and Ruaha University College.) It is designed to assist students combat this deficiency. Utilizing Service Learning and Internship concepts from US institutions, we are creating programs for students to work with Global Outreach on carefully selected projects that will allow them to develop experience and skills relevant to the workplace. This program differs from previous in-country internships in that students will have meaningful work, Global Outreach will provide attention and supervisions, and the university will provide guidance and assistance from instructors.
We have selected nine students from the universities to join the Community Outreach program. Students from the schools of ICT, Business, and Education will be involved in the pilot program. This is a WIN-WIN-WIN opportunity. The two school presidents are optimistic that we can help them address a recognized weakness across the Tanzanian education landscape. The students are excited about acquiring practical knowledge and putting some meat on their resumes to make them more competitive in the marketplace. And Global Outreach is not only delighted in expanding our vision of improving Tanzanian education, but hopes to realize useful work products from Community Outreach.
ICT students Happyness Sylvester (RUCO) and Francis Martin (UofI – not pictured) help Charles Kifwe (GO) with computer maintenance.
Francis Mwachombe (GO) and Education interns Deogratias Masepo (UofI) and Godias Majambo (RUCO) in background are studying teaching techniques at member schools. Volunteer Betty Muessle is here seen assisting computer literacy classes at Iringa Girls Secondary School.
ICT students Mbelwa Mchayungu (UofI) and Isaya Msemwa (RUCO) work with Grayson Msigala (GO) on automated office systems for Global Outreach and member schools.