15 May. Approaching Mid Year. Investigative Learning: creative thinkers..or creating thinkers?

Registration and celebrations for SEGA
As the year unfolds and first semester draws to an end it is evident that the pressure and reality of having to study hard and to succeed is taking its toll on everyone.
Both Non formals and Form 2’s are facing National exams this year. SEGA has recently celebrated the milestone of officially being accepted as a Registered Secondary School which enables our girls to partake in these exams. This was a milestone we celebrated with a special lunch of pilau and sodas, a new music system to play the 3 new CDs ( featuring the girls’ favorite music) throughout the whole Friday afternoon (Religion classes were postponed until the following week!) and into the evening...Having completed our staff meeting some of us joined the girls in the large canteen bunda. We sang, danced and shared the enjoyment of the celebrations.
As the pioneers of SEGA, Form 2 feels many pressures. Of course they are striving to pass for their own advancement and to secure an income and be able to make choices in their lives, but the additional burden many of them carry is that their families are depending on them to succeed and pull them all out of poverty!! A HUGE burden for these young girls because their extended families are many in number and vast in need. Additionally....SEGA staff wants them to succeed. For many students, this is also a pressure!
Secondary teaching in Tanzania
Secondary teaching in Tanzania is delivered to meet the stringent requirements of the National Exam held in late November. The curriculum is traditionally delivered in lecture style to ...’get as much information into the students’ minds as possible and make it stick’... so that they can regurgitate it in an exam designed, it seems, for this type of learning!
Unfortunately this system is harsh. Standard 4 (form 4) exams not only examine the topics the student learnt during that year but includes examination of topics covered throughout all Standards 1 – 4 (Forms 1 – 4). I know I would suffer in this system as my ability to rote learn and recall exact detail is not strong, especially after a long period of time has elapsed. Being a kinaesthetic learner I need visual/practical, as well as verbal input to learn effectively! I learn more quickly when I am required to apply my knowledge to a given situation...NOT just reiterate details/formulas/or definitions etc..!! This is the situation for many students...not just in Tz but worldwide!
SEGA is unique....
SEGA is somewhat unique here in Tz because the aim of its education program is to achieve academically as well as nurture the girls to become critical/active thinkers; be able to make realistic relevant choices in their lives and to practise applying their knowledge and skills to empower them to be successful.  SEGA’s focus is not just on academic success but on success in all areas of their lives
Staff are constantly challenged with helping the girls achieve good academic results. Having been teaching in the classroom, I have been able to appreciate the many challenges Tz teachers face. Academic delivery and nurturing critical thinkers through engaging participatory learning is seen by many SEGA teachers AND students as contradictory and a distraction from the ‘real teaching which should take place (but which only has the National exam in mind)!  “How can we teach the WHOLE syllabus if we are not lecturing/teaching every word in the text book?” The students themselves get very anxious when they are taken away from familiar teaching techniques, especially in core subjects!

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