Last month, LBW Trust Director and Education Committee Chair Penny Verdich and LBW Trust Chair David Vaux visited our projects in Tanzania and Kenya to meet with directors, staff and beneficiaries, and to observe the impact that our support is having on local communities.
In Tanzania, the LBW Trust supports the work of Sydney-based charity So They Can, which provides ongoing support to Mamire Teachers Training College and infrastructure and community support to 26 schools that surround the college as well as professional learning to their teachers. In 2018, Mamire was ranked as the top teachers' training college in Tanzania.
In Kenya, the LBW Trust is supporting two cohorts of young women to attend university in partnership with Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya. Over 40 students are currently studying in Kenya and 3 are studying in Australia.
You can read more below from both David and Penny on their visits.
David Vaux, reporting from So They Can in Tanzania and Kakenya Center for Excellence in Kenya:
"In Tanzania, I travelled to Babati, where So They Can's operations are based. Babati is a reasonably sized town in central, rural Tanzania. So They Can’s Mamire Teachers Training College is based about 10 km out of town. So They Can has 26 primary schools and 5 high schools that it is supporting in the region as well. Both the College and Schools are owned by the Government, but So They Can have built infrastructure and introduced a range of programs to improve the quality of teaching and to improve the education ecosystem.
I met 6 interns and 4 Mamire teachers at Kwaraa Primary School, including Asia Rashid Salimu. She is full of character, fun and energy and topped her national year. Undoubtedly she will become a leading educator in Tanzania. As Asia said, “I’m so proud to have been an intern and now a teacher preparing leaders."
We then travelled up to Arusha near Kilimanjaro to meet the So They Can Kenyan and Tanzanian teams for a strategy conference focused on the introduction of a new Monitoring Learning and Evaluation program. Essentially the program is about measuring not just outputs, but on measuring impact, which includes putting in place an Alumni engagement and tracking system. The engagement of the staff members was excellent, and the quality of the presentations was impressive.
In Kenya, I met with Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya along with six young women from the first cohort of students the LBW Trust is supporting (they are now in year 2 of university in Nairobi) and three young women from the second cohort (they have just started university). All the women are doing well, are enjoying the university experience, and are valuing their interaction with their Australian mentors. As I mentioned to the them, they are breaking down barriers, and the tough times they face and endure will mean that the next generation of girls - their children - will find it easier to stay at school and go to university. They are building a pathway for future generations to follow.
Dr. Ntaiya is continuing work on building a sustainable education ecosystem in the Enoosaen area of rural western Kenya. She has recently opened a new high school with twenty year 10 and thirty-two year 9 students learning in two buildings. She is now building the dormitories, IT centre, science lab, and, in time, sports facilities. She is also exploring the opportunity to build a youth health centre and expand health and sex education programs to improve knowledge among younger students and attempt to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies, which has resulted in higher rates of school drop-outs among teenagers.
Finally, I met Cynthia Naiyoma Lasoi, who has just started her degree in nursing. She is a standout student - obviously bright and curious with a mature, serious nature. She is very grateful for the support she has received from the LBW Trust, which she has expressed in the video below."
Penny Verdich, reporting from So They Can in Tanzania:
"As the Education Director on the Board of the LBW Trust and as a Senior Consultant and Coach for Growth Coaching International, this was my third trip to Tanzania in two years. All trips have been extremely inspiring and gratifying but on this, my third trip, I could really see the differences that So They Can is making, both through the support they are providing for Mamire Teachers’ Training College and through the professional learning and infrastructure support provided to the schools. Growth Coaching International supports the cost of me making the trip so that while I am there I run coach training sessions for teachers and Strategic Planning sessions for the So They Can Tanzanian team. I am therefore able to see, at close hand, the difference that LBW Trust support is making.
A highlight of this year’s trip was a visit to two of the Tanzanian schools where the LBW Trust funds teaching interns. The Tanzanian government takes some time to appoint graduate teachers, so, in order to help them both to retain their training and to make a difference to the schools, the Trust provides a stipend that enables them to effectively begin their teaching career. These interns have also benefitted from the single lesson practice sessions also funded by the LBW Trust.
Delfina Rueben, So They Can's Education Director for Tanzania, commented on several major improvements. The appointment of the interns has meant that class sizes are reduced (down from 90 to 60) and the professional learning that So They Can is providing has made a real and tangible difference. This professional learning covers literacy and numeracy and focuses on ways to engage students, not too different to professional learning everywhere!
I was also able to see some of the other forms of impact So They Can has had. They provide infrastructure support to Mamire Teachers Training College, which includes wifi; it’s the only teachers college in Tanzania with wifi! So They Can also supports the 26 schools surrounding the college through the supply of water tanks, feeding programs and a whole host of other programs, including Professional Learning.
Running workshops with So They Can enabled me to experience the way that it is aiming for sustainability of all the programs it runs. Its goal is to create an environment where schools succeed on a range of measures and are able to continue to thrive with ongoing support but not the ‘hand holding’ that may have once been necessary. This aim is one that the LBW Trust holds dear. We want our support to eventually be surpassed by a sustainable local system.
I hope that I can return to Tanzania next year to run more workshops but more importantly to train the Tanzanian staff to run the programs that I run, ensuring sustainability of my contribution."