Our Tanzanian Project and Blog

During October 2019 Miss Ludlow and Miss Merrick will be visiting Changa English Medium School in Tanzania, one of the poorest countries in the world. The school has 1,030 children, 33 teachers, 60 to 70 in a class. This link will support our curriculum and help children develop a rich understanding of different cultures, customs and traditions. The two schools work on joint curriculum projects.

Tanzania Part 6 (25th October 2019)

Today has been our last day in Changa before we start preparing for our return journey back to England. We woke up again to heavy rain… but still extremely warm. Our headteacher Madame Mussa had taken us to her tailor previously in the week to be measured for an African dress – and today was the day we wore it to school. We had so many comments about how fabulous we looked. Edina explained to us that there would be less children today because of the rain – she explained it would be difficult for some of the children to walk on the roads due to flooding.

We visited every class again today, taking pencils and sharpeners to all the children. They were thrilled with their gifts. We were also presented with many letters, written by the children, to bring home to Changa’s ‘Upton friends’.

On Fridays all of the schools close at lunchtime. As there is such a large Muslim community, the afternoon is an opportunity for these children to pray. Once the children had returned to their homes, we visited the local market to buy rice, tomatoes, carrots, onions and peas. The headteachers had planned an African cooking session for us – we learned how to correctly crack a coconut then grate and squeeze it for milk, sieve rice to remove husks and then cook it in the milk covered with a lid of charcoal. It was delicious! We chose not to eat the fish heads that had been cooked to accompany the rice and vegetables… but many of the other teachers did and said they were also very tasty.

We have had an amazing week and are really looking forward to sharing everything with you all, planning for the future and welcoming the Tanzanian staff to Upton in the summer!

Hope you all have a lovely half term!

Tanzania Part 5 (24th October 2019)

This morning for breakfast we were joined by some special guests – monkeys. Although it is amazing to have wildlife join you for breakfast not so much when they try to steal your mango, so the staff came out with their catapults to warn them off. 

We were due to go to school at 7.30 this morning to watch the school assembly however it has been raining on and off all through the night and continued through the day so assembly was cancelled. Although it rains very heavily it is still very humid and dries up very quickly afterwards. When we arrived it was still raining heavily, so one of the pupils collected an umbrella and escorted us to the office one by one. The children were still finishing their cleaning duties for the morning, we felt extremely guilty about making their floor dirty but they were happy to see us and laughed with us as they cleaned it again – still with a smile across their faces. 

Our first job of the day was to visit the 6 classes we did not get to visit yesterday standards 4, 5 and 6 to show them photos, sing with them and share more of the children’s letters. During these visits we also received demonstrations from the older children on how to find the square root of a 6 digit number – not a calculator in sight! 

After finishing our visits we went back to the headteacher’s office to join her for breakfast a selection of food prepared with egg, beans and potatoes as well as sweet tea. The teachers at Changa were keen to take us to visit the Amboni Caves so whilst they prepared snacks we went joined the children on the field for playtime and shared bubbles with them, which they thoroughly enjoyed. The minibus was packed ready to go so all 23 of us squeezed on a 10 seater bus. All of them were teachers, we are still unsure who taught the children while we were all out! It was an off-road experience getting to the caves but the minibus survived. The volunteer guide gave us a very interesting tour around the caves and once we had reached the end of the tour we returned to the mini bus and went back to school. 

Once we arrived back it was lunch, the kitchen staff had cooked us some chips with ketchup. We thought it would be very interesting for our children at Upton to receive a video tour of  the school so they can compare it to Upton. The videos we took will be shown to all the pupils after half term.  We then spent some time outside with the children while they ate their lunch and played football – one ball between 40 children. Once the children has returned to class for their afternoon lessons we joined the headteacher as she went to purchase some equipment from the stationary shop. 

During the trip to the stationery shop we stopped at a local market and Edina showed us and named some unusual fruits and vegetables that are local delicacies. We took photos of these to show the children at Upton and compare to our local fruit and vegetables. 

It is very sad to think that tomorrow will be out last day at Changa, however we have many exciting activities planned in order to build a strong relationship of friendship between two schools in two different continents across the globe. We have realised during this week just how lucky children in England are and the quality of education that they receive. Although they have very little here, we have learned so much from the staff and children, they have amazed us with their happiness, laughter and kindness. We have been made to feel extremely welcome and we have made many new friends. This is definitely the start of something beautiful!


Tanzania Part 4 (23rd October 2019)

Early start again at 6.30 and it was damp outside as it had rained last night. However, it was still warm and humid. After breakfast we were picked up at 8am on the dot to do our third day at Changa English Medium Primary School. Today we wanted to visit every class to give them the letters written by our pupils from Upton and show them pictures of our school. Once we arrived at school, we decided to start at pre standard (Reception/ Year 1). We shared our school photos, gave out letters and the children sang some songs to us. We then continued to do this as we worked our way up to standard 1 (Year 2/ Year 3). This morning we managed to visit 6 classes and in our final class we taught them some English songs including Old Macdonald, dingle dangle scarecrow and Bungalow. 

By now it was breakfast and the children went out and collected their porridge which all the children receive. We joined the sports teacher ( Petro Kambaulya) for breakfast in the heads office. So at 10am in the morning we were eating rice, vegetables, fruit and curry, a meal equivalent to an evening meal in the UK. A teachers salary here is around £100 a month. Although the cost of living is less here, he explains a majority of his money pays for his children to attend school in a different part of Africa to give them a better start in life. 

Year 3 at Upton had been learning to count to 10 in Swahili, so we recorded a video of a child counting to ten in Swahili to share with them. Another visit to the kitchen where we saw lunch being prepared:             macandi. Wednesday is a special bean day ( a mixture of beans and maize) as other days they just have rice. On one of the fires they had Casava ( a type of banana) which children can buy for 100 shillings if they want it. 

After breakfast we were invited to join some of the children on a visit to another school for a sporting event at the school linked with Somers Park. Here they performed their gymnastics and took part in some rugby and football activities. During our visit we were taken round the school – every child was smiling, excited to see us and wanted to sing… which they did. Somers Park have been linked for several years and it was great to see the impact that they have had – the school now has an outside kitchen, a new corrugated roof, an oven and a sewing room for teaching skills. Trees funded by the school have now grown to full height to provide shade. We are excited about the impact we can have on another Tanga school.

Once we arrived back at school we visited 3 further classes to share our pictures and letters. It’s been another fantastic day of smiling, laughing, singing and sharing. Over half of the school have received their letter from their Upton friend and tomorrow we will complete this by visiting the remaining 6 classes – standards 4, 5 and 6.

We would like to organise a ‘Tanga day’ at Upton, where we hope to complete a whole day in Changa style where we can share what we have found out, what we have learned and ideas for how we can strengthen our link and support the school further…. watch this space… we are already in the planning stage!!!!

Tanzania Part 3 (22nd October 2019)

We started the morning by spending some time in a standard 1 class (around year 2). The children were revising Maths looking at shape, number sequences, place value – tens and ones and column addition. Some of the children were sat on the floor as there was not enough desk room. The teacher asked us if we would help mark the work, as we went around the classroom we marked books and supported children with their learning. The teacher said the children were really excited for us to mark their books. We asked about how the children get their equipment and the teacher explained they are required to purchase their own books and stationery. 

After that we were collected to go to Majani Mapana Primary School where we met up with all the link schools and their Tanzanian friends. This was to attend a conference held by the British council. During the morning, we worked in five mixed groups on a variety of activities and presentations – the key message that came from this – the more you change your activity in class the more leaders you will develop as everyone has different strengths. 
We learned different types of passas which we will share with you on our return. 

Following the conference we shared a lunch of chipati, cooked banana, samosas and vegetables before visiting the enterprise stalls set up by children from some of the link schools. We found out how to make charcoal blocks from paper, how to make paper bags, purchased jewellery made by pupils and experienced another amazing performance by children singing, dancing and drumming. 

Before we returned to the hotel the headteacher took us to the market to buy some African fabrics which we hope to use in school.

The headteacher kindly invited us out for dinner with her wonderful staff, lots of laughs and talking about Tanzania and England.


Tanzania Part 2 (21st October 2019)

An exciting day today as we visited our school for the first time. Our school is the Changa English Medium Primary School which has 1064 pupils! We were picked up at 8am and had to go to the Tanga Council Office to be approved to visit our school. After that, we were taken to our school to meet all the pupils and staff.

The headteacher introduced us to some of her teachers, who then joined us for a tour of the school. We visited each class and received a huge welcome as we introduced ourselves in Swahili. Every class had prepared a song for us… some sung head, shoulders, knees and toes…. others sang the family song…one class even sang their own song with lyrics that thanked Upton Upon Severn for bringing friends to them. It was amazing!! Every class – every child – huge smile!! During our tour we also visited the school toilets – really not enough for over 1000 children and today they had no water! Children collected water using buckets and carried it into school. We also met the catering staff – some of whom were peeling beans on the floor in the sunshine, others were in the kitchen (a term used very loosely) cooking the breakfast porridge and potato for lunch.

Following this we were entertained in the most amazing, heart warming, emotional way with a display of drumming, gymnastics, singing and dancing. It is very hard to put into words how unbelievable this was – 1000+ children singing to us in the sunshine, drums beating in the background, children somersaulting off rocks or over them – it is impossible to put into words the talent and enthusiasm that we saw from every child.

Next, we were invited to the presentation room where individual children talked to us about the urinary system, a balanced diet, plants, timetables, perimeter and telling the time. They shared a huge wealth of knowledge with us and we learnt many new facts from this too! In every class there is a sign reminding pupils to speak in English – their presentations used only the English language and at times very technical vocabulary.

Next, breakfast with the staff – which included bread and eggs. One member of staff talked about the history of the school. After we both sang ‘head, shoulders, knees and toes’ in English – at the request of one of the teachers – he led the staff in the Swahili version!

During the afternoon we briefly visited some of the rooms to watch some lessons, more about this during the week when we have spent more time in classes. Lunch followed – beef, African style chips and watermelon.

Later in the afternoon we were taken by our headteacher, to be measured up for some African dresses -the most amazing fabric will be turned into beautiful dresses, all in a tiny porch, with a manual sewing machine …. in just a couple of days. We are hoping to wear them to school on Friday.

To finish the day, our headteacher very kindly took us to her home for dinner. We met her team of helpers who had very kindly prepared a meal for us, they have been great at considering our preference not to eat meat, so we enjoyed plantains, peas and chapatis – which had been cooked on the fire outside. This was followed by bananas and watermelon. Edina showed us her 200 chickens and cows that she gets milk from. She shared her family photos and we enjoyed a conversation about growing food in England. We have already started thinking about the experiences we would like to provide to Edina and her assistant head when they visit in June – strawberry picking, afternoon tea, fish and chips by the river, bell boating and toasting marshmallows on the forest school fire are all on the list!

We would very much like our children to present a jaw dropping welcome show that we received! So thinking caps on children, staff and adults.

Habari ya jioni ( good evening! )

Tanzania Part 1 (20th October 2019)

We set off at 11.30 on Friday morning and finally arrived in Tanga at 3pm Sunday afternoon, we spent 14 hours in the sky, 3 take offs, 3 landings an overnight stop in Qatar and a quick refuel in Kilimanjaro.  

We were welcomed by our headteacher hosts at the airport and made our way to the Kurisini Hostel for one night stay – the journey was a little mad – cars, lorries, bikes everywhere – very few headlights… many lanes that just seemed to blend into one another! We were quite relieved about only having one night here – it was very basic, very humid and many mosquitos! 

Early start today – leaving at 8am to make our coach journey to Tanga. The journey was amazing – so many sights, we went through many villages and towns… we saw monkeys, goats, cows and chickens. The town roads were lined with wooden stalls selling beds to bananas to shoes to watermelons – even some chickens. There were people everywhere and motorbikes everywhere. Women carrying logs and water on their heads. If the bus stopped, people would run to the windows trying to sell you things – buckets of fruit, nuts and water. We stopped for a couple of toilet breaks – holes in the floor! And at one of these Miss Ludlow tried sugar cane – you had to suck the juice out and chew the rest, before spitting it out -it was delicious! We went through many villages – people sat outside, children playing, lines of washing drying, cooking pots, goats and chickens roaming -the villages were far greener but still dusty.

We arrived at Tanga at 3 pm and as we got off the coach we were greeted by many more teachers, it was such a great moment… they were so friendly and obviously pleased that we had finally arrived. Once checked in to the Mkonge hotel  (a million times better than the previous evening!) we were taken out by our Tanazanian friends for food -plenty of rice, fish, cabbage, hot tomato sauce, plantain, watermelon and banana – before walking back to the hotel. On the way we met two more teachers who teach at Changa.

The headteacher is collecting us at 8 am tomorrow, we are heading to the council office first, to be officially accepted to visit the region and then into school to meet the staff and pupils. Edina also mentioned a visit to the market to buy some fruit.