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Working with Teachers in Zanzibar

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Education Development Center's (EDC) interactive radio- instruction project will reach 10,000 children

Many children living on the islands of Zanzibar do not benefit from schooling. There are several reasons: extreme poverty, cultural beliefs that limit girls' participation, distance from schools, and lack of early learning experiences that prepare children to succeed are some of the most important. To address this situation, EDC is working with the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training to implement Radio Instruction to Strengthen Education (RISE)—a USAID-funded initiative that will increase the learning and participation of disadvantaged children in preschool, first, and second grades. More than 10,000 children in Zanzibar will have access to the programs that will be broadcast on shortwave frequencies and heard through wind-up (dynamo) radios.

Hanifa Soud Aman is a Zanzibari primary school teacher who experienced, firsthand, how education can change lives. Her mother was a schoolteacher who raised eight children singlehandedly as the oldest daughter, Hanifa, took charge of her siblings and grew vegetables to supplement the family’s food needs. Her mother encouraged her to focus on her studies and learn English in hopes that these skills would bring her a brighter future. Hanifa continued her studies and eventually became a teacher as well, specializing in working with children who have learning difficulties. With her support, some of her students have won scholarships to secondary schools.

Hanifa’s experiences, which give her special understanding of the educational needs of children in Zanzibari communities, made her an ideal candidate for the RISE scriptwriting and teacher-training activities. Hanifa and 11 other teachers were trained in scriptwriting techniques, and six were selected to focus full time on developing program scripts to be broadcast via radio across Zanzibar. These new scriptwriters will go on to build their capacities in curriculum development and classroom pedagogy by helping to develop the characters, songs, and content of the interactive radio-instruction programs.

Following the training, Hanifa returned to her full-time teaching position on Pemba, and her students noticed a difference in her teaching. “Now, they listen to me intently because I might put a story into the lesson,” Hanifa says. “I was always kind to children, but I learned why that is important. Children should not be afraid of their teachers. Fear prevents children from learning. Now, I ask my students questions to make them think. I prepare learning materials that help them learn by doing.”
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