Teaching in Tanzania (Blog 1)

I had very interesting two weeks working in Tanzania in November/December 2017. This was not the first time to go to this beautiful and charming country: In February 2017 I worked in Mtwara situated in South of Tanzania. In that time I taught local teachers with my colleague Arja. Our teaching was a part of Empowered Girls Speak Out –project organized by LiiKe  – Sports and Development -organization. The Education Through Sports (ETS) project was established in one the most remote areas in Tanzania like in Mtwara, Lindi and Singida. In these areas the national statistics showed very poor performance in primary schools, especially for girls. Since the projects were established, their national rankings have risen remarkably.

In November/December 2017 I went with my two Finnish colleagues to the University of Dar Es Salaam. LiiKe – Sports and Development was also organized this journey.  LiiKe is a Finnish non-governmental organization established in 2001. The main purpose of the organization is to develop the lives of children and youth living in developing countries through sport and health education. Sport is the main tool used in all the development cooperation projects that LiiKe establishes together with its counterparts. The organization has played a significant role in building and developing the education path to become a professional in the field of sport in Tanzania. Together with the University of Jyväskylä a Master Degree Programme is being established to the University of Dar Es Salaam.

What did I learn in Tanzania while teaching local young physical education students? Our common spoken language was English. The students´ first language was Swahili, which is a Bantu language. Although English is generally used in schools, it was not easy to everyone to understand instructions and teaching in English. Some students were quite timid to speak English, and they told that they are afraid of doing mistakes. I also noticed that my English; words, expressions and pronunciation differed from local way to speak. Fortunately, in physical education it is possible to show movements and games through bodily expression, and this helped a lot of our common understanding.

During two weeks we had some memorable and even fun situations while teaching because of environment related expressions. My colleague spoke about “a hamburger model in physical education”. Some students were confused, because they didn´t know, what is a hamburger. There are some restaurants in Dar Es Salaam, where it is possible to eat hamburgers. However, many students come from countryside, and they are not familiar with this kind of food. In addition, expressions like “ice breaker” or “tip of the iceberg” were not familiar. It is really interesting to try to adopt these kinds of expressions to different environment, where the sun is much more present than ice!

-Mariana Siljamäki-