Noonkodin is the only school in Tanzania that offers a special programme (alongside the normal subjects like Maths, English, Science, Geography and History) to encourage its students to:
- Document and record the knowledge, traditions, songs, stories, proverbs and dances of their communities
- Do their own research on plants and trees used in traditional herbal medicine
- Learn about other cultures through Global School Partnerships
- Explore sustainable livelihoods, e.g. cultural tourism, handicrafts, music or natural soaps
Given Noonkodin’s emphasis on encouraging students to think for themselves, plan their own research, and bring together indigenous knowledge and modern technology to solve economic and social problems, it’s a real challenge for us to find (and keep) the creative teachers that we need to bring our vision to life! There is a nationwide shortage of qualified teachers in Tanzania – and many have only been trained in old-fashioned ‘chalk-and-talk’ teaching methods.
The school usually has between 8 and 12 teachers – many of whom come from pastoralist families themselves, and have a deep understanding of the local culture and environment. None of them are university graduates: some have a basic teaching diploma, and others only A-levels.
Serian UK’s in-service teacher training programme, launched in January 2011, aims to support Noonkodin teachers to upgrade their skills and qualifications – while still receiving a monthly salary, so their families don’t go hungry. The headmaster is keen to join an online course in Education for Sustainability, to learn about relationships between values, inter-cultural dialogue, indigenous knowledge and sustainable development in Africa.
To set up a regular standing order of £5 per month (or whatever you can afford) to support Noonkodin School’s teacher training programme, or to discuss how you can volunteer your skills as an educator, please contact Charley.