A log fire in Kent

30th June 2006 at 01:00
Elias Masatu and Joyce Lyimo sit by a log fire in a beamed Kent farmhouse, wrapped against the spring cold. Joyce Lyimo is a geography teacher at Tabora girls' school, a boarding school on the edge of the regional capital in Tanzania, and this is her first visit to England.

"I can see there are better classroom environments here, and if you can use modern teaching aids it eases the work of teachers," she says. "But we have a big shortage of materials; maybe four or more students have to share one book. The students here are also different. In our culture, when a teacher is speaking, you wait for him or her to finish. Joking between students and teachers is very rare.

"But the way lessons are presented has impressed me. I notice that teachers, before they start a new lesson, will review what they have done before, and I will take that idea back with me."

Elias Masatu is the assistant regional administrative secretary in the Tabora regional government and this is his third visit to England. "I am going into Cranbrook tomorrow to talk to the students about some of the development issues that countries such as ours face; at least, I will do my best, even though I am not a teacher.

"It is valuable for us to have this link. Cranbrook school helps with constructing mother-and-child clinics, and with primary schools; in some of our schools children are packed like sardines. And they have helped with wells, which is useful because we suffer a lot from not having safe and clean water.

"But they also stay in the villages and play games with the villagers and exchange ideas. They are always singing and laughing. I have been out and stayed with them when they were in a village breaking small rocks for the floor of a mother-and-child clinic, and I enjoyed it very much. I think you could stay with Cranbrook school for two months and never get bored."

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