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Well a miracle has occurred.  I finally have solved the problems with the DST website.  I’ve created a brand new site. Many apologies for the delay.

Take a look….dosciencetanzania.org.

 

It’s August again and I’ve been back for 3 weeks.  We had a workshop which was attended by 13 teachers but mostly from one school so I was feeling a little discouraged.  I’ve been in to speak with the Education Officer of the Municipal Council and had an encouraging meeting with him.  He is very familiar with Do Science and supports our efforts completely.

I learned that the money lacking from school fees IS  being supplemented by the government but this year things are a bit disorganized since it is the first year of the new financial structure.  He told me he will be meeting with the Head Teachers in August and that he will address the topic of Do Science and suggest that they schools should be planning for their teachers to attend in the 2017 year.  This means that there is money in the budget and agreed that it was a great way for teachers to be fulfilling their requirement to continue to develop professionally.  I am preparing a package for him to present to the schools including a poster and some reminder calendars.

I’ve been more organized this year with my scholarships and have them mostly completed.  Although we had less money for scholarships this year we were able to give 17 awards since most only need money for food and not school fees.  There are some that still have prior debts to pay and a few that are in college, where the fees are quite high.  2,250,000 tsh per year which is about $1500.

The weather is wonderful and the maize crop is ready for harvest.  The town is growing up and I see new progress every time I come.  The dust, however, is something that will never be resolved.  I hope some day to pave my yard with stones.

Sorry for the hot summer you are having and for the awful things in the world that are happening.  I feel very lucky.

DST Calendar Poster

2017 Calendars2017 Calendar Back Side

I was excited to hear about the new governments plans to support education by reducing fees for students.  Sadly this has now had a huge impact on our DST workshop for this month.

Yesterday only one teacher showed up for the session.  Word has it that school budgets are suffering and not only is there no money to provide stipends for teachers to attend the workshops but some schools are short of money for lunches as well.  Teachers are hesitant to spend their own money getting to the workshops only to turn around and improve the programs for the schools.  Understandably they are a bit angry.  Not sure how this may or may not affect their paycheques.  I haven’t heard anything about that but I would not be surprised if this causes delays in being paid.

Hopefully this will all be resolved as the government becomes apprised of the implications of their new “no school fees” for students policy.  Undoubtedly they will have to subsidize the schools for this new hole in their budgets.

I’ll need to ponder this a bit before deciding how to proceed.

(On a side note, January’s workshop was cancelled as Robert was sent way far out of town to help with a training program and Elizabeth’s mother died and she was attending to funeral arrangements and family business.  All teachers were appropriately notified in advance….Condolences and support were sent to Elizabeth and her family on behalf of DST and Deo was able to help out by providing transportation to the funeral.)

 

I visited Moshi at Christmas and was pleased to host a small party for my present and former workshop leaders.  We used our new outdoor brick bar-b-q to cook up some skewers of beef which we paired up with chips and salad.  I had brought a fruit cake from home which was new to everyone.  Not really sure if anyone liked it but they were all polite and Bertha served each person as is customary, going around and saying a nice thing about each one and offering them a bite of cake.  SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

We discussed plans and set dates for the workshops in 2016.  I am happy that Elizabeth and Robert agreed to continue to run them.

 

 

 

My friend Deo told me today that the newly elected President, John Magufuli has announced that tuition fees for government schools will be eliminated for students up to Form IV level beginning in January 2016.

Previously only elementary school up to standard 7 was free from tuition.  That’s 4 years of high school education that will now be available to all Tanzanian children.  Only A levels (Form V and VI) will have to pay tuition.  This means that Do Science can concentrate on supporting student who plan to continue on to University.

There is reference to the new plan in this article.

http://www.nation.co.ke/news/africa/Magufuli-bans-foreign-travels-for-senior-government-officials/-/1066/2948070/-/12p5vlsz/-/index.html

I received this beautiful, unsolicited letter from the Head Teacher of Reginald Mengi Secondary School in Moshi.  I thought I’d share it.  Click on ‘Nice Letter’.

Nice Letter

I was in Moshi July/Aug to conduct the end of year workshop and implement the scholarships.  We had a special guest at the workshop.  My father came to visit and was able to join in and see first hand what Do Science is.  He said how much he enjoyed meeting the local teachers and hearing about their work.

IMG_2063I took this opportunity to present the visit I made to SNOLab last November.  I was lucky enough to win a teaching award and was invited to spend a week underground with the scientists in Sudbury who are carrying out experiments on particle physics.  I wanted to share this with my Tanzanian friends to allow them to learn about some of the cutting edge research that is going on so that they can subsequently motivate students to study science.  The Tanzanian curriculum is very content based and leaves little time to learn about current experiments in science.

I presented 15 student scholarships to students from 4 different schools.  Each received a $100 payment towards their school fees, a pair of shoes, a school bag and a solar light.  I awarded the Mahmoud Eid scholarship to a very bright and outgoing you boy from Msaranga School.

IMG_2352IMG_2348

My Dad and I visited Reginald Mengi School to interview the scholarship applicants.  The first photo shows the two cooks at the school.  They have many mouths to feed at school lunch each day.  You can see the pots are very big.  I wish we had uniforms at my school here in Ottawa.

In August I presented 15 student scholarships to students from 4 different schools.  Each received a $100 payment towards their school fees, a pair of shoes, a school bag and a solar light.  I awarded the Mahmoud Eid scholarship to a very bright and outgoing you boy from Msaranga School (final photo below).

Scholarsips 2015

IMG_2343While we were at Reginald Mengi, these two girls dropped by to visit.  They are past recipients of DST scholarships and are now packing up to go off to study A levels.  This will be at boarding school.  In Tanzania, the government reviews all the applicants and tells you were you will go to school.  I don’t think there is much choice.  They were quite excited.

I’m learning how to maneuver the bank lines to deposit the school fees, however I still spent over an hour in a line that never went anywhere.  It seems they were having some technical difficulties with their computers.

Another year of workshops has  completed and we are happy that the head teachers are supporting the teachers to attend the workshops.  I gave a survey and found that they were receiving between 10,000 and 30,000 Tanzanian shillings per teacher, compared to the 10,000 tsh that I paid them up to last year.  I’ll have to work on approaching some of the remaining schools that haven’t bought in yet.  Our workshop in July had 20 teachers in attendance.

 

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The third workshop for 2015 was held today.  The attendance was down in February to 15 but we are happy to report that this month it is up to over 20 teachers which is positive.  The teachers are benefitting from this collaboration.  I have yet to hear whether schools are sending their teachers and whether any financial support has been offered up but I’m happy about the attendance.

Here are a few photos from today’s activities.  Today they are working on Classification, Gravitational Field Strength, Refraction and production of Oxygen gas.

SAM_3087 SAM_3100SAM_3086

I was in Moshi this past December and as we move into year five, we have some big changes to the workshop program.

We have changed the financial structure of the workshops.  Do Science is unable to continue to support the teachers with the monthly workshop stipend as we have over the last three year.  I have met with the Municipal Council Education Director’s office and they have agreed to support my request that Head Teachers offer this support to their own teachers in order to attend the workshops.  Now that Do Science is well known to everyone and that the benefits have been demonstrated I feel that this is a reasonable request and we will see how this plays out.  I have yet to confirm whether my letter has been forwarded with this support by the Municipal Council.  If the stipend is not offered then this may result in a slight decrease in participation.  We are interested to see exactly how many teachers continue to participate.

For two years now, Madame Bertha Msaki has headed up our local Do Science executive.  She has organized the workshops and ensured that all has run smoothly.  Do Science has relied on her and she has done a fantastic job.  I arrived to find out that Bertha has accepted a new job and has left teaching altogether.  While sad for students and for Do Science, this is good for Bertha.  She told me that it is partially due to her experience managing the Do Science workshops that she got a position with the municipal council business department.  We thank Bertha for her years of service to Do Science and wish her well as her career takes a turn in a new direction.

While we will miss Bertha immensely, we hold on tightly to Mr. Robert Bright and Elizabeth Tarimo.  Robert will head up the team and both he and Elizabeth have a broad knowledge base covering all three panels and we are relieved that they have agreed to continue with Do Science and confident that they will continue to serve well.  As the year gets underway and we see how the new financial structuring works out we may increase the number of leaders on the executive once again.

The first workshop is going forward this Monday and I look forward to their reports.

Happy New Year….Do Science Year Five!

Mohamed CostaThis year we awarded 13 Moshi students with scholarships to pay their school fees.  The selection is a challenge since there are so many students in need and it is difficult to differentiate. 

I awarded Mohamed Costa with the Mahmoud Eid award with no hesitation.  He is a student who actually failed out of Form IV two years ago.  In Tanzania there are no second chances.  If you fail then you are not allowed to re-enter a government school.  Mohamed was out of school for 1.5 years and realized what he needed to do in order to have a good life.  The only option for him was to apply to a private school which he did, even though he had no idea how he would pay the very high fees which are almost 10 times those of the government school.  Although Mohamed has no financial support nor encouragement from his family he is determined to get an education.  I was impressed by the confidence he showed in his firm handshake and his loud speaking voice.  He has clear goals and a determination which is evident as he explains his situation.  He definitely has the Mahmoud smile and I am confident that he will find a way to pay the rest of his fees to continue with his education.

The other scholarship recipients are…Amina Mshana, Amina Athumani, Brenda Neressa, Deogratious Donald, Leah Mgaya, Jacob Moshi, Hamisi Selenani, Mary Membe, Rehema Mbwambo, Veronica Chombo, Victor Masamora, Jasmini Ramadhan and Eliya Simgani.

Amina MshanaAmina AthumaniBrenda Ngeressa Deogratious Donald Hamisi Selenani Jacob Moshi Leah Mgaya Mary Membe Rehema Mbwambo Veronica Chombo Victor MasamoraJasmini2Eliya Simbani2

One a side note….remember in the old days, standing in line at the bank?  I took a number at the bank in Moshi before 1pm and got served at 5:30pm.  Meanwhile I stepped out to do some business at a different bank, returning to be told I was expected to sit in the bank for those 4.5 hours.  Paying the school fees is an agonizing chore and once it’s done you feel a sense not unlike having climbed the mountain.  So next time your internet provider is running slow or you have to wait in line to return something in a store….think back to when everything was done by hand and remember it could be much worse.  Yes they have computers in the banks but somehow the number of people all paying fees and doing banking in person is more than this bank can handle….done for another year.

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