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A Teacher in Tanzania: Paul’s story

Paul Jennings

Former teacher Paul Jennings took a real chance when he left UK classrooms to volunteer as a teacher facilitator in one of the most deprived parts of Tanzania.

	VSO volunteer Paul Jennings during a training session for all the teachers in the school to improve teaching methodologies in classroom Paul Jennings

VSO volunteer Paul Jennings in the classroom

“I’m a teacher facilitator in Lindi. My role involves working with teachers at 12 different secondary schools, aiming to give them a few more tools that they can use to engage children.

Lindi has some of the poorest educational outcomes in Tanzania, and retaining pupils from primary to secondary school is a real challenge.

Change can be slow in projects like this but there was a real positive difference over time. The work we did to train ‘teacher mentors’ was a real leap forward. I trained five promising teachers to do what us facilitators were doing, so that they could continue to impart that knowledge for years to come. We actually found the local staff learnt from their fellow teachers better than from us volunteers.

VSO volunteer Paul Jennings and local teacher Rebecca Ngovano in discussion during a training session. Angaza school, Lindi, Tanzania. ©VSO

VSO volunteer Paul Jennings and local teacher Rebecca Ngovano in discussion during a training session for all the teachers in the school to improve teaching methodologies in classrooms. Angaza school, Lindi, Tanzania

One teacher in particular has really improved. Rebecca from Angaza School came forward to work with me, and had only been teaching a year. She had so much enthusiasm and a rapport with students that you don’t see very often. She had a genuine warmth and real joy for her work.

I believe that education has to be the root of everything. It’s key, but one of the hardest things to address. If you don’t give children a strong education from the start, they can’t take advantage of opportunities that come up. They might make lifestyle choices that will make it difficult for their families to escape poverty.

It’s about sharing technical skills and knowledge, and an understanding of how they can find a way to build a better future.

Volunteering offers something unique. It’s where VSO really stands out, placing highly skilled professionals where they are needed most. They’re experts in their own right and can lend a huge amount of knowledge. But by working together with local partners, they can find the best match for the solution. It’s the blend of experiences that leads to the most innovative thinking.”