In 2012 So They Can began investigating how we could improve the quality of primary education in the Babati district of Tanzania. Like many rural areas of Tanzania the standard of education in the district is very poor with only 40% of primary school children making the transition to secondary school. The result is that these children are stuck in a life of subsistence farming, unable to break free of the poverty cycle.
We decided to focus on two key initiatives; (1) reducing the high level of teacher deficits in the district’s primary schools and (2) working with those schools to upskill existing teachers, improve teaching resources and introduce feeding programs to address high levels of malnutrition through our Educational Collaborative.
To reduce teacher deficits we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Tanzanian Government committing to the creation of the Mamire Teachers’ College that now produces exemplary teachers for deployment into the district’s primary schools.
Like Aberdare Ranges Primary School in Kenya, the College is a private/public partnership between So They Can and the Tanzanian Government managed by a Board of Management on which the Government, community leaders and So They Can sit. Also like Kenya it is the first of its kind for the Tanzanian Government. We believe that by partnering with the Tanzanian Government and the community we are able to work within the public education system and create sustainable and scalable change from within. We believe that this has the potential for much greater long-term development than if we worked in the private sector.
The College opened its doors in October 2014 to students from the Babati district. These students undergo a comprehensive 2 year teaching course that will promote modern classroom teaching methodologies not currently used in Tanzanian schools. Our aim is to not only improve the teaching ratios in the local schools to 1 teacher to 45 students, but to also improve the quality of teachers being deployed. On graduation, they are placed into the district’s primary schools that have had the benefit of the Educational Collaborative. This ensures that the new teachers are placed into schools that have adequate resources and rich teaching environments and promotes the concept of teachers being placed back into their own communities.
The new teachers deployed into the schools will be paid by the Tanzanian Government increasing the flow of funds to the local economy and empowering communities via education. Our first graduation class in the second half of 2016 saw 79 successful graduates complete the course.
As with all our projects we are committed to vigorous monitoring and evaluation to ensure that the College provides quality education and produces exemplary teachers skilled in modern classroom methodologies. Our vision is to scale up the project by creating a model primary teachers’ training college that can be used to support and develop other public primary teachers’ training colleges throughout Tanzania.