Many children living on the islands of Zanzibar do not benefit from schooling. There are several reasons: extreme poverty, cultural beliefs that limit girls’ participation, distance from school, and lack of early learning experiences that prepare children to succeed are some of the most important. To address this situation, EDC is working with the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training to implement RISE (Radio Instruction to Strengthen Education)—a USAID funded initiative that will increase learning and participation of disadvantaged children in preschool, first and second grade. Over 10,000 children in Zanzibar will have access to the programs, broadcast on short wave frequencies and heard through wind-up (dynamo) radios.
Hanifa Soud Aman is a Zanzibari primary school teacher who experienced firsthand how education can change lives. Her mother was a schoolteacher who raised eight children single-handedly; as the oldest daughter, Hanifa took charge of her siblings and grew vegetables to supplement the family’s food needs. Her mother encouraged her to focus on her studies and learn English in hopes that these skills would bring her a brighter future. Hanifa continued her studies and eventually became a teacher as well, specializing in working with children who have learning difficulties. With her support, some of her students have won scholarships to secondary school.
Hanifa’s experiences, which give her special understanding of the educational needs of children in Zanzibari communities, made her an ideal candidate for the RISE script-writing and teacher training activity. Hanifa and 11 other teachers were trained in script-writing techniques, and six were selected to focus full-time on developing program scripts to be broadcast via radio across Zanzibar. These new scriptwriters will go on to build their capacity in curriculum development and classroom pedagogy by helping to develop the characters, songs, and content of the interactive radio instruction programs.
Following the training, Hanifa returned to her full-time teaching position on Pemba, and her students noticed a difference in her teaching. “Now they listen to me intently because I might put a story into the lesson,” Hanifa says. “I was always kind to children but I learned why that is important. Children should not be afraid of their teacher. Fear prevents children from learning. Now I ask my students questions to make them think. I prepare learning materials that help them learn by doing.”
Originally published on May 1, 2007