As we approach half term here (1 week today). I thought I’d reflect back on the first term and the differences between being here in a Tanzanian International School and a British Comprehensive.
One big change is the length of the term. We started back with students on the 1st September (having had INSET on 28th -29th August) but Term ends for us on the 12th December giving us a three-week Christmas Break (one less than the school has had in earlier years!).
Half Terms are a week here except in May where it is a long weekend. Easter is three weeks and the school breaks up for the Summer at the start of July.
The day starts early. I am in registration from 7:55am and lessons start at 8:15. The school day ends at 3:15 but either a club or a meeting runs until 4:30.
In the UK it was 8:30 until either 2:50 or 3:45 with meetings thereafter.
Here there are 7 x 50 mins lessons rather than 5 x 65 mins. I used to work on a split site meaning there was a 20 min break after each lesson – here there is a 20 min break between lessons 3 and 4.
The school runs from age 4 to 18 and is divided into two departments Primary (composed of Early Years and Juniors) and Secondary.
Juniors and Secondary share a site, whilst Early Years is located a quarter of a mile down the somewhat rutted road.
The school roll is small . The entirety of the school is less than one year group at my old school at less than 300. It has certainly made it easy to
learn names. You get to know the students well here. Classes are small and range (for me) from 3 in year 13 to 13 in year 9.
Behaviour is generally very good and most students are much more motivated as a rule. Of course there are exceptions, as in every school, but in general the worst student here is no worse than average in the UK. Students come from a variety of cultures. There are a number of expatriates from a variety of European and North American countries (Wazungu). There are Omani Arabs, expatriate Indians (Wahindi) along with Tanzanian Nationals. A mixture of Moslems, Christians and Hindus.
There is a small staff. The secondary team (a mix of Tanzanian and British with others from Europe and Australia) is also small. I am the only full time ICT teacher, assisted by two other colleagues who deliver ICT as part of a range of teaching subjects. In my old school I led a team of 5 ICT colleagues here my faculty includes Business Studies and Economics and comprises 4.
In my old school I taught years 7- 13 and saw 13 classes per week (about 340 students). Here I teach from year 9-13 and see 6 classes each week, from between 2 and 6 lessons per week (about 50 students).
All in all there’s much less marking , but a lot more preparation, but the balance is about right.
Living on a compound means that socialising with colleagues is much more common than in the UK. Our families socialise too and we are making good friendships.
Each week there are opportunities to socialise – I tend to go to the weekly Boys Night – a chance for the male colleagues to share a meal and a beer or two. There’s an occasional Ladies Night and a Weekly Bridge Club. We had a walk to Dancing Rocks in the first week and another walk is planned on Sunday.
The site is compact and build on many levels. The heat here is such that doors tend to remain open, windows are slatted and ceiling fans circulate the warm air. My ICT room is heated by additional computers – so it’s always warm – no change there then. The wildlife is definitely different. Lizards roam the playground and each Thursday we are visited by a troop of Vervet Monkeys.
Life is certainly different here and I’m not regretting any part of the move.