If we are honest with ourselves – a lot of us go into teaching for the promise of the 12 weeks holidays. I trained thinking it would be a mobile career I could take anywhere in the world. I thought I would end up being based abroad, teaching English.
The dream – we plan to fill up our passports with exotic destinations and utilise all of that time, energy and money we have in abundance as a teacher!
The reality – we drag ourselves over the finish line each term and collapse in a heap. We regroup and decompress, fight the flu, clean the house, do our ironing and enjoy just being and having a normal routine or just hanging out with friends and families.
Summer 2016 I found myself at a lose end, so I signed up last minute to volunteer with LRTT.
I literally signed up mid-July and found myself on a plane a few weeks later heading away for the whole of August. My reflections on my experiences volunteering to teach and train teachers in rural Tanzania are captured in my blogs here:
- On Teacher Training
- On Behaviour Management
- On Professional Learning
- On Citizenship
- On Naked Teaching Day
Last year, I agreed with Action Aid that OWLIE (Oxfordshire Women Leading in Education) would collaborate on a women in education charity project in Mozambique. The idea was that a group of women leading in education in Oxfordshire would pledge to fundraise together, then travel over to participate in a community development project.
What is my ‘Why’ for volunteering during my summer holidays?
- Lots of my friends and family may think I am bonkers that I work hard all year and then choose to ‘work’ in my holidays, but I don’t see volunteering as work but as giving back and paying it forward
- It is escapism from the daily grind but it is also very grounding and humbling – it is easy to get sucked into the issues and politics affecting our school/ our system but it reminds how lucky we are in so many ways
- As an English teacher, as a Headteacher, as the co-founder of #WomenEd I have so many reasons for why this project resonates with me
- Moreover, this year the #IWD18 theme is #PressforProgress and the UN have outlined the following sustainable development goals, it speaks to closing the gap 4 and 5
How will we be helping the community?
- We will live in the community and work alongside the locals
- We will contribute to the standard of living – we will be building a library in Paleira village. There is no library in the entire district, which means that 1,500 school children lack vital resources – books and learning materials to aid their studies.
- We will contribute to the standard of education for women and girls locally – 48% of women are married by their 18th birthday and nearly half of women are illiterate, and many are unaware of their rights to basic services such as healthcare.
- We will remove barriers to education – children must travel over 100km to the nearest overcrowded library in Maputo to source books, which is expensive for parents to pay for the travel and time-consuming for the students when they should be focussing on their studies.
- We will support children staying in school for longer and achieving better outcomes – many families can’t afford the cost of their children travelling to Maputo, so children achieve poor grades in exams and in some cases, are forced to drop out of school.
- We will impact the local economy – despite being one of the fastest growing economies, 60% of the population live below the poverty line of $US1.25 a day.
- We will help to break the poverty cycle by removing barriers – these challenges hamper pupils’ development, further exacerbating the cycle of poverty.
What will our project legacy be?
- We will develop relationships with local partners and hopefully help to make the project sustainable
- We will continue to work with the community when we return – I am still in touch remotely with many of the teachers I worked with in Njombe, TZ
- We may return to the project in the future or support phase 2 participants to do so, to build on our foundations
- We can fund raise for books from national publishers/ from schools changing their class readers due to the curriculum reform
- We can set up pen pals and school twinning partnerships – perhaps even an exchange?
So, what are you going to do next summer to make a difference?
We still have a few places left if you want to join us. Come and join Kathryn, Rosanna, Natasha, Carys, Natalie, Sam, Karen, Jenny, Kara, Kate. Tracy and Anoara who are just some of the #OWLIE #womened team to be joining me on this adventure!
Or if this is not possible due to other commitments, please do spread the word with people you know who may wish to join us on this community project.
If you cannot join us but would like to support us then perhaps you will sponsor us and help us to fund raise for the project?
Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher
Currently feeling hopeful about:
- That everyone I know will sponsor us £1 towards the project here.
- That we might be able to get some book donations too.
Currently reading and thinking about:
- Literacy levels, libraries and gender equality in Mozambique.
Currently feeling grateful for:
- The fact we have public libraries in this country and I have books on my shelves at home.
- I love reading and would not have become an English teaching if it was not for my love of reading.