Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Life after school

Monday November 12th

It is all too easy to look at how local travel restrictions affect me and forget about the locals who will be here long after I have left.  I know I have mentioned the walk that some pupils have coming to school, but this morning the problems were brought home with a bang.  As I cycled to school I met Mr Mmari going in the opposite direction and he informed me that he was walking to Pangani.  I’ve already explained how far this is, so you will not be surprised that I got off my bike and offered it to him to speed his journey.  He declined my offer though because his wife was just in front with a friend.   It appears that their last child was born by Caesarean Section and there have been complications with her recovery from the operation.  Thus, they were walking to the hospital in Pangani so that she could be seen by the doctor!  I saw him later and the news did not sound particularly good but this did not prevent the pair of them having to walk home as well! 

By incidents such as the one described above, I am constantly being reminded that there is so much that is different in Tanzania but yet, there is so much that is the same.  I stand and talk to a group of students in the school and for all the total differences in their experiences and environment to a similar group in the UK, I so often find how similar they are in their fears and aspirations for the future.  Form III, once again today had no ‘Ticha’, which to be honest is too common an occurrence, so at the end of the maths lesson I stayed with them and we talked about what life held for them after Boza.  Every one of them hoped and expected to continue in education after their Form IV National Examination next year by going to other schools around Tanzania.  There, some would do vocational qualifications such as secretarial skills whilst most wanted to continue by doing the equivalent of A levels, and of these, most of them hoped to go to University.  The jobs that they saw themselves in varied from secretary to accountant, journalist,  a few doctors etc, whilst the Tanzanian equivalent to “Do you want large fries with that”, is the ‘conductor’ on a Daladala, which was the job they suggested for my miscreant Mogomba.  The ‘conductor’ signals for the driver to stop or start by slapping his hand on the side of the minibus as he leans out and when I asked Mogomba what he hoped to do there were howls of laughter as they duplicated this signal. A discussion in Carleton would have followed very similar lines, the main difference being that many here were thus committing themselves to education whilst already being eighteen plus.

I learnt today that my expressed concerns at the falling roles at Boza didn’t take into consideration the Form II national tests.  It appears that at some of the local schools the pass rate at this stage of their education is very low and parents are then left with the option of letting their child repeat Form II at the same school, as they are not allowed to progress further without a pass, or looking towards smaller classes and a better opportunity at a school like Boza. Although Form I is very small this year, it could well be bolstered by a new intake when the results come out in January.

When I got home after school I was reminded of a book I read many years ago set on a submarine. (Stay with me.  It does make sense, eventually).  The sub was sailing on the surface across the Pacific when it suddenly started raining and everyone who was not on duty grabbed some soap and shot up on deck.  The story is about a new recruit who followed the mass exit and stripped off in the same way and luxuriated in the downpour.  He couldn’t understand why everyone was frenetically washing until suddenly, as quick as the rain had started, it stopped and he was the only one standing with soap suds baking on to his skin.  Both rain and electricity are a little like that in Tanzania.  The power, having gone off at noon at school was still off at 7:30 as I settled down to dinner by oil lamp light.  At 8:00 the power came back on and like the new recruit I leisurely finished my beer, had a talk to a couple of the evening visitors and it was nearly 9:30 when I powered up my laptop, connected to the internet, and settled down, just as the power went off again.  I’m informed that by 11:00 we had power again but by that time my eyes were glued shut and I never noticed my fan start revolving.  Thankfully it lasted through the night so when I did get up about 5:00 I could continue with my work.  Hopefully things will improve.


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