The Matopo Primary School Teacher-to-Teacher project is documented here. It is kindly being supported by ETAS (English Teachers Association Switzerland) and the Roger Federer Foundation.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

David Coltart, Minister of Education in Zimbabwe

In the photo below you see me, Cindy Hauert, on the right, on the left Norma Ferguson, a partner in our project, and in the middle David Coltart, a civil rights lawyer who is now the Minister of Education in Zimbabwe. I was very fortunate to be able to meet David during our last visit and get his insights into the state of the education system in Zimbabwe.
Things might seem to be hopeless, but despite the challenges David keeps an upbeat yet realistic view of what can be done given the constraints. There are some good things happening too, and we want to focus on what we can aim for. The gains may seem small, but you have to start somewhere, and every child we can touch with our efforts has a chance he or she wouldn't have without us.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Things are moving!

Things are moving on apace! The "Spend a Penny" Project is about halfway there--Norma Ferguson, one of our partners in the project, has reported that the walls are climbing. There has been some rain--never enough, but it's still early days--and the "Teacher Twinning" scheme (pen friends for Matopo region teachers with Swiss teachers) is in place. We still need volunteers to be pen friends. I'm going to be recruiting at the ETAS AGM in Biel in January.
Plans have been laid for a meeting of the committee for GEM--Girls' Empowerment project, which the Federer Foundation will be sponsoring. I'm very excited about this project as it will support girls and give them a chance to continue their education beyond primary level to secondary. The local pilot project is located at one of our cluster schools, Sigiti Primary School, where Eleanor Chiwaka is working hard to promote it. As her Deputy Headmistress, Omina Nalevu, who gave a speech at the last Teachers Workshop Day put it, "These girls must have a chance to go on to secondary school. Otherwise (to put it bluntly), they will be pregnant in a short time."
There are plans being laid by Norma and Chris Ferguson and Denis and Sandy Paul to obtain materials for refurbishing the shabby classrooms and furniture, starting with painting the blackboards. Those of you who are spoilt by IWB can laugh, but for these schools having a pristine black surface upon which to write notes is a real luxury. We plan to furnish text books for the schools this year too, but the blackboard is and will remain an important tool for these teachers.
For my Swiss readers, I hope to see you in Biel for the English Teachers' Association annual meeting, where I will be presenting an update with slide show. For those who can't make it, I'm posting some photos from the Teachers' Workshop Day in October 2009.
Please let me know if you enjoy these posts--a short comment is very welcome!