Teachers in Tanzania traveled on foot or by bus for days to Mumba, a rural village, to attend an education seminar led by seven U.S. educators.
James and Nancy Kwasteniet, members of Hope Christian Reformed Church in Oak Forest, Ill., were two of those seven, five of whom are graduates of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich.
The Tanzanian teachers, who had never had any teacher training, learned techniques for cooperative learning and assessment, exercise physiology, and first aid.
The seminar was organized through IDEA Ministries (International Discipleship and Evangelization Associates). Nancy, a professor at Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights, Ill., and Jim, a teacher at Chicago Christian High School, were eager to share their knowledge and expertise.
Knowing that Tanzania is one of Africa’s poorest countries, the Kwasteniets brought $500 worth of donated sports equipment, books, and music, art, and science supplies.
Even so, the extreme poverty was a revelation. Teachers lack textbooks, school supplies, electricity, and running water. No drinking water was available at the schools they visited. Many students eat only an evening meal.
After learning about the mind/body connection and the importance of hydration for the brain, one headmaster planned to purify river water to supply each student with 8 ounces each day.
The 40 teachers who attended the seminar teach classes of 50 to 75 students. They read from one available textbook, and students copy down facts. Ideas such as ongoing assessment, collaborative teaching, and small-group discussion were a revelation. Nancy said, “The teachers told us how grateful they were for this knowledge that they could take back to the classroom.”
The Kwasteniets hope to return to Mumba to teach at educational seminars. They said the true gift of the seminar was mutual encouragement in the faith and shared beliefs in the power of education.
—Ruth Moblard De Young