Socially Balanced Equity Education

Growing up I always thought I needed to work at a lucrative job and make tones of money so that I can escape poverty. As a kid, I thought being rich was the best thing ever. Growing up in a poverty stricken neighborhood, I have seen and experienced the real problems associated with poverty. And, I tell you, poverty isn’t fun. Continue reading “Socially Balanced Equity Education”

Does Affect Impact Student Achievement?

Background: Educators are experiencing undue pressure to perform in education accountability driven by evidence-based instruction. The pressure to show adequate student performance on standardized tests causes many educators to allocate a larger portion of their classroom instructional time to test preparation instead of teaching higher-order learning and thinking skills (Tapia & Marsh, 2004). The shift in teaching time allocation also causes educators to sacrifice other crucial teaching and learning components believed to Continue reading “Does Affect Impact Student Achievement?”

Chimney Tops, Smoky Mountains National Park

There were many good moments in Gatlingburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. However, this one was among the best. And the best days were many. I do not have a good recollection of the events of each day that we spent at the Great Smoky Mountains. I would say, this was either the third or fourth day there. Each day we took a walk in the wild side to witness the beauty of nature. On this particular day, we went to climb and see the famous Chimney Tops Trail.

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This trail is designated as strenuous. Therefore, we packed our rucksacks lightly with some juice, dry fruits, and a sandwich for the Pili-Pili. The trail is located half-way up the mountain on the singularly road to Cherokee, South Carolina. Once you pack your vehicle, the trail start slowly by descending to the bottom of the river. It was a beautiful sight and hugely deceiving of the long and uphill graded hike to come.

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Once you cross a few bridges, steep and thoughtfully placed steps starts. There are 256 steps. Pili counted them out of boredom. The trail keeps going up, up, and up, and up again. Meandering like a giant river approaching the ocean. It’s not the hike that brings hordes of people here. It’s the amazing views on the way up and at the top of the chimneys. I know the pictures that you see here don’t give justice to the actual views there. The 2.3 miles up and 2.3 miles down was joyous as anything i have never done in a few years. 

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Big Results Now: A Simple Solution to a Complex Problem

The tables have turned. Or am I seeing the work of a magician. Enough with the jokes! Seriously, Tanzania has been the laughing stock in East Africa with regards to its education system for a while. We all know that change do take time. Especially, meaningful and lasting change. Change  in education doesn’t happen overnight (read here, here, and here). And quick fixes have unintended consequences (read here). However, I am happy to say that Tanzania has found a magic formula to raise student achievement in the shortest amount of time through its Big Results Now program.

Two years ago, the failure rates at the primary, secondary and high school levels were up the roofs (read here). The 2012 examination results for secondary schools was the lowest in history. However, in less than a year of BIG RESULTS NOW, we are seeing the highest jump in exam results never seen anywhere in the world of education. Has the system really changed? Or is it a mirage?

What I believe is this, for change to happen, underlying causes needs to be addressed. Has the education system in Tanzania addressed the challenges it faces? Challenges such as lack of teachers, lack of quality instruction in the classrooms, teacher absenteeism, lack of teaching resources, lack of laboratories and lab materials for science related courses. In my sane mind, I can’t believe that all these challenges have been addressed in less than a year. Unless you believe in miracles, of which I don’t, something really shady is in the works here.

As they say in Swahili “kuongeza ukubwa wa magoli” is not a genuine solution to this problem. The problems facing the education system in Tanzania are multi-faceted and needs multi-faceted solutions to address them. Quick fixes, No. They will just create a spillover effect. What I see is a disaster in the making. The consequences of which, will be difficult to remediate with simple and quick fixes.

Smoky Mountains National Park

This year we decided to chart a new course for our family summer vacation. We decided to take a path less traveled. Once you have been to the Sunshine State too many times, it becomes less difficult to choose to go elsewhere. I have no complaints with my vacations in Florida. Florida is always going to be the best destination for a summer vacation. With all the amusement parks, serene beaches, and warm weather. I love the place and I could visit there anytime. However, July’s Florida heat can be a turd too much to bear sometimes.

As we were trying to expose our daughter to other forms of summer travel adventures this year. We decided to climb the mountains. The decision was easy. While there, we saw some of the best kept secret places in the Southeastern Mountains Ranges of the United States. Gatlinburg is at the base of Smoky Mountain National Park. Next to it, is Pigeon Forge, the land of Dolly Patton. While there, you can do just anything touristy like amusement parks, you can scare your pants off by visiting many of the Ripley’s scare places or you can grab a cabin in the mountains and live a completely quiet week all to yourself. We chose the latter.

Here are a few pictures from my nature hikes at the Laurel Falls and Clingmans Dome. Enjoy.


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Laurel Falls Nature Trail

Laurel Falls Nature Trail

Course Evaluation

Hello everyone. It was great to have you in my course this semester. I hope you enjoyed the experience. In my quest to make the course more enjoyable to you, I would like your input. Additionally, I hope you will find a way to use the information you learned in this course in the near future to make your lives better. As we are approaching the end of the semester, I would like for you to share your opinion about the course by clicking this link. It is my hope that you will take this opportunity seriously and that you will offer genuine suggestions to improve the course.

Here are three things I would like you to respond to:

1) what did you like about the course (think about pacing (too slow, too fast, just about right), information, field trips, out of class activities, in class activities and so forth)?

2) what did you not like?

3) what could I have done differently?

This is completely anonymous. Feel free to express your opinion to help me improve students’ experiences in the course.

Good-luck and Happy Summer Y’all!!



The Qualitative Method of Impact Analysis

The article entitled “The Qualitative Method of Impact Analysis” by Mohr (1999) attempts to qualify qualitative study design as a rigorous and explicit method for impact analysis (impact evaluation purposes). In this article, Mohr discusses the problems facing qualitative methods when it is used to study impact. He asserts, impact it fundamentally is a causation type of a problem. Causation impact analysis is better evaluated if one uses a quantitative methodology. Mohr argues that the main issue here is based upon the definition of causality. The most accepted definition of causation is based solely on the counterfactual definition of causality. Therefore, if Y occurs, then, X must have occurred. This aligns perfectly with the quantitative methodology of impact evaluation. According to Mohr (1999), a more defensible version of the counter factual definition is called factual causation. Factual causation states that “X was caused by Y if and only if X and Y both occurred and, in the circumstances, if X had not occurred, then neither would Y” (Mohr, 1999; p. 71). As a result, causation is better established when variables are compared. Thus, causality is derived from the comparison of results from the experimental group to those in the control group. Without this base of combination of observations it would be impossible to determine the variance on the treatment variables. Hence, statistical analysis would not be possible.

Based on the counterfactual definition of causality it is impossible to use qualitative methodology to evaluate impact. To better determine impact, qualitative methods must rely on something other than evidence of counterfactual to establish causal inferences. Therefore it renders impossible for a qualitative methodology to show the concurrence of X and Y without the use of a treatment group and a control group that is prevalent in quantitative designs. However, Stricken (1976 as cited in Mohr, 1999) offer us an approach called the “modus operandi’ method which can be used to bypass the counterfactual definition of causality. The modus operandi method can be described as follows: it is an elimination process. For example, to demonstrate that treatment T has caused Y to occur, other possible causes of Y such as U, V, and W must be eliminated as contenders for causing T to occur through elimination. The modus operandi is commonly used in the daily works of professionals such as doctors, police, and investigators. Modus operandi does not meet the counterfactual definition of causality used in quantitative study designs. However, because of the modus operandi methods, qualitative study designs can be used to determine the programs impact using the elimination process to determine causal inferences. Therefore, no variables are needed to establish causation in qualitative designs because physical causality rather than factual causality does indeed produce compelling evidence for ascertaining the occurrence of T when Y occurred after all the other contenders have been eliminated. Thus, causal reasoning can be reliably used in qualitative designs to determine causal inferences in program and impact analysis.

I enjoyed reading this article because it offered me practical and useful insights in conceptualizing causality inferences. I have learned that the causation debate between researchers in quantitative design and those in qualitative design is based on the definition of causation. For the supporters of quantitative design, causation is defined by the counterfactual definition of causality. Thus, causation is determined by comparing two sets of variables (control and experimental values). On the other hand, the proponent in the qualitative design camp proves that causation can be established through the elimination process. The process of elimination is commonly used in our daily lives without comparisons and/or variables. I can relate this to my research. There are several similarities between my research design and the process of elimination described in this article. My research follows the quantitative design tradition, but it does not involve a control group. The causal inferences I can draw from my research design (single participant research design) are largely a result of better controls of the internal threats to validity rather than the comparison of results from the control group to that of the experimental group. There are no control groups in my proposed experimental design. Thus, as a researcher I plan to incorporate the useful, practical, beneficial insight, and steps of determining causal inferences discussed in this article.
Mohr, B. L. (1999). The qualitative method of impact analysis. American Journal of Evaluation, 20 (1), 69-84.

The One Size Fits All Assessment Model: A disastrous approach.

In this analysis, I will discuss the book review entitled “Computers, Curriculum, and Cultural Change (2rd ed.)” by Bonita Wilcox (2005). I will review the four types of literacy discussed in the book review and how to incorporate these literacies in instruction. Finally, I will conclude by discussing the lessons I learned from reading this article and how I will use some of the information in my praxis.

In her article, Wilcox reviews the book entitled “Differentiated Literacy Strategies for Student Growth and Achievement in Grades 7-12” by Gayle H. Gregory and Lin Kuzmich (2005). Ms. Wilcox begins here review with two fundamental questions: “Overwhelmed by student diversity? Too much content and too little time? I am sure that many educators can relate to that. We all are struggling to meet the needs of each and every student in our classrooms. Some of the needs we must meet to remain effective educators are student development, learning styles, learning preferences, and multiple intelligences”.  Ms. Wilcox goes on to state that student diversity is one of the biggest challenges for American educators in the 21st century classroom.  In their book, Gregory and Kuzmich (2005) suggest looking at these challenges through the lens of the four domains of literacy: functional, content, technological, and innovation/creative. Gregory and Kuzmich further suggest educators consider numerous differentiated learning methods while acknowledging that these methods have to be balanced against the time and resource constraints many educators face. To address these challenges, Gregory and Kuzmich offer several instructional strategies, assessment strategies, planning models, checklists, rubrics, and lesson plans based on current brain research and recommendations from prominent educators.

Gregory and Kuzmich believe, like most educators, that gathering and evaluating data is crucial in making well-informed decisions to improve learning. They also believe that diagnostic thinking must be done by teachers themselves since they work with and know all the students in their classroom. External testing and evaluation is not tailored to individual students and therefore does not offer the best diagnostic prescription for student development at the individual level. The use of differentiated instructional practices for specific learning styles, preferences, and multiple intelligences are discussed to address the functional and content area competence. These include flexible grouping, anticipation guides, SQ3R, graphic organizers (four corner, compare/contrast, and cross classification), choice boards, KWL charts, reciprocal teaching, and writing prompts. To meet the technological and innovative literacy challenges, Gregory and Kuzmich suggest best practices for promoting multidimensional thinking and multimedia production. These include useful websites for various content specific areas, search engines, search guides, website credibility measures, and some innovative methods including switch between work groups, kinds of text, and types of writing skills and media use.

In conclusion, this book review was very informative. I have learned many useful teaching and learning strategies that I will be utilizing in my daily praxis. Furthermore, it was very interesting to learn that most educators over-value the importance of external student testing and evaluation. In my view, this practice is not formative and does not help educators improve their teaching. The best diagnostic thinking is the one envisioned and implemented by the teachers themselves. This kind of test takes into consideration student diversity and can address challenges at the individual student level. The one size fits all assessment that we are currently using assumes that all students are the same.  In my opinion, this is an incorrect assumption.






Wilcox, B (2005). Computers, curriculum, and cultural change (2rd ed.), English Leadership Quarterly, 28(2): 12.

The Challenges of Curriculum Change: Lessons from Alberta, Canada

The article entitled “The Challenges of Curriculum Change” by Kent den Heyer (2013) discusses an educational initiative in Canada’s Alberta Province.  The purpose of the Initiative was to move from a knowledge-based curriculum to a skills- or competence-based curriculum. In this analysis, I will first discuss the author’s argument regarding curriculum change. In addition, I will discuss what is already known about change and how that can be used to facilitate the kind of change that officials in the Alberta Province sought to achieve. Finally, I will discuss the lessons I learned from reading this article.

Den Heyer starts the discussion by quoting a statement made by a 3rd year education student in his undergraduate course. He quotes, “I just want to know what I need to know; I didn’t want to have to think about it” (den Heyer, 2013).  This comment, den Heyer argues, suggests that the student did not necessarily value “thinking” as an end point in her education.  Instead, what she valued the most was the ability to complete tasks or skills.  Den Heyer goes on to discuss how this quote relates to the ability to affect change.  In order for change to occur, den Heyer suggests that we must first change the minds of the people responsible for implementing programs. In the example from Alberta, officials realized that there was a gap between the current curricula used in schools and the mission statement of the school system that promoted engagement, ethical citizenship, and entrepreneurship.  An educational initiative was put forth to change the curricula to match this mission statement.  However, changing how students were instructed would require more than just changing the curricula. It would also require convincing the program implementers (e.g. school administrators, teachers, etc.) on why the curriculum changes were needed.

            In the article, den Heyer reviews what is already known about initiatives for programmatic school change. Research findings consistently indicate that formal curricula changes have little discernible effect on changing classroom practices. We all know that classrooms are where the rubber meets the road. If little changes happens there, the curricula change we are envisioning will have very little impact on what students learn in the classroom. Den Heyer reminds us that curriculum theory is an important aspect of curriculum change when Unfortunately, however, most curriculum changes are politically based and have little to no educational theory behind them. These symbolic curriculum changes are used to signal that something is being done but in reality these moves have little transformative potential in improving student outcomes.

According to den Heyer (2013) official curriculum change and redesigning suffers from many issues.  Lack of open discussion with all stakeholders can lead to changes that are impossible to implement and/or which lack buy-in from key stakeholders needed to implement the curriculum changes (e.g. teachers, school administrators, etc.).  For example, fundamental questions to curriculum changes such as classroom sizes, teaching loads, content, skills, and assessment tools may not be thoroughly discussed as part of the curriculum change process. In addition, strong curricula are based on theories of knowledge and an understanding of the relationship between knowledge and meaning construction. If curricula are not based on theory, teachers will present information and competencies as if they are inter-changeable. The danger to this will be an inability to assess students’ developed competencies.

In conclusion, most often there is a mismatch between the mission statement of school agencies and the type of knowledge they purport to advance. Therefore, a careful look is needed to make sure that the curriculum employed by an educational agency aligns with the agency’s mission statement. In addition, to advance real curriculum change, key stakeholders need to be involved in the process. Successful curriculum change happens when it is initiated from the down-up rather than from the top-down. Needs for improvement must clearly be identified and incorporated into the new curriculum and the curriculum must be based on clear theory.  From this article, I gained insight into the factors required to successfully change curriculum.  These insights will help me as I pursue a career in curriculum development.



Den Keyer, K (2013). The challenges of curriculum change, ATA Magazine, 93(4): 16-19

Evidence-Based Management of Education in Tanzania: A Cautionary Tale.

Education management and assessment is a challenging process. Most often, educational evaluators fail to evaluate education systems because of not having a complete understanding of the curriculum driving the education process. The not so sophisticated educational assessors view educational assessment as simple as a pass or fail exercise.  The assessment is often based on simplistic tests that only assess the recall of facts and memorized information from the taught curriculum. Usually, the tests used are unable to measure in-depth understanding of concepts as well as critical thinking abilities gained by the student because it is hard to measure these sophisticated elements of learning. The most common tests are standardized which are classified as norm referenced tests and criterion referenced tests.  The evaluation of an education system’s worth is more complex than merely looking for deficiencies in the system. It requires sophisticated assessments that highlight the entire range of issues associate with the education system from the curriculum design itself, its implementation, and evaluation. This process needs to be informative rather than punitive so that educators can learn from empirical evidence in order to improve the quality of teaching and learning.
 Joel Spring (2011) posits that education has many objectives including “nationalism and patriotism; active democratic citizenship; progressive education; social justice; environmental education; human rights; arts education; cultural studies; consumer and critical media studies; and the social reconstruction of society. Regardless of the many objectives of education, the central focus of education accountability is derived from the summative assessment part. There is little effort to inform the teaching and learning process which is central to improving the quality of education. The data driven accountability in education like in many other social services in Tanzania is based on summative assessment alone and is also driven by the industrial model of management. Summative assessments are purely statistical (quantitative) and therefore add little to no value in education improvement. They are used mainly for placing blame on schools by creating systematic ranking. For example, I have seen a new website called that ranks schools from best to worst performers. The ranking of school based upon top performers to the lowest performers has no place in education. Education is not a competitive process; it is a collaborative process. And this is so true especially when quality improvement is the main goal. I think it is high time we stop and ask ourselves “What is the purpose of these rankings? Does the ranking offer any meaningful insights on how to improve the schools? If the purpose of the ranking is to shame those schools, then we do not need them. Is there an ulterior motive in all this?
Evaluation in education comes in either formative or summative. Formative evaluation is on-going and provides the educator with information necessary to improve teaching and learning. This is the kind of assessment that is the most preferred in education because it provides evidence needed to improve the system. Summative assessment, on the other hand, happens at the end of the process. Its purpose is mainly to measure if the objectives of the curriculum have been successfully met.  It mainly is used to measure the curriculum objectives like the students’ scores on a standardized test. This type of assessment does not offer solutions that would improve the quality of education. Therefore, these assessments should not be the sole systems of evaluation in an education system. The students’ score alone does not paint the whole picture of a faulty education system.
It is my belief that some people are pushing this narrowed view of education assessment for alternative goals besides the improvement of quality in education. In this vein, I see the beginnings of a business model of educational management in Tanzania. Mind you, business has only one objective, to make a profit for its shareholders. Public education is much more than making a profit. It is the right of every Tanzanian girl and boy to receive an equal opportunity to be educated.
While it is important to assess students, the assessment should meet the objective set forth of the goal that needs to be accomplished. When the assessment is based on a single objective of an education system, it renders a flawed assessment. There is a need to broaden the assessment system so that it can encompass all of the objectives set forth in the curriculum of an education system. I wonder why some respected individuals in the civil society field see this model of assessment as the best for our education system? This type of assessment is meaningless because it does not tell us anything more than the simple acquisition of subject based facts and knowledge. Paulo Freire advocated for a teaching and learning model that “empowers students to be good citizens, patriots, understanding of the democratic fabrics of the country, critical thinkers, and analyzers of the situations around them” and not students who will do as they are told.  
I feel that the vocal individuals (from some asasi za kijamii) have little understanding of education, its purposes, and its assessment systems. Due to a lack of sophisticated understanding of education, they are pushing for an educational assessment system that has no value to education whatsoever. Like A. V. Kelly (2013)said, “when the toothpaste gets out of the tube, it is impossible to put it back”. I think it is high time for people with solid educational backgrounds (not politics or asasi za kijamii kind) to take a lead in devising and directing assessment and measurement in the Tanzanian education system.
In conclusion, I do not deny that there is a place for summative assessment in education. However, when it becomes the end all, and be all, then something is wrong. I hope people will see to it that there is more to education than test scores and start to strengthen the educational quality delivery in Tanzania sooner rather than later. Otherwise, the uninformed will end up leading the informed in this field. The consequences of that will be many children left behind.

A Mixed Method Study Design

By: Shaaban Fundi

In this synthesis I will discuss my understanding of mixed method research design. I will also discuss which methods (qualitative or quantitative) that I will use to drive my research inquiry. In addition, I will discuss in detail the case study approach that I will use in my pilot study.  Finally, I will discuss the lessons I learned throughout the process and discuss why a case study approach and a mixed method design are appropriate for answering my research questions.


A mixed method study uses both qualitative and quantitative research designs. In the 1990’s mixed method study design gained popularity (Creswell, 2011). Green (2007) define a mixed method study as “research in which an investigator collects and analyzes data, integrates findings, and draws inferences using both qualitative and quantitative  approaches  or methods in a single study or program of inquiry” (p.20). According to Creswell (2011) mixed method study increases the breadth and depth of our understanding of the research data, findings, and also corroborates the study findings. By corroborating the findings of the study, it ensures stronger validity of the study findings.


To use mixed method design, Creswell (2011) suggests that the research question must match the study design. It is important for the questions formulated to address both the needs for a quantitative and a qualitative study design. One mixed method study entitled “Merging Qualitative and Quantitative Data in a Mixed Method Research: How to and Why not” by Driscoll et al (2007) discusses both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods. In addition, Driscoll et al study discusses data interpretation methods used to assess the utility of mixed methods designs that uses both qualitative and quantitative transformative research design. In this study, the author describes two mixed method data collection procedures and two qualitative data analysis procedures.  The procedures of data collection discussed in the article are concurrent and sequential data collection methods. Concurrent data collection design is used to validate one form of data collection with another. For example, qualitative data collection methods can be used concurrently with quantitative data collection methods to validate collected data and findings.  On the other hand, a sequential data collection method employ either a qualitative data collection method first followed by a quantitative data collection or a quantitative data collection method first followed by a qualitative data collection method. For example, surveys could be used first to collect data. Then, the collected data could be analyzed to generate findings. However, if the findings do not tell the whole story, then, in depth interviews could be used with a segment of the study population to validate and/or augment the findings from both data collection methods.


In my study I plan to use the sequential data collection method. First, I plan to utilize in depth survey with educators to solicit their experiences using virtual labs in science education. Then, I will analyze the data from the in-depth survey to information gaps that will help me to develop a survey to help validate and corroborate the in-depth interview data and findings. Therefore, the qualitative component of the study will drive the quantitative part of the study. In other words, the qualitative research findings will help me devise a survey instrument to be used in the quantitative study.


Now I will turn my discussion on the case study qualitative approach that I plan to use in my mixed research study. According to Creswell (2013) “identifying the problem to be studied, identifying the context, using multiple sources of data collection, data analysis, and representation” are the essential components of a case study. Creswell also identifies five components that should be included as part of the introduction to a well-conducted qualitative research study.  These components include: 1) a clearly defined topic, 2) a well-stated research problem, 3) a literature review justifying the problem, 4) identification of gaps and deficiencies in the existing literature, and 5) a justification and rationale for why the problem is an important area of research (Creswell, 2013; p. 132). I have developed my rationale and research questions for my exploratory qualitative study following Creswell’s five prong process. I am interested in exploring the experiences of high school science teachers when using virtual labs with their students. I am exploring this topic by using the case study approach.


Case studies are differentiated into various types based on the purpose and the size that bound the case. For example, a case study can involve (be bounded by) one individual, a few individuals, a group, and an entire program (Creswell, 2013). Based on intent Creswell (2013) identifies three approaches to conducting a case study inquiry. These approaches include: intrinsic case study, the single instrumental case study, and the collective or multiple case study. According to Stake (1995) a single instrumental case study focuses on a single issue bounded in one case. In a collective case study the researcher select one issue or concern and then select multiple case studies to illustrate the concern. A collective case study can be achieved by to study either multiple perspectives of a case within a single site or by selecting several cases from multiple sites. Finally, intrinsic case study focuses on the case itself. Some cases present unique or unusual situation. For example, evaluating an educational program that is not working as intended and then creating detailed descriptions of the unique case to illustrate the problems and how to solve those problems. In this pilot case study, I asked teachers to recall the episodes where they used virtual labs in their classrooms and to relay to me their personal experiences using these labs in their classrooms.  In addition, I collected information about the teachers’ background.  This information will help me to contextualize how their experiences using virtual labs were influenced by their educational background and their teaching philosophy.


During my review of the literature, I identified two qualitative studies that described the experiences of teachers who became students.  Their experiences as students helped them identify strategies to improve their teaching.  Mann (2003), a college professor, described her own experience as a student attending an online course.  From her experience, she identified several strategies that teachers can use to foster student learning in a virtual environment. Similarly, Sinclair (2004; as cited in Case, Marshall, & Linder, 2010) spent two years as a student in a mechanical engineering program.  During her time as a student, she identified several challenges that students encounter when entering a new discourse or discipline. She also identified strategies that educators can use to help their students be successful in a new discourse.


The two studies illustrate the need to understand teachers’ experiences with virtual labs since it may be one strategy to foster student learning in a virtual environment. Currently, little research has been done in this area, especially amongst high school science students. My study will address this existing gap in the literature by exploring teachers’ experience with virtual labs using a case study approach and examining the impact of virtual labs on student learning using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. In addition, the teachers’ experiences and stories from my exploratory study will help other educators understand the challenges and opportunities associated with using virtual labs in their classrooms, including identifying best practices for integrating virtual labs into the science classroom.
Creswell (2013) describes several types of data collection techniques that can be used as part of a case study.  These include in-depth interviews, personal observations, field notes, and attendance at events.  In an interpretive case study entitled “An Investigation of Experienced Secondary Science Teachers’ Beliefs About Inquiry: An Examination of Competing Belief Sets”, Wallace and Kang (2004) used a variety of data collection methods. These methods include: (1) semi-structured formal interviews; (2) informal interviews; (3) field notes from observation and video tapes of classroom teaching; (4) lesson plan and student materials documents; and (5) written reflections of the teachers. For my exploratory study, I used in-depth interviews and observations with three teachers to elicit their experiences with virtual labs and I also observed how they use virtual labs in their classrooms.  In my initial interview, I asked six key questions to capture the teachers’ experiences with virtual labs. These questions include:


1)   Tell me about your educational and professional background;

  1. Probe: How did you become an educator?

2)                  What is your teaching philosophy?

3)                  How do virtual labs fit within this philosophy?

4)               Describe the professional development that has helped you to be effective in using virtual labs for teaching?

5)               What do you see as barriers and benefits to using virtual labs with your students?

6)               What adaptations (if any) did you make to ensure that all students in your class benefit from virtual labs?


To collect data for the pilot case study, I purposely chose my three participants. First, two of the participants are new teachers (less than three years of teaching) in my department and because of that they have limited experience with virtual labs. One of the interviewee was a veteran educator with over 12 years of teaching experience. Thus, I will not interview the same educators during my actual dissertation study. Second, the participants and I work in the same hallway and have the same planning period; therefore, I have easy access to them. According to Creswell (2013) a researcher may select ordinary research participants due to easy access. In addition, a researcher may select participants with different perspectives on the problem to achieve a purposeful maximal sampling. In this case I choose ordinary participants based mainly on accessibility. However, during the actual study I would like to interview one veteran teacher who has extensive experience with virtual labs. This is in accordance with Creswell’s (2013) description of the single issue-single individual case study that I plan to use for my case study. During my interview with this veteran teacher, I hope to gain a deeper understanding of how she uses virtual labs in her classroom in order to provide guidance to other educators on the opportunities and difficulties of using virtual labs as a teaching tool in the science classroom.  .


I started to analyze the three in-depth interviews I conducted with the educators. I have identified several major themes that arose from the teachers’ experiences. I will use the developed themes to create a detailed chronological description of each participant’s experiences with virtual labs. I will then, present a thematic analysis of the themes that have developed from the interviews to show similarities and differences between the interviewees. I realize that using just one method of data collection in my exploratory study may result in findings that are devoid of richer and triangulated data (Sinclair, 2004; as cited in Case, Marshall, & Linder, 2010). However, I hope to use the lessons learned from the interviews conducted as part of my exploratory case study to refine the interview guide and methodology that I will use for my dissertation.


The use of various data collection methods in a case study increases the validity of the study findings by offering the means to cross check the developing themes across the data collection methods (Sinclair, 2004; as cited in Case, Marshall, & Linder, 2010). In my dissertation study, I plan to use in-depth interviews, observations, and surveys as part of my mixed method study.  It is my hope that this exploratory study will offer me insights on which additional methods of data collection and analysis I should use as part of my mixed method dissertation study. In addition, the exploratory study will help me to determine if the initial questions that I have developed are appropriate for collecting teachers’ experience or whether the questions need to be refined. In addition, the findings from this exploratory will help me to determine whether a mixed methods approach is an appropriate study design for my dissertation.


In conclusion, this analysis helped me to frame my research study using a case study approach in a mixed method study
design.   As part of this process, I came to realize that case study alone is not sufficient to answer my research question, specifically categorizing the types of experiences that science teachers have when using virtual labs. For example, a mixed method study design could help me understand the essence of the teachers’ shared experiences using virtual labs better by corroborating the findings from in-depth interviews with surveys from a larger population of educators who use virtual labs in science education across the country. Therefore, in my dissertation, I plan to use both qualitative and quantitative study designs to sufficiently answer the questions outlined in my dissertation study.  As a result, the qualitative study will drive the quantitative study.

Case, J. M., Marshall, D., & Linder, C. (2010). Being a student again: A narrative study of a teachers’ experience. Teaching in Higher Education,15(4): 423-433.

Creswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches (3rd ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Creswell, J. W. (2013). Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research (2nd ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Driscoll, D., Appia-Yeboah, A., Salib, P., & Ruppert, D. (2007). Merging qualitative and quantitative data in a mixed method research: How to and why not. Ecological and Environmental Anthropology, 3(1): 19-28.

Greene, J., Caracelli, V., & Graham, W. (1989). Toward a conceptual framework for Mixed-Methods Evaluation Designs. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 11:255-274.

Kumu-Yeboah, A., & Waynne, J. (2012). Transformation teaching Experiences of a Novice Teacher: A narrative of an award winning teacher. Journal of Adult Learning, 23(4): 170-177.

Mann, S. J. (2003). A personal inquiry into an experience of adult learning on-line.

 Instructional Science, 31, 111-125.

Educational Ideologies: Schiro’s Book Review

In this book review, I will discuss the four main educational ideologies presented in the book entitled “Curriculum Theory: Conflicting Visions and Enduring Concerns” by Michael Schiro (2013). The ideologies I will discuss include: (1) the scholar academic ideology, (2) the social efficiency ideology, (3) the learner centered ideology, and (4) the social reconstruction ideology.  I will also review how my educational ideology has changed over the years and discuss how Schiro’s book has influenced my own teaching practice.

Scholar academic ideologists believe that acquiring an understanding of academic knowledge involves learning the content, conceptual framework, and ways of thinking (Schiro, 2013). Educators who subscribe to the scholar academic ideology use three main teaching methods. The three teaching methods include: didactic discourse, supervised practice, and Socratic discussions. I find myself using almost all of these teaching methodologies in my classroom.  As I develop my 5E lesson plans, I normally think of the best teaching method that I can employ efficiently and effectively to convey concepts to students.  For example, I may ask myself “is exploratory learning the best way to present this material to my students?” or “will power point presentation (didactic) or Socratic questioning be more helpful?”.  Teaching is more than knowing the content; it also involves knowing the pedagogical processes of presenting the information to students who naturally have varied interests, abilities, learning styles, and backgrounds. Thus, to effectively teach students new concepts, you have to constantly think about the best way to present the information.

In the Social Efficiency ideology, the child’s learning is not the main focus. Instead, the focus is on helping students develop the skills necessary to become productive members of society.  The Social Efficiency ideology places less emphasis on the individual needs of the child and more emphasis on the capability of the child to fulfill society’s need for skilled workers.  I take issue with this approach of educating children. I believe in educating the whole child and treating children as individuals with unique needs and unique ways of learning.  It is my strong belief, that the individual needs of each and every student must be addressed in the process of teaching and learning.  I simply cannot view my students as a means to society’s end.

The Leaner Centered ideology’s main focus is on the learner.  The child’s needs and interests are central to his/her learning and must be incorporated in the learning experience. I agree wholeheartedly with this view. As an educator, I spend a lot of time in the beginning of the semester learning my students’ interests, prior knowledge, learning styles, and abilities. I believe that in order to teach students effectively, we need to know who they are, what they like and how best they learn. Being aware of my students’ interests and ability is useful in the process of creating the experiences from which students will create their own meaning of the curriculum content and become engaged learners.

Central to the Social Reconstruction ideology is the idea that existing society is imperfect.  In other words, the society in which we reside is broken.  Social reconstructionists believe that education should not be used merely as a vehicle for fixing the flaws within our society, but should instead be used to transform the existing society into a new society that is just, moral, satisfying,  and empowering for everyone. Social reconstructionists argue that the function of schools is not to continue reproducing the existing society. Instead schools should go  beyond reflecting the wishes of the existing society by teaching students to become critical, and analytical thinkers, and to be aware of the injustices existing in our current society.

The four main educational ideologies are fluid in nature and educators may change their ideologies over time.  According to Schiro (2013), educators alter their educational ideologies due to changes in their personal and/or professional lives.  Most educators change their ideologies at least once every four years.  During my own educational career, I have changed my educational philosophy as I have gained more experience.   When I first started teaching, the Scholar Academic ideology dominated my teaching philosophy. At the time, I believed that students had to know and master the content and demonstrate their mastery through a strong performance on a standardized test.  I did not realize that there was more to education and true knowledge than just test scores.

My Scholar Academic views of education were quickly put to test during my first teaching assignment in an urban school in Baltimore. Many of my students came to school hungry and the school environment was the only place where they received two meals a day.  School also allowed them to avoid violent situations that were prevalent in their neighborhoods.  Most of my students did not have a nuclear family living in the home with them. I would say approximately 85% of my students lived with their grandparents because their biological parents were either in jail or had substance abuse issues. As an educator, I was fondly looked at by my students as a role model.  As such, I had to teach my students, through example, that education was a doorway to possibilities and opportunities for a better life.  Therefore, I was not just teaching content to my students.  Instead, I had to assume many roles: I was a father, a counselor, and an advisor.

I soon encountered the Student Centered and Social Reconstruction ideologies of education. The needs of my student necessitated that I adapt my educational philosophy to incorporate these ideologies.  There was need to meet the students where they were and to educate them on how they might be able to reconstruct what they viewed as a broken society. There was a constant friction between my views of education and the views of education held by most educators and administrators at this urban school. I had to learn and adjust my educational philosophy to fit within the context that I was experiencing.  My work as educator was to help students cope with their home situations and also to provide them with the skills necessary to escape poverty and build a better life for themselves. This included teaching them how to work cooperatively with others and how to resolve their differences through communication and not through violence. I was expected to show students that there was a whole world beyond the confines of their current neighborhoods and to empower them to change their circumstances.

When I relocated to a suburban school in Atlanta, the societal expectations changed. My new school was in an upper middle income neighborhood. School was viewed as a place where students learn the skills they need to be productive and successful members of society.  I was expected to help my students earn good grades and prepare them to attend prestigious universities across the country.  This was more in line with the Social Efficiency ideology of education, and I again found myself needing to adjust my educational philosophy. No longer was I trying to change my students’ view of society.  In this context, there was no need to change society for the better. Society was better already.  Instead, I just needed to prepare my students to become productive members of society.

To conclude, as I was reading Schiro’s book, I found myself in agreement with many of the reasons why educational ideologies may change.  Sometimes educators may change their ideologies to fit the trends in society. For example, I had to change my views of education to fit the needs of the student populations with which I was working. It is also true that changes in your own life, such as having children or starting a new degree program, can change your views on the purpose of education.  In my experience, changes in one’s personal and professional life often translate into changes in one’s educational ideology.  Overall, I enjoyed Schiro’s book as much of what he had to say resonated with my own experience as an educator.



Schiro, S. M. (2013). Curriculum Theory: Conflicting Visions and Enduring Concerns (2nd ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc

Part II: Conversations with Educators Regarding Virtual Lab Usage in Science Education

In this video I interviewed a science special education educator regarding his experiences with virtual labs in science education. I started the interview by asking him to describe his education background and how he became an educator. In addition, I asked him to describe his educational philosophy and how that philosophy fit in with the use of virtual labs. Furthermore, I asked him to describe a professional development he had received to help him use virtual labs effectively with his students. I concluded the interview by asking him to describe what he sees as the benefits and barriers of using virtual labs in science education and what adaptations he uses to ensure all students in her class benefited from virtual labs.

Part I: Conversations with Educators Regarding Virtual Lab Usage in Science Education

In this video I interviewed a physics educator regarding his experiences with virtual labs in science education. This was my first interview with teachers. I started the interview by asking him to describe his education background and how he became an educator. In addition, I asked him to describe his educational philosophy and how that philosophy fit in with the his use of virtual labs in science. Furthermore, I asked him to describe a professional development he received to help him use virtual labs effectively with his students. I concluded the interview by asking him to describe what he saw as the benefits and the barriers of using virtual labs in science education and what adaptations he employs to ensure all students in his class benefited from virtual labs.

Recomendations for Successful Curriculum Revisions

The article entitled “Principles of Effective Change: Curriculum Revision That Works” by Johnson (2001) describes a study conducted to determine factors for successful curriculum revision for teachers and school administrators in southern Iowa, United States. The purpose of the study was to determine the key elements that will affect the success of curriculum revisions at the school and district levels. In this analysis, I will describe the study design, findings, and recommendations. I will also discuss the lessons I learned from the findings and the approach that I will apply to in my role as a curriculum specialist.

Johnson (2001) used a Likert Scale Response Checklist in a mixed method study designed to solicit educational practitioners’ perspectives on factors they thought contributed to successful curriculum revisions. The Likert Scale Responses Checklist consisted of 28 response questions with six constructed response questions. In addition, four focus group interviews were conducted to substantiate and corroborate the themes and patterns developed from the Likert scale responses. The response rate from the interviews was 77%. 73% were from classroom teachers and 27% were from building level and central office leaders.

Several conclusions were derived from the study. First, participants considered in-service training to be an important component of the overall success of a curriculum revision process. Second, teachers and school administers emphasized that the importance of specific training in the curriculum revision process and a deeper understanding of the process was crucial to the success of the project. Third, consistent review and on-going training was a key component to a successful curriculum revision. The one-shot in-service training program was deemed inadequate by both educators and administrators. Fourth, it was also found that the participants’ ownership of the curriculum revision process was vital to the process.

From the study results, Johnson (2001) came up with six recommendations for successful curriculum revisions for schools and districts:

  • Direct involvement of educators and administrators in the curriculum revision process
  • A long time frame for training and revisions
  • Continuous assistance to participants during the revision process
  • The review process must be consistent throughout the revision process
  • A necessary combination of in-district expertise and out-of-district expertise
  • Better understanding of the curriculum, curriculum review, and curriculum needs by the teachers and administrators.

Lessons Learned

I found the study to be thorough. In addition, I found similar factors for successful curriculum revision in the two previous articles I analyzed. It seems that the most important factor in any curriculum revision and/or change process is the teachers’ participation. According to Blanchard (1978) and Ramparsad (2002) teacher participation in adapting curriculum increases the likelihood of a “buy-in” during the curriculum implementation phase. I wonder why curriculum change in my school district happens without utilizing this previously established empirical fact.  It’s a no brainer that most curriculum changes utilizing the top-down approach fall flat during the implementation phase. In my leadership as a curriculum manager for a school district, I will make sure that empirical evidences for successful curriculum development and implementation are incorporated in the curriculum development process in order to increase the likelihood of success of curriculum adoption at the school and district levels.



Blanchard, L. J. (1978). Creating a climate of rapid response to needs for change. Journal of Educational leadership, 37-40.

Johnson, A. J. (2001). Principles of effective change: Curriculum revision that works. Journal of Research for Educational Leaders, 4, 5-18.

Ramparsad, R. (2001). A strategy for teacher involvement in curriculum development. South African Journal of Education, 21(4): 287-292.

Change Theory and Curriculum Development

In this reflection I will discuss the article entitled “Creating a Climate of Rapid Response to Needs for Change” by Blanchard (1978). I will present the steps that Blanchard used to develop an alternative curriculum (model) for a high school.  This curriculum addressed the school’s current and future needs that were identified during discussions with the teaching staff.  Finally, I will present the lessons I learned while reading this article.

            Blanchard (1978) describes change as “exciting, refreshing, distressing, frightening, and disorienting at times.”  According to Blanchard (1978), people react differently when encountering the pressure for change.  In particular, curriculum specialists typically have one of three reactions when encountering the pressure to change a curriculum.  First, curriculum specialists may oversimplify the situation. Oversimplifying the situation generally occurs when there is a lack of sufficient information to clearly determine how the curriculum needs to change. This lack of sufficient information may lead to adopting customized solutions (ready-made curricula) or it may lead to adopting simple solutions for complex situations such as additions to curriculum that are not necessarily needed.

The second way curriculum specialists may react is to maintain the status quo. Most times, curriculum specialists may decide to keep the curriculum in place without evaluating the changing needs of society, the teachers, and the students. For example, the demographic profile of the school(s) may change and this can have a major impact on the appropriateness of the curriculum. In this situation, curriculum specialists may decide to keep the status quo because they feel like “if it isn’t broke, why fix it?” However, specialists who adopt this attitude miss the opportunity to ensure the curriculum keeps pace with the changing demographics and meets the needs of the students and teachers in the school system.   

Finally, curriculum specialists may opt for what Blanchard refers to as “bandwagonism”. Under this scenario, curriculum specialists may adopt a curriculum because it has already been adopted by other schools and districts and not because it fit the needs of the school(s) where the specialist works.

To facilitate a climate accommodating to change, Blanchard suggests that curriculum specialists should believe in the worth and contribution of individual teachers as part of the curriculum development process. According to Blanchard, teachers are integral members of the curriculum change process. Curriculum specialists must empower teachers by giving them the opportunity to identify and respond to curriculum needs within their schools and community. Furthermore, Blanchard argues that allowing teacher participation may also reduce suspicions and ensure that the curriculum is widely adopted. It may also help to avoid an atmosphere of resistance that could result from bringing a ready-made curriculum to schools and/or communities without adequate participation of teachers in the process.

In her article, Blanchard presents a case study from her work with teachers at a secondary school to develop an alternative program curriculum that reflected present and future needs of the school. With the teachers, she developed a process model for creating this alternative curriculum. The process model included: the data collection phase, the data analysis phase, the synthesis phase, the commitment phase, and the planning phase.  In the first three phases, teachers identify the current and future needs of the school that are not being addressed with the current curriculum.  In the commitment phase, the teachers select curriculum ideas that match the needs of the school.  Finally, in the planning phase, teachers identify guidelines for measuring the success of the new curriculum. The specialist then takes all of the information from these five phases and develops a curriculum that incorporates input from the teachers.

The lessons I learned from this article are that: 1) it is important for future curriculum specialists/managers such as myself to involve stakeholders in the decision making process while developing a new or an alternative curriculum; 2)  the developed curriculum must be based on present and future needs of the school system; 3) involving stakeholders in decision making improves the likelihood that there will be“ buy in” to the agreed decisions and resulting curriculum; 4) flexibility in time and schedule is paramount to ensure that there is adequate time to solicit teachers’ input; 5) it is important to trust the answers that teachers provide during the process; and 6)  it is important to be there to learn from and not supervise teachers during the process.  This article has given me a good model to follow for developing curriculum in my future work as a curriculum supervisor. 


Blanchard, L. J. (1978). Creating a climate of rapid response to needs for change. Journal of Educational leadership, 37-40.

Social Efficiency and Learner Centered Ideologies in Education

Reading through chapters 4 and 5 of the book entitled Curriculum Theory: Conflicting Visions and Enduring Concerns by Schiro (2011), I gained an in-depth understanding of what the Learner Centered and the Social Efficiency ideologies represent. In this week’s brief reflection of the two chapters, I will base my discussion on how the two ideology views the child/learner and the teacher.

In the Social Efficiency ideology, the child is not the main focus. The focus is to develop skills necessary for society’s needs. The child’s is viewed as potential adult members of the society. The Social Efficiency ideology places less emphasis on the individual needs of the child. It places more emphasis on the capability of the child to fill social needs of the society.  I take issue with this approach of educating children. I believe in educating the whole child and that other aspects of the individual child are equally as important as the capability to fulfill social needs of society. Individual needs of the child need to be addressed in the process of teaching and learning.

On the other hand, the Leaner Centered ideology’s main focus is on the learner.  The child’s needs and interests are central to his/her learning and needs to be incorporated in the learning experiences. I agree wholeheartedly with this view. As a teacher, I spend quite sometime in the beginning of the semester to learn my students’ interests, prior knowledge, and abilities. I believe that in order to teach students (kids) effectively, we need to know who they are and what they like. Being aware of students’ interests and ability is useful in the process of creating the experiences from which students will create their own meaning of the curriculum content.

The Social Efficiency ideology views a teacher as a “manager of the conditions of learning (Gagne, 1970, p. 324; as cited in Schiro, 2011). In essence the teacher’s role is to implement curriculum developed by developers with little or no input of their own. As a teacher I feel that the role of the teacher in the Social Efficiency ideology is misguided. Teachers should be able to make needed changes to the curriculum to meet students’ needs and interests. This will help students to learn, create meanings, and the skills necessary to be fully functioning members in a democratic society.

The role of the teacher in the Learner Centered ideology is to provide consultations to the child. The consultation that will help the child to reach whatever destination s/he needs to go. I am in favor of this teaching and learning approach. I see myself in this role while teaching my courses. I create experiences and put myself in the background to watch and admire as my students create their own meaning from the experience.  In conclusion, I see the value on both ideologies and I tend to borrow the goods from both in my praxis.


Schiro, S. M. (2013). Curriculum Theory: Conflicting Visions and Enduring Concerns ((2nd ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. 

Summer Vacation: St. Simons, Jekyll, and Savannah, Georgia.

Pili and Rick

We usually take our June vacation somewhere by the beach in the hot and swampy Florida. This year I was in for a change. Not changing the beach scene, but changing the vacation location altogether. It gets boring going down to the Sunshine State when you have already seen and done all the beaches and coastal towns. We made a decision to go to the beach off course, but in the home state of Georgia. So, we decided to go for a week at St. Simons Island.

The Bridge to Jekyll IslandDeciding where to go was easy, but not enough in and by itself. We had to also decide on where we would stay for the whole week. The house or hotel where we would stay had to be next to the beach and also had to have an easier access to other places in our hit list (i.e., Savannah, Jekyll, and St. Simons Islands). We ruled out hotels, condos, and apartment complexes. The reason for ruling out these places was simple—too much traffic (tourists) as we needed a secluded place just for ourselves.

Dolphin Tour Jekyll Island

We decided to rent a house. There are many rental house options in St. Simons. We wanted a house that had a pool to sock in after long bike rides in the hot afternoons. We were able to get a house three blocks from the beach which was really nice. The house had an authentic island vide with bougainvillea drapes and the best part of all it was three blocks from a serene beach. We could watch the sunset by the beach every night just by taking a shot five minutes walk. The atmosphere was very relaxing, romantic, and secluded.

So, we spent about two days in each of our hit locations. The first day, which was a Saturday, we just lounged at the pool and made some barbeque for dinner. The next day (Sunday), we went to the main street St. Simons and spent a couple of hours there riding bikes, walking at the fishing pier, saw the lighthouse,  saw the bloody marsh, and then we retreated for a swim at the main attraction swimming pool next to the Atlantic Ocean. It was so much fun.

Century Old Oak Tree

We spend the next two days visiting Jekyll Island. It is a very small version of St. Simon but packed with a lot of activities. We did the wharf boat tour. We were able to see tones of dolphins along the way. We also did the Sea Turtle Center where we saw firsthand the work that the center does to protect the marine environment and its creatures. As a marine scientist I was very impressed with the center and with the types of sea turtle species they had there. Then, we decided to see the Summer Waves Water Park. This park is kind small but the waves are worth all the money. It was really fun to hit the water again. And to finish off, we went took a tour of the historic Jekyll Island. Now I know why the rich and famous loved this island in the early 20th century.

Migrant Birds StopMy Future Parking Spot

Wednesday and Thursday, we went to Savannah. Unlike St. Simon and Jekyll Islands, Savannah is a big city. It was not possible to cover the entire city of Savannah in a single day. We had to be strategic. We decided to only do two things: 1) take the bus tour and a walking tour in the first day, 2) do shopping along the river the next day. The bus tour was fantastic. Savannah is rich of history and culture. Later on we walked the trail following the civil war battles that ended in Savannah. Tired and ready to sleep we drove back to St. Simon for our night. We concluded our vacation by seating back and relaxing at the pool.

The Beach

Till next time………

Tanzania Education System: Why Change It?

Each year and each time the National Examination results (Standard Seven, Form Four, and Form Six) are announced, the discussion regarding the failures of the education system in Tanzania pops up.  The central question in these discussions is whether or not the education system is meeting its goals of educating the Tanzanian youth? TWAWEZA’s  data (2011-2012) from a cross-sectional studies in over 38 districts of the Tanzanian education system highlights some of the issues and the difficulties facing the system. Access the report here. Findings from this cross-sectional study paints a gleam picture. At the primary, secondary, and high school levels, majority of our children are not learning and not acquiring practical  and problem-solving skills needed to be successful in life and for post primary education. The skills gap is much wider between rural and urban primary, secondary, and high schools. This skill gap has created a rural-urban divide on how children access quality education in Tanzania.

Major Issues Facing the Education System in Tanzania

Tanzania has a K-13 education system. It starts with the kindergarten level for one year, the primary level for seven years, the secondary school level for four years, and the advanced secondary school level for two years.  Currently, there is a multifaceted primary school education in Tanzania composed of English Medium Schools (the very minority) from political and affluent families and those attending regular primary education (the majority). And Within the regular education system, the facility and staffing quality differences between schools in rural areas and those in urban areas are quite staggering.

Those attending regular primary schools in rural areas normally lack books, teaching aids, and are schooled in dilapidated teaching environment. Furthermore, they have teachers who are ill-prepared to teach the courses that are assigned to them to teach. Furthermore, there are no professional development opportunity for the teachers to engage in professional learning and development. Professional development activities that will enhance proficiency in their teaching, teaching methods, in the medium of instruction, and  finally mastery of content.

The teaching culture also needs to change to reflect the changing student needs. It should be reasonable for student to engage in a discussion with the teacher and other students without fearing retaliations. The fact that students are scared to ask questions in class is very troublesome. Teachers are supposed to be facilitators of children’s search for knowledge. It is the duty and responsibility of each teacher to encourage children to ask questions, to guide children in their thirsty and hunger for knowledge. How are children going to learn if they do not have the opportunity to ask questions? What type of citizens are we producing? Citizens who cannot ask questions? Citizens who cannot analyze issues? I always ask myself why we entirely depend on the people who failed to teach our kids. Failures produce failures in my book.

Change Requires Clear Vision

To counteract these issues, the government of Tanzania needs to be at the forefront. The government needs to develop goals on how the educations system in Tanzania should look like for the short and long term.

Questions like:

What knowledge is of most worth to the youth in Tanzania?

What research based-teaching strategies are best for achieving this knowledge?

What educational management model would be best for achieving the knowledge we seek to impart to our children?

Who will pay for the cost of providing this knowledge?

These questions needs to be asked and thoroughly explored. Without a clear plan, it will be impossible to measure if the education system is actually addressing the needs for the short and long terms. In assessing the education program we need to ask ourselves:

What our standard seven graduates need to know and  be able to do?

What our form four graduates need to know and be able to do?

What our Form Six graduates need to know and be able to do?

Further Issues to Explore: Why are Tanzanian Youngsters not Learning?

There is not a single answer to this question. Several factors contribute this issue in one way or the other.

Learning Activities

Learning activities used in most classrooms do not reflect the interests of children. We are still using teaching strategies that are outdated, non-engaging and based on memorization to teach children whose attention spans have changed over the years. Most of the digital-age children have very short attention and memory spans. Lecturing for hours without interactive activities, hands-on-activities, and experiential learning activities will not be beneficial to them. In my opinion, we cannot continue to teach non interactive lessons, lessons that don’t address children brain development theories, motivation theories, cognitive theories, and expect our children to learn. In addition, teacher absenteeism, lack of classroom resources, and pathetic salaries contribute to the failures seen.

Research to what interests our kids to learn is needed

I plea for Colleges “UDSM , SUA, and UDOM” to do research aimed at finding out what exactly interests our young people today. Our this is known, these colleges could be at the forefront in the development of curricula that reflects these interests. A bottom up approach  for developing curricula from the the school level, the district level, the regional level, and the country at large needs to be used. Matching students interests, intelligences, learning style preferences with instruction has been shown to improve students’ interests and academic performance.

Curricular Should be Regional Rather Than National

Tanzania is a huge country. Curricula diversification is very important.  What kids learn in Mtwara should reflect the challenges and opportunities available to them. Kids should learn through solving real life problems facing their community. What kids learn in Tabora, should reflect issues that are directly linked to their own society. We need to move past the one-size-fits-all mentality in education policy formulation, delivery, and especially the curricula itself.

The Age Factor

For primary education the age factor needs to be seriously discussed. In my views, Standard Seven graduates are indeed too young to participate meaningfully in any civil and citizenship responsibilities. For example, getting a job at the age of 13-to-14 years is almost impossible in the current work-force-system or structure in Tanzania. I certainly believe that raising the end of school age to Form Four for all will adequately help to give our youth enough time to grow physically, mentally, and academically for them to participate fully in their nation building work and in realizing their potentials.

Secondary School for All Kids

The money factor and the school structure needs to be discussed openly. Like I said earlier a bottom-up approach will do more good than harm. It will be a huge undertaking but it would be worth the effort in the end. Indeed, a whole generation of talented Tanzanians  are left behind with the current system. For example, I was one of those luck persons who passed the Standard Seven examination alone in my school. I do not believe that I was the smartest. I have no idea where the standard seven friends I left behind are doing right now. It is a shame that I left a lot of them behind to fend for themselves at the age of 13-to-14 years old.

Probably knowing the life time income differential between a primary school graduate and a secondary school graduate in Tanzania will help in narrowing down the options on which way to go. There are no data at the moment, however, I believe those who attends secondary schools will have an upper hand on this. Once it is known for fact that secondary school graduates earn more on average that primary school graduates, then, the government can be compelled to allow secondary education for all kids. If indeed, secondary school graduates make substantially more income over the course of their lives, then I am for expanding those opportunities to all our young men and girls.

Smoky Mountains, Tennessee and Ballet Recitals

Image There are so many ways to spend your week-end here in Atlanta without going into your wallet. Don’t take this literally though, because you will have to shell some cash for gas, drinks, and food. For starters, there are numerous outdoor festivals going on each week-end; the many parks, lake Lanier activities, and the nearby (Smokey) Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. You can do it all if you happen to like a week-end filled with fun and excitement.Image

It has become our tradition to spend a week-end away from home every now and then during spring, summer, and fall. The weather is just too nice to spend the whole week-end in the gloomy and traffic ridden Atlanta. I am not trying to say that Atlanta’s week ends aren’t fun. I live in the city each and every-day and therefore a change of venue now and then is warranted.  I feel like week-ends are times well spent somewhere close to Mother Nature. Week-ends are timesImage to explore a different landscape, a different way of earning a living, a different of way of approaching the daunting task that is life.Image

Thus last week-end was no different. We took off Friday evening for a time on the slopes of the Smokey. A great a place to visit and to distress. There are plenty of hiking trails, river flows, and water-falls to see and indulge on. We had a blast! Probably we might consider the Smokey again before the summer gets-out.Image

On another note, yesterday evening was my daughter’s recitals for her ballet classes. So we rushed down from the Smokey after an early lunch so we can be with her and her friends. It was awesome. The dancers represented not only ballet dance but also all sorts of dances from around the globe. So, I will leave you with the photos of Pili from the recitals.

                  “While others accumulate things, I chose to accumulate memories

High Stakes Standardized Testing in America: The History

Are they being tested too much?
When is enough is enough?

This essay will explore the history of testing in American education, the introduction of standardized testing in American Secondary Education, the philosophical underpinning of these events, the historical perspectives, and the ethical standpoint that led to where we are today. In addition, the essay will also touch on the ontological perspectives, axiological perspectives, and the epistemological perspectives regarding testing and what it means for students to KNOW something that they were taught and how we measure/define knowing.

The frequency with which students are assessed for content understanding and general attainment of information has been rising in the American Education System (Madaus & Clarke, 2001). Currently in Most County Schools students are tested 8-14 times per semester. Those are just state and county mandated tests including benchmarks, Students’ Learning Outcomes (SLOs), and high school graduation tests. When teacher created tests and quizzes are included, an individual student taking a four class load in a block schedule would have been tested 20-25 times by the end of each semester. It is my belief that this frequency of testing is excessive. Subjecting students to this high frequency of testing and the magnitude some of these tests bear each testing period is ridiculous to say the least. In my view, I do not believe that the high-stakes tests and the frequency in which they are offered improve accountability for teachers, administrators or school districts. If this was the case, Finland would not be ranked number 1 in the world for science and mathematics since Finland only test its secondary students just twice in their secondary education careers (Washington Post, 2012).

In America, policymakers argue that in-order to improve students’ performance teacher, administrators, and school districts need to be held accountable for students’ achievement (Ravitch, 2002).  However, the frequency under which these tests are offered has been found to be associated with students not taking testing in general seriously anymore (Ravitch, 2002). Despite of the increase in testing frequency, American students’ scores when ranked with their peers in the developed world around the world has been declining steadily (Washington Post, 2012).

Testing and methods for measuring students understanding of content can be traced to the Socratic era in ancient Greece. During the Socratic era, students were asked to respond to questions posed by their instructor to gauge their understanding of concepts and to encourage their critical thinking. Socrates used a dialogue between himself and his students to gauge their understanding and to help them create their own understanding of concept. Even before Socrates, conversational dialogue was used to assess students’ understanding and knowing (Frost, 1989).

Testing in the American Education System was modeled after education systems in Europe.  Colonists brought the idea of testing with them when they founded schools in the newly formed United States (Urban & Wagoner, 2009). Testing can be traced directly to the one-room schools and the church schools in colonial America (Urban & Wagoner, 2009). Even apprenticeship schools used testing to gauge mastery of student’s learning. Testing was never used to evaluate the teachers’ effectiveness at that time and students who failed were deemed to be incapable of learning and therefore were subsequently left behind (Madaus & Clarke, 2001).

In the late 1800s, prestigious universities including Harvard, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, and Yale introduced college entrance examinations as a basis for admission.  Other universities did not have this requirement.  To further complicate the issue, each prestigious university had its own separate entrance exam.  The different requirements for admission at each of the universities, led school principals and parents to complain that is was difficult to prepare students for the multitude of college entrance exams at these universities.  To harmonize the process, the College Entrance Examination Board was created to prepare and oversee a single test for college admission (Urban & Wagoner, 2009). This was the beginning of the standardized tests phenomenon that we see today in the education system in America.

In the early 1900s teachers also were required to take entrance exams. But, once they were interviewed and offered a job with an interviewing panel that included a clergy and the local school board members, a teacher would never again be subjected to testing related to their performance, suitability and/or capacity to teach. Testing for results based accountability in the American education is a contemporary phenomenon (Ravitch, 2002).

Moreover, the early 1900s was a tumultuous time in education. This is the time when educational psychology was introduced into the education field. Education psychologists believe that there is a need to justify education as a scientific endeavor. Thus, demonstrating that education can be measured through experimentation and testing was a major aim of educational psychologists at the time.  The leading educational psychologist of the early 20th century, Edward L Thondike, was determined to demonstrate that education is an exact science through education testing. Most education psychologists of the 1920s and the 1930s were heavily interested in devising a testing instrument to help teachers diagnose students’ understanding of concepts and consequently to develop interventions based on data. However, the educational psychologists of the time never intended for their tests and data accumulated from the testing to be used for educational accountability.

The 1930s witnessed the Great Depression. Due to e economic hardship of the period, education progressives gained huge influence. They wanted schools to be friendly to students who were not interested in traditional schooling. Educational progressives of the time cared more about students’ adjustment in schools. The emphasis on a child’s social adjustment took the front seat over grades, subject mastery and discipline (Urban & Wagoner, 2009). They started using the testing instrument developed by educational psychologists to identify and develop remedial education for disinterested kids in schools. These educational progressive felt that education was a right for all children and believed in the philosophy that every child can learn. This era was the beginning of social promotion as we know it today. All these events happened at the time when there were no job to be had by high school dropout during the peak of the depression and therefore keeping kids in school was a better option at the time. The testing that was done during this period was mainly to inform teachers where students were and how to device learning goals to help them learn. The data collected had no bearing to student’s promotion nor was it used as a tool for evaluating the performance of teachers, administrators, or school districts.

The 1950s and early 1960s were a special time in American education. From the Sputnik report, the decisions of Wade vs. Board of Education, and the release of the book “What Ivan knows that Jonny Doesn’t?” created an atmosphere for educationists and policymakers to try to find answers to what was perceived to be going wrong with the education system in America (Urban & Wagoner, 2009). The reports, the book, and the decisions for equal education opportunities for all Americans lead in one way or another to the introduction of data driven accountability in the American Secondary Education System.

The report by sociologist James Coleman in 1966 entitled “Equality of Educational Opportunities” was the landmark report that started to pique the interest of policymakers in using achievement data to hold teachers, administrators, and districts accountable for student’s low performance. The report was significant in many ways including its emphasis on a shift from input oriented education system to results oriented education system. Prior to this report, educationalists believed that many of the low achieving problems in the school systems will eventually be eliminated through more funding. The Coleman report shifted the emphasis onto accountability. This shift led many policymakers to start examining how school resources affected student’s performance and achievement. The 1960s was a very interesting time in America. Events such as the civil rights movement provided most of the impetus to what was happening in the education system. The drive for education equality and opportunities for all Americans led to more scrutiny on student’s score data. The gap that existed and that continues to exist between white Americans and other minorities groups especially African Americans, pushed for accountability in education to improve achievement for the racially disadvantaged groups.

The establishment of the National Assessment of Education Progress and the Department of Education in the 1970s also led to a shift from inputs (resource) to outputs (results).  This shift was fueled by the readily available testing data which allowed policy makers to compare student achievement across regions and ethnic groups.  The international testing of mathematics and science provided even more data on how American secondary school students faired when compared to students from other industrialized nations. The fact that American students performed poorly on mathematics and science tests when compared to other industrialized countries added more pressure for policymakers to tie student’s achievement to teachers, administrators, and districts and to hold them accountable for poor student performance. 

The 1960s and 1970s also witnessed a growing tension between the professional educators who believed in the input model (resources will solve the underachievement problems) and the policymakers’ output model (results and accountability will drive instruction). Public pressures from parents, stakeholders and policymakers to see improvement in the low achievement scores among minority groups have kept the focus on using standardized testing for accountability. In the 2000s, laws like “The No Child Left Behind Act” and “Race To The Top,” new evaluation systems such as Teacher Keys were introduced.  These laws and evaluation systems placed renewed emphasis on using standardized testing as a mechanism for accountability.

Currently, there is a war between these two camps or paradigms in the American Education System. On one hand, the results from accountability and data driven evaluation have shown some promise in states such as Massachusetts, Virginia, Texas, and North Carolina (Ravitch, 2002). The achievement gap between blacks and white students in these states has narrowed after the introduction of results based assessment for teachers, administrators, and school districts. However, elsewhere in the country the results are mixed, and in many states and districts across the country, the achievement gap between the racial groups—whites and Asians on one hand and blacks and Latinos on the other—is widening even faster.  On the other hand, professional educators argue that more resources are needed to narrow this achievement gap as educational budgets have been continually slashed over the past decade.

Presently, American education will continue to be dominated with these two paradigms: the professional education paradigm who believes increased resources will solve the problems and the policymaker paradigm who believes public education should follow the business model of incentives and sanctions based on performance. As the war wages on, whatever paradigm wins will determine the direction that the American education system will go. In my view, it is going to be very difficult to change the current testing culture to include performance-based assessment that measure what students’ can do. The pressure put forth by the testing companies, businesses and universities who are profiting magnificently from the current testing environment is too great for policymakers to ignore. I am most definitely sure that all the testing companies will join hands to fight tooth and nails whoever is trying to change the current system that is benefiting them greatly (Frediriksen, 1984).

While the battle rages on, both camps need to realize that:

  • Throwing money at education by and in itself rarely produce results. To achieve improvement system-wide, focused approach and long-term strategies are needed.
  • Good teachers are essential to high-quality education. Treatment of teachers as valuable professionals including a living wage will be helpful.
  • The cultural assumptions and values surrounding education can do more to support or undermine it.
  • Education system should strive to keep parents informed and work with them. Parents are neither impediments to nor saviors of education.
  • Education systems need to consider what skills today’s students will need in future and teach accordingly. Teaching for the present job opportunities is a disservice to our young people because most of jobs they will be working on are possibly not created yet.

There is no argument that knowledge is important.  The question, however, is how we assess that knowledge.  While in today’s school environment standardized testing is the main method utilized for assessing students’ knowledge, Socratic dialogue and other dialogue techniques is a better method for assessing student knowledge.  For the Greeks being able to articulate concepts and being  able to do the task or the skills associated with the learning experience was  a basis for ensuring students had adequately grasped the concepts conveyed by the teacher (Frost, 1989).  In contrast, standardized tests merely diagnose what students have learned on a prescribed curriculum rather than what they can do or perform (e.g. report writing, synthesizing information, conducting basic and advanced research topic).  These tests are therefore, limited in their ability to truly measure what students have learned during a course (Madaus & Clarke, 2001).

For me, the pendulum has swung too far over to using standardized tests as measures of accountability.  Instead, I would like to see more performance based testing used in the classroom which measures what students can do with their knowledge and less standardized testing which only simplistically measures recall of basic information.  Others, however, have argued that performance based assessment also has limitations including time constraints, resource constraints, and the training required to effectively assess students’ knowledge with these methods (Linn, 2013).  While I acknowledge these potential limitations, I firmly believe that performance based assessment is a critical component of a comprehensive assessment of student achievement based on my years of teaching. The use of standardized testing as the sole method for assessing student performance is inadequate and short sighted.  If we truly want to understand if students have absorbed the material and are able to apply this knowledge in their everyday lives, we need to include performance based testing as part of a comprehensive assessment strategy. 




Best Education in the World: Finland, South Korea Top World Rankings, U.S. Ranked Moderate (2012). Washington Post: Accessed:

Frederiksen, N. (1984). The real test bias: Influences of testing on teaching and learning.

          American Psychologist 39(2), 78-81.

Frost, S. E. (1989). Basic teachings of the great philosophers. Garden City, NY: Random House, Inc.

Madaus, G. F., & Clarke, M.(2001). The adverse impact of high stakes testing on minority students: evidence from 100 years of test data. In G. Orfield and M. Kornhaber (Eds.), Raising standards or raising barriers? Inequality and high stakes testing in public education. New York: The Century Foundation.

Ravitch, D.(2002). A brief history of testing and accountability. Accessed:

Urban, J. W., & Wagoner, L. J.(2009). American education: A history. New York, NY:  Taylor & Francis.

Wiggins, G. (1989). A true test: Toward more authentic and equitable assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, 70(9), 703-713.

Wiggins, G. (1988). Rational numbers: Scoring and grading that helps rather than hurts learning. American Educator, 20(25), 45- 48



Scientific Cheating Catalog: The Mismeasure of Man

Scientific Cheating Catalog: The Mismeasure of Man

The book “the mismeasure of man” chapters 3 and 4, Gould discusses further some of the ways that scientists have cheated either intentionally or unintentionally. I have cataloged some of those instances I found to be fascinating in these two chapters below.
1) Francis Galton (1822-1911) was Darwin’s cousin. He used numbers to construct the so called beauty map of the British Isles and he also suggested a method for quantifying boredom. He could back up his methods by numbers; however as we all have come to know–interpreters of numbers as Galton was are often times trapped by their own priori convictions (page 107).
2) Robert Bennett Bean in 1906 published a long technical article comparing the brains of American blacks and whites. He was a practicing physician and through his research he found –according to him, meaningful differences in that black are inferior to whites. He used the relative sizes of the parts of the corpus callosum to justify that blacks are inferior to whites since they have smaller genu, hence less brain in the front seat of intelligence (page 109).
3) Paul Broca (1861) was a professor of clinical surgery in the faculty of medicine and the founder of the Anthropological Society of Paris in 1859. He was the strongest supporter of the ideas that brain sizes constituted the differences in intelligence among the races. Again, even after extensively restudying Morton’s method, Broca still was another victim of his own preconceived notion about blacks. He and the society he lived in held deep beliefs that blacks were an inferior race (page 114-125).
4) E. D. Cope was the most celebrated American paleontologist who came up with the idea of recapitulation. In recapitulation the idea is that adults of inferior groups (i.e., blacks) are like children of superior groups (i.e., white male). Cope identified 4 groups of human forms following this criterion: nonwhite races, all women, southern as opposed to northern European whites, and lower classes within superior races (page 144).
5) B. Kidd used the recapitulation argument to justify colonial expansion into tropical Africa. He wrote “dealing with peoples who represent the same stage as that of children in the history of the development of individuals in the white race. The tropics will not, therefore, be developed by the natives themselves”. To that end, recapitulation is indeed still used in many circles in the west as a justification for imperialism and economic colonization of Africa (page 147).
This does remind me of the many things I have heard and seen on TV this and many years past. I will use the past presidential election as an example. If you happened to watch MSNBC and Fox news simultaneously, you would have thought the election was too close to call. Each of these TV news channels had their own statisticians manipulating the numbers to meet the expectations of the pre-conceived notions of their viewers. For Fox news, Mitt Romney was a winner long before the election-day and for MSNBC news, Obama was a declared winner weeks ahead of the election-day. This shows how prior convictions can have a huge impact on the way data is collected and computed to fit the fore mentioned prior notion.
In addition, another contentious today’s issue that priori conviction is at play is global warming. Global warming is one of those issues that scientific consensus has almost been reached. However, you still have few scientists who are using data from geological times to justify the fact the earth has cooled and warmed in times past and that, perhaps what we are experiencing now—might just be one of those natural circles. Therefore, there should be no cause for concern.
On the other hand you have scientists who have accumulated great amount of data supporting the argument that global warming is caused by excessive burning of fossil fuel causing the accumulation of greenhouse gasses. I am leaning on the latter camp. It might be just because of the environment awareness time that I am in and if the former a proven to be collect—future generations will debate this issue in light of our prior conventions the same way we are talking about scientists such as Broca and their ideas regarding biological determinism and inferiority of the blacks and other minority races to whites.
To conclude, most of the research we are conducting as researchers today are somewhat clouded by our own views and the societal expectations of the time—our time. Yes, better scientific method have been developed to minimize the effect of priori conventions in data collection and interpretations through the development of the scientific method, but still as we are humans, our prior notions most times shows up in the results sections. Therefore, numbers alone are not all that important at all if confounded with prior-convictions.
Gould, J. S. (1996). The mismeasure of man. New York: NY. W.W. Norton &Company, Inc.

Transformation Theories: A Reflection

By: Shaaban Fundi
In this essay I will discuss transformative theory of learning through four different lenses or approaches. These approaches include Mezirow’s psychocrtitical approach/theory, Daloz’s psychodevelopmental perspectives, Paulo Freire’s sociocultural theory and Boyd’s psychoanalytical approach. I will then, discuss the similarities and differences among these four lenses of transformative learning. Furthermore, I will discuss my views regarding the theories of transformative learning and to whether or not the theories have changing my world view (epistemology) over the years.

Mezirow (1997) defines transformative learning as the process that affects change in persons’ frame of reference. He argues that adults have over the years developed experiences that define their world. Because of this body of experience we tend to “reject ideas that fail to fit our preconceptions” (Mezirow, 1197, p.5). In Mezirow’s psychocritical approach, meaning structures are differentiated into three categories–frame of reference, habits of mind and point of view. In addition, for transformative learning to take place Mezirow argues that transformation must take place in our belief system, attitude and our entire perspectives. And, experience, critical reflection, reflective discourse, and action are central phenomenon in Mezirow’s psychocritical transformative learning theory.
Despite a well-developed theory put forth by Mezirow, critics argue that there is too much overreliance on rationality. According to Merrian, 2004 (as cited on Merrian, S., Caffarerra, R., & Baumgartner, L, 2007, p.136) “one’s cognitive development may influence his or her ability to experience a perspective transformation.” Thus, refuting rationality as the major cause of transformative learning.

According to Daloz, 1986 education is a transformational journey geared at enhancing development in an individual. The focus of transformation in Daloz’psychodevelopmental perspective relies on stories of the journey that someone takes to expand his or her world view. Dialogues and discourse are integral part of the transformation process his perspectives. On the other hand, Boyd “sees transformation as an inner journey resulting into greater personal consciousness (Merrian at al., 2007, p. 139). Boyd also places greater emphasis on the importance of dialogue or discourse for transformation to occur.
The major similarity amongst all these three theories of transformational learning is that they all place a greater emphasis on the discourse and/or dialogue. The difference between Boyd’s perspectives and Mezirow’s theory are that Boyd focused on the importance of stories on the journey towards transformation and Mezirow does not.

The last theory of transformation I will briefly discuss is the sociocultural transformation learning theory by Brazilian educator Paulo Freire. His theory emerged from the context of poverty, illiteracy, and oppression and focuses mainly on social change. Paulo classifies consciousness in three categories: i) magical (no control over own life, everything is externally influenced), ii) Midway (people starting understanding that they have some level of control and can change their circumstances), iii) critical consciousness (people are fully aware of forces that shape one’ life) (Merrian at al., 2007, p.141).
Central to all the four theories of transformational learning is the idea that through dialogue and/or discourse a person involved in a transformative learning experience can move to a frame of reference that is “more inclusive, discriminating, self-reflective, and integrative of all experiences” (Mezirow, 1997, p. 5). I see myself going through this transformation, especially in the sociocultural view point. Over the years I was stuck in the mindset that the problems in my community were too big and I thought too much external forces beyond my control were at play. But as I engaged in self-reflection and dialogue with others, I am now seriously thinking that most of the problems I have seen and continue to see in my community have solutions from within rather than from without.

I will highlight one issue here as an example. The village I grew up in, does not have a library or a computer center where young people and others can access information. There are three secondary schools and one teacher’s college in the area. I looked at the problem and felt helpless in the beginning. But, last year I decided to take action and started to collect used laptop and desktop computers from friends and co-workers for a small learning center. I named the center Kibogoji Experiential Learning Center, Inc. Currently I have 7 computers and bought enough bricks to build just a single room for the center. It is not operational yet, but I feel like this will no longer be a problem in my village the near future.

This example shows the power of transformation through education. It is imperative through education to understand forces that shape one’s life and in the process to become an active agent of change by creating a more just reality for all. I have changed from the mindset that external forces are in charge (the blame game) to becoming a person that will transform part of my previous world. Thanks to education and its transformative forces.

I am trying to instill this kind of transformative education to my students. Teaching them not just lecture hall related subjects but also “teaching them the ability to lift themselves by rethinking and reconfiguring their frame of reference.” To achieve this transformative education, I use research based and theory derived teaching strategies such as blending gizmos with tradition teaching to empower students to create their own meaning from text and/or concepts (Shunk, 2012, p.293).


Shunk, D. H.(2012). Learning theories:An educational perspectives (6th. Ed.). New York: Pearson.
Merrian, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass.
Mezirow, J. (1997). Transformative learning: Theory to practice. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 74

Andragogy: My Education Philosophy

I believe that education is a collaborative process between the educator and the students. I feel that educators should recognize that students bring their own experience and skills to the classroom. In other words educators should view their students as active partners in the learning process and not as passive participants. In so doing, the educator and the students can learn from each-other to enhance content and general knowledge understanding for both parties. In this essay, I will present a brief overview of my personal belief about education and educating students, I will explain my views on what roles educators should play and what roles students should play to making learning a meaningful experience for both students and educators.

First, I believe that the role of an educator is to introduce students to new ideas and skills and then assist them in integrating those ideas and skills into their own experiences. I am not fond of the uni-directional learning approach whereby the educator imparts knowledge to the learner. Instead I subscribe to the bi-directional learning approach whereby the educator and students work hand in hand/together to discover knowledge and meaning. In this era of multiple accesses to information, educators cannot be and should not try to be the sole source of information to students. In fact, educators should use different type of presenting information to students such as lecture, video, computer related technologies, guest speakers and field trips.

In addition, educators should help students to think through issues critically. And challenge students to see the relevance of education to their lives. By doing so, the educator would cultivate a student culture that values new information and also are able to integrate the skills and ideas they have learned into their own world view and perspectives. In addition, educators should foster a lifelong love of learning in their students that will continue on long after class has ended.

Second, educators have a responsibility to create an environment in the classroom that encourages students to actively participate in their learning. Students should be made to feel that it is safe to express their thoughts and feelings without fear of reprisals from either the educator or other students. I strongly believe that this is one of the responsibilities of a reflective and professional educator. And again, without creating an environment of mutual respect between the educator and the students; and amongst the students themselves, no real learning will happen. Therefore it is paramount for educators to take their responsibilities serious and to create a classroom environment and culture that is conducive and receptive to learning for all. For instance, the educator is responsible for setting the tone of all discussions as one of mutual respect where everyone’s ideas are viewed as important contribution. It is important that the educator create an atmosphere where certain students-whether because of race, gender, national origin, or educational attainment- do not feel marginalized. All students should feel equally valuable to the learning process.

Third, educators also have the responsibility to come fully prepared for the classroom session. I believe that educators have the responsibility to fully research the topic and have a good grasp of the subject matter before making any demonstration and/or presentation to the students. Being well prepared helps an educator to reduce a lot of the commotion and misbehavior issues that impedes students’ learning. Educators have the responsibility to develop clear, straightforward presentations of material that can be easily understood by students. Educators should facilitate student participation by encouraging students to ask questions throughout the presentation and by pausing at specific junctures to ask students their thought and/or opinion on the material. The learning material needs to be chunked-up and delivered in a way that meets the multiple learning styles and needs of the students. Educators should make their lessons and all the learning activities relevant to their students’ lives and interests.

Undoubtedly, technology and other social media usage in the classroom help students to stay engaged and on task throughout the lesson. Therefore, educators should use multiple teaching strategies to meet all their students’ learning needs inside and outside the class sessions. Tapping into the social media can potentially be a helpful learning experience for both the students and the teachers. Currently there are several social media gadgets that are educator and student friendly. These gadgets can be used to provide instant assessment and feedback to student and also to keep students interest in the lesson for the entire length of the period.

In terms of students’ responsibilities to the learning process, first, I think that students have a responsibility to be prepared when they come to class by doing the necessary readings, and bringing the required supplies. I also believe that they have the responsibility to be active participants in their own learning. Students who are well prepared for class by doing the necessary reading and by attending tutorials generally do better on tests and quizzes. They also appear to really enjoy the course and the material presented in class. This is just speaking from my own observations and experience as a classroom/lecture hall educator.

Second, students must also be willing to critically examine their own attitudes and be open to new ideas and ways of viewing the world. Students, who are open to new information, will likely be able to integrate the new information into their own realm of thinking. Therefore, it is crucial for students to not be closed minded as in doing so they fail to acquire new skills and information necessary for them to grow academically and professionally.

Third, students must be willing to engage in the discussions and work together with the teacher and other students to challenge their pre-conceived notions and expand their knowledge base. It is imperative for students to be able to share their experiences among themselves and with the teacher during group discussions. This will not only foster a sense of belonging in the class but will also help the students to integrate the new skills into their own frame of reference and therefore building a deeper meaning of what they are learning.

Thus, learning in one hand is a collaborative process in which students and educators have unique roles to play. The educator must be well informed about the subject matter and the pedagogy that drives the instruction. In addition, the educator must be able to create a conducive and respectful environment for-all-in-the classroom and should foster students’ learning using a variety of learning and teaching strategies. On the other hand, students should be willing to critically examine their own altitude and be open to new ideas and ways of viewing the world around them. For example, students should be willing to engage in the discussions and work together with each other and the teacher to challenge their pre-conceived notions and expand their knowledge base.

Antique Car Show, Embry Hills, Georgia


First I will admit my ignorance to cars—new and olds. Today I took a spin in my neighborhood just looking for something beautiful to take a shot of. An expectedly I ran into a car show. This is an annual event where people showcase their vintage cars. It was beautiful all around.

Enjoy the shots and a happy beautiful Saturday in Atlanta. It’s gorgeous out-there!

Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!
Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!
The Steering Wheel
The Steering Wheel
Anaother Beauty
Anaother Beauty
For Sale $5500
For Sale $5500
The Horns
The Horns
Chrome Shinning!
Chrome Shinning!
Cadillac Beauty
Cadillac Beauty
The Lights are Amazing
The Lights are Amazing
No Words
No Words
Another Cutie
Another Cutie
Pretty Faces
Pretty Faces

I like the colors and the contrast in this picture

Will the “Kiswahili only” Language of Instruction Model be the Answer for the Massive Failures in Tanzania?

This debate come and go every year when the dismal pass rates of our secondary and primary school students are announced. This year, this same debate came with a twist. The guardian newspaper reported recently that the Deputy Minister for Education and Vocational Training Philipo Mulugo and the government of Tanzania are in the process of drafting a new policy to make Kiswahili the language of instruction in both primary and secondary schools in Tanzania.

It is indeed true that the current system is not working. Everyone agrees with this premise. To make this situation worse, there is no ideal solution to the problem. This problem is so complex and multi-faceted.

While I see the value of a Kiswahili only model in improving students’ scores and comprehension for all the subjects matter, I fear that this new system will only perpetuate the already existing stratified education system in Tanzania between the very few “ the haves” and the majority of the “have-nots”. The “haves” will continue to send their children to English Medium Schools while the poor will be stuck with the Swahili only schools, creating a country of masters and slaves in the not too far future. If we are not already there?

Is this what we really want?

the path to improving the system relies on a strengthened bilingual education system model.  A strengthened bilingual education system model will put enough resources to colleges to be able to teach teachers the current research based teaching methods which will not only benefit educators but, students as well. To provide professional development opportunities for teachers by improving their working conditions, to pay them a livable wage, and to attract more people to become teachers. Furthermore, to encintivise the good teachers to stay in the profession for a long enough time for them to become competent and efficient educators. Without those kinds of incentives, the change of language of instruction alone will not yield anything worthwhile.

The argument that changing just the language of instruction will yield the desired results is flawed. Don’t we already have English teachers in these schools? Why then are the students not learning English proficiently?The problem impacting the education system in Tanzania is not largely due to the language of instruction.  If that was the case, we would see a huge pass rate in primary schools where mostly everything is taught in Kiswahili. The TWAWEZA report on this matter last year point to the contrary. Kids are not learning anything worthwhile in primary school either.

Resources needs to be improved, from teacher quality, the teaching environment, and to teaching tools.

I realize that there is a huge difference between learning English and being taught in English. Switching just the language of instruction will not be the solution to the massive failure rates in both primary and secondary schools. The problem is deeper than that. Huge systematic and policy changes need to happen before we see a real and meaningful uptick in the pass rates. Maybe pairing our existing teachers with teachers from abroad over a long time “ten years” could be something to be explored. The East Asian countries used this model and they are doing very well. Maybe we can learn from them this time around.

Tanzania Form IV Results 2011: Abysmal Again.

Once again, it is that time of the year when the Form IV results from the Tanzania National Examination Council comes out.  To be specific, the 2011 Form Results were officially announced yesterday.  This is the time when I post the snippets of what has happened with the numbers. My prediction looking to the future last year was that, the pass rates percentages will remain largely low in the foreseeable future.

The major factors contributing to the low performance are many. I will list just a few: 1) The Ward school’s lack of well qualified staffs and resources and 2) The social promotion of those who failed Form II Examination is catching up with the ill-advised policy, 3) Lack of English proficiency for the language of instruction for both students and teachers, 4) Lack of content knowledge and  pedagogical skills for the teachers (quality instructional practices).

Here is the breakdown (Tanzania Form Four, Pass Rates 2011a) of the number for the 2011 just announced results. Out of 459,324 students who registered to take the examination, 426,314 students took the exams and 53.37% of them passed it.  There was a 2.63% uptick in pass rates for this year comparing to last year’s results of 50.74%. The 2011 results are still approximately 20% drop from the 2009 pass rate of 72.51%.

Just looking at the numbers on the attached Excel graph, there is no significant performance improvement graphically speaking. Failure rate stabilization is the correct term to use in this year’s characterization of the Form IV results.

The results provided by NECTA did not provide a meaningful disaggregation of the 53.37 pass rate for this year. Meaningful numbers of the 53.37% who passed the exams; how many got division Ones, twos, threes and fours? Those numbers would offer a better picture than the pass rate comparison that is currently used. Here is graphical representation of the(Kwiro Center Form IV Results 2011 ) in Mahenge-Ulanga, Morogoro.

Maybe the failure rates have hit the bottom, but I would not say that there was a performance improvement in exams results this year. The numbers will largely stay at this level for years to come until the four factors I mentioned earlier have been addressed.

Analyzing the Mv. Spice Islander Investigation Report in Light of Mv. Nyerere Ferry Sinking in Mwanza.

According to credible reports, “MV Spice Islander” had a maximum human loading capacity of 600 passengers. However, at the time of its sinking, it was carrying 2470 passengers. That is four times the maximum allowed. Further reports says, 941 passengers survived, 203 passengers lost their lives and 1326 passengers are still missing. I’m saddened by the magnitude of human loss.

The report further states, the cause of the accident was “severe levels of negligence.” Nine (9) people have been arraigned in connection to the accident. The dead and survivors of this accident will be compensated at a rate of Tshs 125,000 for 80 months which is equivalent to Tshs 10,000,000 per person.

The suggested figure is what I have issues with.  I feel like the figures are too low and will not work as a deterrent for future man-made accidents. My understanding is that human life is priceless. To save it, stiffer penalties must be imposed as a deterrent.

My questions are:

  1. Why payments are based on the basic salary levels?
  2. What made the commission to assume that all these people were going to die in the next 6 years and a half (80 months)?
  3. Why not use established income earning potentials for each of the passengers and life expectancy figures to figure out the payment?

This was an opportunity to severely punish those involved so that it will be a lesson to them and for others currently benefiting from this kind of behavior. Don’t let this incident be another missed opportunity like MV Bukoba. This should be a wake up call to shipowners, bus owners, and everyone involved in the transportation business. They needs to understand that “if you cause an accident due to negligence” leading to a loss or loss of lives; severe consequences will follow. The “kazi ya mungu” excuse should not be be the norm.

Once a person purchase a ticket, it’s a contractual agreement between the two parties and that the latter will transport the former safely from point A to point B. These contracts need to be honored. Maybe in the future (“that means now”) the government could implement a system that forces bus, ship and any kind of transportation business owners to declare the insurance value of a passenger and luggage on the back of the ticket in case an accident happens.

My belief is that if the owners are subjected to stiff penalties whenever accidents happens and are starting to see that their profits are being eroded; they will make sure that accidents due to negligence will not be a daily occurrences in Tanzania. To make them change their minds and put safety measures before profit, you have to hit them where it matters most—profits.

In addition to a deterrence on the part of the ship, buses, and any-other type of transportation owners. Citizen awareness campaign regarding overcrowding in public transportation needs to be carried out. It seems people are not learning from these incidence. More campaigns on road safety and problems associated with overcrowding are severely needed.

I will end you with this, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different outcome.”

The Killing shall continue……..

Tanzania STD 7 Results 2011: The ups and the downs.

How Can They Cheat
How can a student cheat under these conditions?. Leaking exams–maybe the culprit.

There is a Swahili saying that goes like “when elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers”. This saying came to my mind today as I was reading articles and comments related to the release of the 2011 Standard Seven Examination results in Tanzania. A total of 983,545 students sat for Standard Seven Examination in 2011. It is true that some gains have been made on the pass rate of standard seven graduates from 2010 to 2011. There has been a 4.76% jump over the one year period from 53.52% in 2010 to 58.28% in 2011. That in itself is commendable.

On the flip-side, cheating incidents have increased 78.5 times over the same period. From 124 cancelled student’s results in 2010 to 9,736 cancelled student’s results in 2011. Student cheating during examination in the Tanzanian education system is not a new phenomenon. Leaking of examination papers goes way back since the time I was in primary school.

The question is “who is leaking exams at the Ministry, the regional, and the school levels?.” There is no need to be complacent. Leaked examination papers always shows up each year close to the testing period. It is a huge business and almost everyone in the education field in Tanzania knows this. At times, three to five exam papers maybe circulating all over the country. Do we also blame the pupils for that? I also find the mass punishment of the pupils and parents caught up in this mess is excessive. Adults need to be held accountable here and not children. However, I do agree with the suggestions to establish a “Form One” entrance exam to all incoming Form One students to assess their abilities in reading, writing, and mathematics.

What Made 2011 Special for Me?

This was an incredible year. I finally had the opportunity to visit Soweto. It was an incredible moment for me to see the houses of both my favorite South African leaders, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. 

I also had the opportunity to work with my co-workers to organize an event to raise funds for the Mutombo Dikembe Foundation. I have always thought that I was of a decent height, until Dikembe Mutombo towered over me at the event. The whole experience resulted into a sore neck at the end. Is this how short people feel standing next to me?

I just had to take this photo. The girls were such a beauty along the side of the beach in Nungwi Village, Zanzibar. Aren’t they cute?

 This is the view over a window at the Zanzibar Museum in Stone Town, Zanzibar. It was too beautiful. I had to grab my camera and shoot this amazing scenary.

I had an amazing walk in those sweaty and humid narrow streets in Mji Mkongwe (Stone Town), Zanzibar. The shops are everywhere and the shop keepers are eager for you to unzip your wallet. 

I took the three shots below in the Rock City (Mwanza), Tanzania. I fell in love with Mwanza. The temperature was just right and the price was also right. The city was very gentle to my wallet. I will be here again in the near future.

 I just could not resist remembering this small restaurant just on the outside of the main bus stop in Shinyanga. The menu tells it all. I had to test the “LOST KUKU” and amazingly it was really good for the price. I will indeed eat there next time. Hopefully, I will find myself in this party of the country soon.


These three shots were taken in Meatu, Shinyanga, Tanzania. This is the only superstore in Town. Despite the lack of necessities in Meatu, I met the friendliest people on earth.

Kibogoji, what else can I say about it. This is the village that I humbly borrowed the name for my blog. The village is located somewhere between madongo poromoka in Morogoro, Tanzania.

 The three shots above shows some of the residents of Kibogoji.  The next two pics below shows the mountains surrounding the village of Kibogoji.

 Back in Dar Es Salaam. It was such a joy to meet and take photos of the people I love and remember as the year comes to an end. Merry Xmass, hear!!.

Enough with Tanzania and now back to reality-my reality that is.

This woman wanted to take a picture of me at the DICOTA convention in Washington D.C. and I was like ooh no babe! I have to take yours as well. I have no idea who she was, but her image is still fresh in my memory.

Tanzania @ 50: Lets Celebrate??

Tanzania turned 50 years old yesterday. I should correctly say—Tanganyika as there was no Tanzania during the 1961 Independence Day. Tanzania is just a union between two independent states—Tanganyika and Zanzibar (Pemba and Unguja) in 1964.

Tanzania turns 50
Tanzania turns 50

Enough said. Progress is engulfing my mother land. If car ownership is an indication of how we’re progressing as the country’s president said a year ago, then there are no need for those grim statistics by the world-bank ranking Tanzania as one of the poorest nations in the world—just close to and/or next to Mozambique. The roads are filled with them. Puffing and smoking in their rears. At most times, in a city like Dar Es Salaam—the roads turn into parking lots.

The Tanzania @ 50 UHURU celebrations was nothing short of a short-lived distraction from REALITY. F**ck reality man—let show them how we party despite our poverty, lack of infrastructure, a deteriorating educational system, the lack of proper health care system and the list goes on and on.

Anyhow–who cares if our pregnant women give birth on filthy floors, no stationary at most police posts, operations are suspended in Muhimbili hospital due to lack of oxygen, kids are seating on the floor in roofless buildings in an attempt to learn something worthwhile in their tiny lives. Who the f**ck cares!!!

In addition, we continue to borrow without knowledge of when and how we are going to pay for the debt. The next generation is already in debt up to their eye brow. But, despite all this, let’s go on and spend billions we don’t have to throw a party of the “Kings and Queens” of Zwangendaba –just because we can.

Who cares—-next week we will send our leaders all over the world’s capitals to beg again from countries that are themselves struggling economically. Countries that are themselves cutting wasteful spending through various austerity measures. Any-who, let celebrate.

Who is stupid? It’s the wanainchi stupid!

How do you look to other world leaders in the face asking for money to implement your country’s developmental projects under these circumstances. These other countries collect taxes like you do. It’s the tax money from gays, lesbian, transgendered and straight people who support your budget. You also want to have big balls when you are asked to uphold the rights of gays, lesbians and transgendered people in your society? You can take the cash from gays, but, giving gays protections under your laws is against African culture? What hypocrite?

I would be very embarrassed to wear your shoes, however nice or Italian personally designed they may be.

Sokoine: The Old Leadership in Tanzania

Dar Es Salaam 2011
Dar Es Salaam Street (2011)

Today, I am taking time to reflect on what is happening to the new order of leadership in Tanzania. I remember when I was little. I mean, when I was very little. Back in the day. The days in the early 1980s.

In those days. A young energetic prime minister tragically died on a terrible car accident close to Morogoro. He died on the-then-newly opened paved/tarmac road from Dar Es Salaam to Dodoma.

I was just a child, thus, my recollection of the events surrounding the accident may not be entirely correct.

However, I have a vivid memory of it all.


Picha kwa Hisani ya Bongo Pixs

Mr. Sokoine passed away from injury sustained after the car he was traveling-in collided with Dumisan Dube’s at Dumila, Morogoro. Dumisan was a young South African freedom fighter living in Tanzania at the time. In the 70s and the early 80s, many South African freedom fighters lived in camps in Tanzania  where they learned general life and military skills aimed at  equipping  them with necessary life and military skills to fight apartheid once they returned back to their home country.

I have no idea what the court rulings for case were. I do not know whether Dube was found guilty or not.

I sometimes ask myself whom was at fault?

or whom was found guilty for causing the accident?

The accident that caused the eventual death of the Prime Minister.

I have no answers to my own questions.

The whole investigation and court ruling was kept secret.

What I know is this–there is still a huge cloud of suspicion onto the manner in which the accident happened.

The accident happened at the heat of the war against economic saboteurs.

Vita dhidi ya walanguzi.

Was the war against economic saboteur the reason for his death?

or was it just a coincident?

I don’t know.

The one thing I vividly remember to date is this:

When Sokoine died.

The whole country was in tears.

Real tears.

Not crocodile tears we often see now-days.

Everyone was mourning the death of a great promising young leader.

At the time.

It was information overload in a sense. Talking about information overload back then–it was kind of weird.

There was  only  one radio station on the dial.

Radio Tanzania Dar Es Salaam (RTD) and  in some occasions the Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation (KBC).

You had no choice but listen to the never-ending four weeks of the Nation in Mourning.

I mean this in a good way.

I could still remember man’s burial ceremony on the radio.

It was like the biggest super-ball game.

The event is imprinted forever on my mind.

The song “kila mtu atauchukua mzigo wake mwenyewe” was in our 277 Panasonic radio (Radio Mkulima).

The only radio we had in the house.

The burial ceremony was broadcasted live on the radio.

It felt like I was in Monduli that day.

Watching his casket lowered to the ground.

It was surreal.

I was  young.

A child.

Like many young minds. I was wondering what happened to dead people.

Do they go to hell (motoni)?

or do they go to heaven (peponi)?

The dichotomy that religion teaches us.

Are there no middle grounds for the dead?


Half hell.

Half heaven.

The gray area so to speak.

What is it with young people’s mind and death?

Death is sometimes scary to the young mind.

The thought of laying in the grave and being eaten by termites.

I had those thoughts.

The undeveloped thought.

Lack of maturity.

And death is sometimes fascinating to the young mind.

The “goods” of not knowing “too much” of and about what is happening around you.

Of not entirely comprehending the laws of nature.

The laws that suggests the natural cycling of matter in the universe.

That matter is neither created nor destroyed.

That matter has to return back to the ground.

To release the essential elements of life.

Through decomposition.

With maggots




So now I wonder.

I wonder what would happen if a leader on the same stature as Edward Moringe Sokoine was ever died on an accident today.

Would the Tanzanians of today.

Full of udaku.

Would they cry?



Or will they just be consumed with indifference?

I know the current leaders are smart people.

At least that is what they believe.

The Tanzania contemporary leaders.

They have great solutions for everything.

I wonder.

And ask myself.

Would those in power today parade people on the street to show emotion that isn’t there?

How would they do it?

Think of how they buy votes.

Perhaps, they could buy people to cry.

on the street.

For the dead.

Like they do in Ghana.

The crier for hire.

Or will they do what happened in Ethiopia a few years ago when the not so beloved Prime Minister passed away.


I feel ashamed.

of myself.

of the people who are being corned.

With the crookedness of the human nature.


All for me attitude.

The capitalists attitude.


Wanting more for self.

Nothing else matters.

What happened to human descence

Is it all gone?

I wonder.


I feel like the connection between leaders and their subjects has disappeared.

That connection has completely evaporated.

Disappeared and never to be seen again.

Is it because most of the new leaders have lost touch?

Touch with the people they pretend to lead.


In the old day.

In the Ntemi days.

Was being with the people.

Listening to the people.

Working on the people’s ideas.

Finding solutions.





Imposition of external solution.

Solution with no real meaning to the intended communities.

Not organic solution.





The contemporary leaders.

Chose to serve themselves.

Rather than the people who entrusted them with the office in the first place.


Just me wondering.






My mind sometimes goes in circles.





I do not wish for any of you leaders in Tanzania to die.

Of course not.

I am just interested in seeing what will the reaction be?


One of them.


Don’t you?

Happy 58 Birthday Tanganyika!!!!

Mimi Sio Mpiga Kura

Tainted Waters.

Drugged water
pharmaceuticals in drinking water
Last week I attended Advanced Placement Environmental Science Educators Training at Kennesaw State University. Kennesaw University is located  in the north-western part of the massive metropolis called Atlanta. During the training I learned different inquiry (lab) based methods of teaching advanced placement environmental science to students. It was a great week filled with fun experiences.

As a part of the experiential learning for the training, the training participants visited the Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) sewage treatment plant. While there, we discussed the advantages of an MBR over traditional sewage treatment plants. In the middle of this discussion, a person asked a question about pharmaceuticals. I vividly remember the question: Do MBR sewage treatment process remove pharmaceuticals in the treated water?

That question actually made me think twice about where the medications (such as pills, injections, topical creams, etc) that millions and millions of people take everyday ends-up. In fact, it is a known fact that what goes in must come out. Which conforms with the law of conservation of mass. Only a small portion of the medication that we ingest is actually metabolized. The rest is released to the environment through our urine, fecal matters,  through perspiration, and many other means. The questions I asked myself while reflecting on this issue was: where do the by-products go to after we flush the toilets and/or when dumped in landfills after they expire? Are there microbes or natural phenomenon that break these pharmaceuticals down?

Expired drugsPharmaceuticals are the biggest incoming environmental and health challenge of our time. There are millions and millions of people taking a variety of medication each single day. All these pharmaceuticals finally end up in our waterways. In  addition, most of the pharmaceuticals have long half-lives (Brausch et al.2012).  Furthermore, there are few natural microbes capable of metabolizing these toxic chemicals. Thus, they stay in the environment longer increasing the likelihood that their concentrations in our waterways will continue to increase each passing year and possibly reaching toxic levels in a not so distant future.

The effect of pharmaceuticals to human and other animals is not very well documented as of yet. However, several studies done on fish have shown negative effect to fish population exposed to elevated levels of pharmaceuticals in rivers, streams, and lakes (Daughton & Temes, 1999; Boxall et al. 2003a; 2004a; Floate et al. 2005). Furthermore, some studies have confirmed that in some species male fish have actually turned into female when their habitats were exposed to high levels of pharmaceuticals for long durations(Brodin et al. 2014).

What the low concentrations of pharmaceuticals found currently in drinking water doing to the human body is currently a mystery.

Admittedly, the pharmaceuticals are in minute concentrations right now. However, since none of the water treatment plants can remove them off of our water supply–we are running the risk of their concentration increasing over the next few years to toxic levels and harming us if they are not doing so already.

No Government Plans to Eliminate Pharmaceutical in Our Drinking Water

Right now in America there are no legislation to deal with pharmaceuticals in drinking water or the water that goes into the streams, rivers, and lakes. At the same time, trace amount of pharmaceuticals have already been recorded in many urban and suburban water supply systems.

What is America going to do with this impending health and environmental problem?

I do not know about you, but I would rather not drink unprescribed pills in the water I drink. That’s just me.

With all the hormones, antidepressants, and other different types of medications in the drinking water supplies; no wonder–people can no-longer stand each- other.

And you are wrong even if you drink bottled water–you are still taking in pills!

Neutrinos: Is “physics as we know it” nearing an end???

By: Shaaban Fundi,

The end of Einstein era?I read with interest the article by Charles Krauthammer on the today about the discovery of neutrino particles that travels faster than the speed of light.

If this experiment and the discovery happen to be correct, then most–if not all of the Einsteinian theories in physics will be absolute. It will set a precedence to the dawn of new physics laws and theories.

It is hard to imagine that what we have been made to believe for almost 100 years was (or might be) fundamentally incorect. What is next for physics? Are there other flaws to other sciences that we’re unaware of?

It is the waiting game now for more scientists to replicate the experiment and come up with same or different results.

At the end, we will always love you Einstein (in Whitney Houston’s Voice).

Click here for original article.

Suggestions for Teaching English to Native Swahili Speakers.

Shaaban Fundi,

Last week I conducted several interviews with Swahili speaking students at a local community college in Atlanta. Amongst the interviewees: three were from the Democratic Republic of Congo, one from the United Republic of Tanzania and four were from the republic of Burundi. The eight students spoke Swahili with different dialects.

By definition, Swahili or Kiswahili is a “Bantu language spoken by various ethnic groups inhabiting a large Indian Ocean Coastal stretch from Mozambique to Somalia”. The countries include: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Comoro, Burundi, Malawi, Zambia, and Congo DRC.

I learned from the interviews that Standard Swahili has 5 vowels phonemes. The vowels are: a, e, I, o, u. And that the vowels are never reduced, regardless of stress. The vowels are pronounced as follows:

“a” is pronounced like the “a” in pasta
‘e’ is pronounced like the “e” in bed
‘i’ is pronounced like the “i” in ski
‘o’ is pronounced like the “o” in “or”
‘u’ is pronounced like the “oo” in “bassoon”.”

I also learned that like in numerous Bantu languages, Swahili arranges nouns into a number of classes. The ancestral system had 22 classes. Counting singular and plural as distinct according to the Meinhof System. Most Bantu languages share at least ten of these noun classes. Swahili employs sixteen nouns classes: six classes usually indicate singular nouns, five classes usually indicate plural nouns, one class for abstract nouns, one class for verbal infinitives used as nouns, and three classes to indicate location.

Some examples of the nouns classes are presented below:
“class semantics prefix singular translation plural translation
1, 2 persons m-/mu-, wa- mtu person watu persons
3, 4 trees, natural forces m-/mu-, mi- mti tree miti trees”

As seen above, Swahili is a very complex language and differs significantly from the English language. The vowels are pronounced the way they are written while in the English language the vowels carry different sounds from the written expression. This difference in particular causes a huge challenge to students who are learning English as a second language from the Swahili speaking cultures. Students from Swahili speaking countries struggle with intonation and word sound relationships in English because this is a very different system from that of Swahili or Kiswahili.

Implication in the classroom instruction

It is very important for educators to understand the linguistic similarities and differences between Swahili and English to have an opportunity to help students like the ones I interviewed. In addition, Swahili has a different system for singular and plural to that used in the English language. The addition of vowels to words does not exist in the Swahili language. Thus, making it harder for Swahili speakers to learn the English language.

Opportunity in classroom instruction:

It would be helpful to educators who teach content specific course to understand the linguistic similarities and differences between Swahili and English. This understanding will help them to anticipate when and where Swahili speaking students will have challenges learning the English language. This understanding will provides educators with an opportunity to help students for Swahili speaking nations to be engaged in their own learning and also in using the new language for other content specific courses.

Educators need to develop lessons that will focus more in helping students new to the English language understand the differences and similarities between the two languages and use the opportunity to highlight how to overcome those differences. For example, educators can start by teaching the students the English alphabet, vowels and word sounds. This will help the students to understand where the two languages are similar and where they differ.

After students have mastered word sounds, educators can go further into reading, writing and comprehension of the English language. The step by step instruction will help many ESOL students to become fluent English speakers and writers and in turn this will have a significant impact on how the ESOL students excel in the content classrooms.

1.Prins, A.H.J. 1961. “The Swahili-Speaking Peoples of Zanzibar and the East African Coast (Arabs, Shirazi and Swahili)”. Ethnographic Survey of Africa, edited by Daryll Forde. London: International African Institute.
2.Prins, A.H.J. 1970. A Swahili Nautical Dictionary. Preliminary Studies in Swahili Lexicon – 1. Dar es Salaam.
3.Whiteley, Wilfred. 1969. Swahili: the rise of a national language. London: Methuen. Series: Studies in African History.
4.Brock-Utne, Birgit (2001). “Education for all — in whose language?” Oxford Review of Education 27 (1): 115–134.

English as a Second Language of Instruction in Tanzania

By Shaaban Fundi

English language learning in the Tanzanian Education System can be characterized as being “problem-solving” oriented. The type of problem solving that does not include exercises that cultivate higher-order thinking skills.

The main goals are: 1) to obtain enough knowledge of English to reach a minimal level for a specific purpose, such as obtaining a position doing menial work, 2) to help students pass standardized exams. Noticeably absent is the goal of real learning and/or authentic learning.

Fixating on Standardized Testing

When students focus on passing exams, they lose sight of authentic learning. Especially for those that English is their second, third, or fourth language. Most students in Tanzania falls in this group.

Equivalently, when educators fixate on having their students pass exams, they may neglect authentic teaching. Educators should certainly work to comply with the country’s learning standards and prepare students for standardized tests, however, these formalities should be placed in the background and place authentic learning in the foreground. If students are truly learning, they will pass standardize tests ANYWAY.

As educators, one question we need to ask ourselves is this, “Do we want to teach our students to just survive, or to flourish?”

The Cycle of Learning is Important

Along similar lines of reasoning, educators need to grasp the need for cycles of Question-Answer-Question instead of merely Question-Answer. For that matter, educators should not be the only ones asking questions. Instead, students should be afforded the opportunity to ask and answer own questions. If educators are to treat students as “explorers”, rather than “plants” that absorb information, and provide space for their voices, students should be able to pose their own questions and problems and seek solutions themselves with the facilitation of the educator, as needed.

The idea is to break the orthodox of what is called in education as “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” in which educators control learning and “deposit” knowledge into students. This is quite rampant in the Tanzanian education system.

Sharing the Expertise Stage

Similarly, educators cannot be the only expert in the classroom. To deny students their own expert knowledge is to dis-empower them. Let the students ask and answer their own questions.

When working with English Language Learners, it is especially important to help build students’ confidence. Adapting these ideas would hopefully create an environment rich in learning. In that students would learn from each other and the teacher and the teacher would learn from the students.

Competing Ideas in Resource Poor Countries

These ideas may be difficult to accept and implement in teacher dominated classrooms. They require educators to relinquish some or most of their powers. Implementing these ideas sometimes leads to classroom management issues in the beginning. Thus,  such classrooms and students would need adequate practice in instructional conversation and class discussions. I do realize the fact that most classes in Tanzania are extremely overclouded. This could lead to other issues including how to group students for group activities. Moreover, enrichment activities that feature language learning would likely require increased efforts on the part of the teacher to construct and execute, as compared with implementing lessons grounded in straightforward test preparation and grammar drills.

Ideological Shift

Yes, fostering real and authentic learning will require a lot of work. However, instructional practices and broad structural changes are necessary.  Real change cannot occur until we drastically modify our ideological framework.

Expectations make all the difference. That is, if all that is expected from the educator is that students pass the standardized exams or obtain jobs in the menial labor industry, than learning goals and instructional practices will reflect such aims, and at best, that is merely what students will learn and do.

Should Tanzania change the language of Instruction? In my humble opinion, I believe that there is no need to switch from all English instructional delivery in secondary and tertiary schools as of yet. However, changing the way we teach English to second, third or fourth language learners in Tanzania will take us a long way, modifying our ideological framework will also help, and raising our expectations for what our students can learn and do will increase tremendously higher-order-thinking skills of our students. In my view, at present time, the Swahili only educational delivery model is flawed to say the least.

Tanzania, Tanzania, Nakupenda kwa Moyo Wote!

After spending three weeks in Tanzania and seeing people from all walks of life, I am taking this opportunity to reflect on my experience. Generally, Tanzania is a great country with tremendous potential and opportunities. The country is endowed with a vast amount of natural resources (lakes, oceans, rivers, trees and minerals) and huge chunks of untapped land that is readily available for all sorts of development activities. It can be used for tourism, agriculture, fishing, and all other sorts of entrepreneurship.

However, a small group of Tanzanians are getting richer beyond recognition. Some of the rich Tanzanians are actually vacationing outside the country to far lands such as Europe and the United States. Whereas the majority of  Tanzanians face serious hardship putting a roof over their heads and food on the table. It is an interesting contrast.

I care less how people spend their hard earned cash. But, the issue here is that most of these rich Tanzanians actually work for the government. With government salaries alone, these people would not be able to afford to take their families to Kigamboni(FunCity), not mentioning Stone Town, Zanzibar. It is the corruption and embezzlement of public funds that is so open and publicly accepted that allows for all this to happen.

Actually I somewhat believe it does not matter how well you pay a Tanzanian (a grain of salt here), s/he will definitely find a way to embezzle public funds anyway. In my views, low wages is not the singular reason for why people steal from wherever position they have.  The culture of corruptness and the societal expectations that comes along with it contribute directly to this problem. For example, it is openly accepted that if you have a good position in the government or wherever; you should be able to have a nicer car, a gorofa, and many other stuffs. If you won’t do that people in Tanzania will start asking questions. Does s/he have a mental problem? Why is s/he not stealing?

Everyone is.

Fact of the matter is when you steal the allocated funds for development projects to build your lavish gorofas and beach front three storey houses, the expected development projects remain idol and incomplete. The people who suffer the most are those who depend on government social services who are indirectly reinforcing this societal norm. No wonder, there are no roads to accommodate all the cars in Dar Es Salaam not to mention the hinterlands, no stationary to write statements at most police posts (you have to provide your own 10 sheets of paper to write a police statement on), no gloves for midwives to deliver babies in most, if not all hospitals and the list goes on. It is a pathetic situation.

Changing this culture is one of the solutions to Tanzania’s problems. Issues like the Members of parliaments (MPs) having to receive three salaries {regular salaries (Tshs12, 000,000 per month), seating allowances and per diems) is absurd, but it all stems from the same societal culture of expecting too much from little to no work at all.

And, all this is happening at the time when the government is completely and entirely bankrupt. The government cannot afford to carry out its obligation due to lack of funds. Donors please help my fellow Tanzanians to finance their misplaced priorities and expectations. LMAO all the way back to the ATL.

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The Rock City, Mwanza

By: Shaaban Fundi

Mwanza: The Rock City
Mwanza: The Rock City

After spending a week on the beautiful beaches of Zanzibar (Nungwi in particular), you would think that nothing can top those amazing “wow” moments. However, Mwanza is stunning on its own right.

Arriving in Mwanza, you fly on top of Lake Victoria. The first things you will see are those cropping up rocks on hills around the city.

It is very beautiful here.

The city is very relaxed. As opposed to Dar ES Salaam, the traffic is light and the temperature is just right. It feels like you are in a place worth visiting. You can reach any part of the city in moments’ notice.


In addition, most people are very friendly and welcoming here. They want to show you where the “it” in Mwanza is…..places for good foods, night clubs, swimming, and the likes. Furthermore, the way they cook Samakis (fish) here is just beautiful; nothing compare to a lake fish…nicely cooked!!!.

I played "draft" with this guy and lost
I played “draft” with this guy and lost

Pictures of Mwanza will be coming as soon as I find a place to download my pictures. Enjoy…!!!!!!

My first meal in Mwanza
My first meal in Mwanza
Lake Victoria View
Lake Victoria View

Soweto, South Africa (2011).

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Many many years ago I had an opportunity to read a book called Mine Boy by Peter Abraham. The book was one among several other books on the reading list of the Secondary School English Curriculum in Tanzania. Since reading Mine Boy, I have had an u-n-d-i-m-i-n-i-s-h-i-n-g thirsty too see the Soweto township.

Today I am glad I took the time to see the township where 4 millions South Africans call home. I had the chance to walk proudly in the city where Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu still have homes from the apartheid era. I am not sure if they live in them at the moment or not, however, it was an exhilarating experience none the less .

If you find yourself in Johannesburg (Jozi) and have time to burn, call Chipo Chibememe. She is a South African tour-preneur and also a SOWETO native. She arranges tours to visit the township (half day and full day) on any day of the week. She is very knowledgeable about SOWETO (she lives in SOWETO). I truly enjoyed the tour she gave me of the township. For more info click her website

Julius Nyerere: A critical look at Nyerere’s Leadership


Compiled by Nina Mbabazi Rukakaire

PART 3: The move to the left of Center.

In March 1959, Governor Turnbull proposed an increase in TANU’s role in the government. His first move was to appoint five members to the twelve man cabinet. Julius Nyerere of course was against this. He insisted that since Tanganyika majority were blacks, the majority cabinet must be held by black Tanganyikans. Turnbull conceded and Nyerere’s gamble before the elections vis a vis Mtemvu’s position paid off. The wisdom to know what fight to pick was one of Nyerere’s strengths. When asked by JR Bailey about independence Nyerere’s response was; “It is up to the people of Tanganyika – Europeans and Africans and Asians – to say when and in what form. We want to set an example from which Rhodesia and Kenya can learn” And with this spirit, he set on the task of designing Tanzania’s way forward. “You are my brother” the words that they said carried an age old message of love and hope. Nyerere certainly believed in those four words and it would shape his message to Africa. With the mindset that Africa had a lot to offer, Nyerere designed what he thought would be Africa’s gift to the world. An African socialist state where every person was a worker, equal in stature and able to contribute equally.

“Our first step must be to re-educate ourselves” he wrote “To regain our former attitude of work. We took care of the community and the community took care of us”. We neither needed or wished to exploit our fellow man – the basis of Ujamaa must be that a member of society is entitled to a piece of land on condition that he uses it. True socialism is an attitude of mind” And with those words, movement towards the Ujamaa began.

Tanganyika’s greatest problem towards movement to Ujamaa was the fact that the rural population was greatly dispersed and Nyerere’s new ideology was not coherent. His message also came at a time when Kawawa was emphasizing party discipline and was not speaking the same language as Nyerere. His (Nyerere) heart was in the right place, but he didn’t have the mental faculty to design it properly. He was after all a simple man. The ideology was a great hit among the people of Tanzania. By early 1964 the Tanganyikans on their own initiative and from what they perceived as the word of delivery from the President formed 300 embryonic collective farms. Within a year, almost all had collapsed. The problem? There seemed to be no clear plan to follow other than the call by the President to Ujamaa.

Nyerere in turn responded by setting up the rural settlement commission whose duty was to approve plans for new schemes and finance those new schemes. Israeli experts were brought in to help make these village cooperatives viable. The village settlement program was key in the first five year plan for the move towards prosperous Tanzania. But by 1966, it had failed.

Nyerere said “ To burden the farmer with heavy debts at the outset and at the same time to make it appear that government can provide all services is not the best way of promoting activity.” In 1966 he abandoned the idea of village settlement schemes.

Why did the scheme fail, the design of the scheme though simple would not have been so disastrous? Well, what Nyerere designed between 1962 and 1965 was what we called development committees and ten house party cells. In Uganda we still use this system in Northern Uganda. It is called “Nyumba Kumi”. Nyerere wanted to build a two way all weather road between the political centre and the rural masses. What happened was the reverse, with government dictating to the villages what they thought best and ignoring the requests by the farmers. What government failed to understand is that every society grows with its own science and if they are not allowed to explore their own homegrown solutions, the ideas that they are asked to implement will fail.

It didn’t help that in January 1964, Zanzibar was held hostage by a raving Ugandan lunatic calling himself Field Marshal John Okello whose origins are in Lira. So Nyerere was implementing a scheme while having difficulties settling Zanzibar’s political issues. He was also beset by a mutiny in the army in 1964 that was to rock his government.

While the Ujamaa was failing, the Tanzanian economy was growing. Nyerere had also embarked on an industrialization plan whose main focus was import substitution. The plan was to be financed through the sale of agricultural goods coming out of the Ujamaa villages, foreign direct investment (FDI) and aid. However, Tanzania was not able to attract that much needed FDI because of the risk factor attached to our African states at that period of time. Also the fact that world prices in sisal had dropped drastically, probably a European attempt to destabilize the African economies that were no longer providing markets for their goods, but still, because of Nyerere’s message of import substitution, they registered a balance of payment surplus and were able to cushion some of the Ujamaa failings. But few jobs and private investment were forthcoming.

Nyerere said in 1966; “The amount of private investment which has taken place over the past year is quite frankly a disappointment to us. We have special tax concessions to encourage new investments; we have investment guarantees for bringing capital into the country; and we have many arrangements designed to encourage private enterprise of a character which will serve our nation. Yet the level of private investment does not appear to be as great as that provided for in the plan” A very honest speech from the leader.

Tanzania at this time was heavily dependent on aid and Nyerere felt that his vision of an egalitarian and democratic African society was slipping away. President Nyerere then called a party conference and on 5th February, 1967 unveiled a carefully written document that had far reaching implications. Written in his very blunt and vivid style, Nyerere unveiled the Arusha Declaration. The Arusha declaration introduced a move to nationalize all Industry and productive institutions. The justification in Nyerere’s words? “ the major means of production and exchange to be under the control of the peasants and workers”.

The plan was for a radical reform of the rural areas, improvement of rural standards of living, improved productivity by collective villagisation and increased productivity through self help groups. It was no longer voluntary villagisation like before but was now compulsory. By mid 1970’s most citizens had been moved to these villages and Tanzania’s food production had taken a drastic drop. Tanzania then had no choice but to import staple foods to stave off hunger.

Nyerere in the Arusha declaration asserted: Socialism is a way of life, and a socialist society cannot simply come into existence, a socialist society can only be built by those who believe in, and who themselves practice, the principles of socialism. The first duty of a TANU member and especially of a TANU leader is to accept these socialist principles and to live his own live in accordance with them. In particular, a genuine TANU leader will not live off the sweat of another man nor commit any feudalistic or capitalistic actions.

Because of our emphasis on money, we have made another big mistake. We have put too much emphasis on industries. Just as we have said, “without money , there can be no development, we also seem to say, Industries are the basis of development” without industries there is no development. The mistake we are making is to think that development begins with industries. It is a mistake because we do not have the means to establish many modern industries in our country. We do not have either the necessary finances or the technical know-how.The development of a country is brought about by people, not money. Money and the wealth it represents, is the result and not the basis of development”

Thousands marched though Dar Es Salaam in support of the declaration. The old Ujamaa model as well as colonialism had bred a state of haves and have nots; Foreigners still owned a large section of Tanzania’s economy.

The Black Tanzanians rejoiced; the Europeans and Asians were not happy, but for once Nyerere saw how deeply impoverished his people were and it shook him to the bone. He hated the kind of leaders that TANU leaders had become, each owning shares in business in foreign companies, he stated that rich men can’t be asked politely to give up their shares, it must be taken away from them. No foreign aid was coming; people had to work hard if they wanted to improve themselves. How could TANU allow the repatriation of funds anyhow? Unemployed had to be sent back home to the rural area, the government made it clear; there was no room for slackers. The youth were turned into “Green guards” to ensure the success of socialism. The people were happy more so with the new leadership code that forbade and leaders of government from doing business and earning two salaries.

Although the idea was wonderful and welcomed by all, nobody had planned for the communal income. How as it supposed to be shared? What was the milestone for a day’s work? What happens if someone does not meet the desired target? If they are lazy? What about those who decided to work privately after work. How would they share income? The response to this new Ujamaa was slow despite the incentives of building schools, running water, clinics and investment.

In 1973 due to the slow response, TANU committed themselves to actively relocating people into villages. Nyerere said; “This huge task TANU committed itlsef to involved the forced relocation of millions of people” The response of the people was not so nice. Nyerere used the police, army, national service and militiamen to move people to the villages. This they did with brutality.

By 1974, 2 million out of Tanzania’s 9 million were in Ujamaa villages and in 1976 they were 13 million. What happened next was catastrophic. In 1970 Tanzania exported 540,000 tons of surplus maize, in 1974, it imported 300,000 tons of maize. TANU had been exposed as being ignorant of what the citizenry wanted.

But for all the failure to understand the peasantry, Ujamaa had done four wonderful things. There were drugs in the hospitals, and the classrooms had been built. The people of Tanzania were no longer 120 ethnicities; they were now one people, united for the good of country. Ujamaa paved the way for a brighter prosperous Tanzania and Nyerere built the Tazara railway to tap the potential. It was called “Freedom railway”. The Nationalization of industry had yielded tremendous achievements for Tanzania and for this Nyerere had reason to smile; Government parastatals had increased from 64 to 139. But 1979 was to see the beginning of a six year drought that would rock Nyerere’s faith in himself. It did not help that the neighbor Uganda was misbehaving.

Nyerere described the achievements in Agriculture as such; “Since the Arusha Declaration was passed, we have talked a very great deal about rural development and the expansion of agriculture as the basis for Tanzania’s future. And we have spend large sums of money on rural development. However, the truth is that the agriculture results have been very disappointing”

Nyerere’s speech to celebrate ten years of the Arusha Declaration was not only sincere, it was telling in what he was going to do. His speech showed a leader who had grown with country and who was willing to accept where he had gone wrong. His speech showed that despite all his efforts, he had realized that country was bigger than him and he had brought them thus far, but would not lead them to the Promised Land. He had set the foundation for a prosperous Tanzania but the time had come for him to advance Tanzania one step further on its democratization goal.

As Nyerere prepared for a new future, he quietly relieved Kawawa of his duties. He had used Kawawa as a scapegoat for his failings but Chama Cha Mapinduzi was all too aware of where the real problem lay and by 1983, it was very clear that Nyerere would not be seeking re-election.

As he announced a new leader of government business, Mr. Sokoine took over as Prime Minister. Sokoine stated quite clearly ; “ In Tanzania, it is the party which is supreme” and with his speech began a movement towards a new leadership in Tanzania, and change in regional policy towards other East African countries.

With a solid leader in charge of government business, strong critics in Oscar Kambona, Babu and Bibi Titi Mohammed, Julius Nyerere moved to build a great legacy in his foreign policy that would earn him worldwide title of “unblemished hero”. What was his foreign policy?

As written by various contributing critics. JR Bailey, Mohamed Amin, Kanyama Chiume, Sir Thomas Hopkinson, Haji Konde, GR Naidoo, Alan Rake, Abdulla Riyami, Robert Ryamamu and others.

Julius Nyerere: A Ugandan Perspective.

By Nina Mbabazi Rukikaire,

PART 1: How he saw it in the end.

Julius Kambarage Nyerere, founding father of Tanzania and often times defined as the “Elder Statesman” of Africa was by far the most interesting of all African leaders. Not only did he lead Tanzania to independence and unification of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, he set upon a path of equality among the citizens or Ujamaa; that was to produce the greatest policy disaster in Tanzania history since the departure of the Germans in World War I.

But through this disaster came a higher conscientious of what needed to be done to put Tanzania on the right path. Nyerere had the wisdom to lead his country to this path of steady growth before bowing out. By putting country and party first, he was able to speak with such openness and sincerity to his people in what is probably one of his greatest speeches. This speech defined his entire legacy and achievements as head of state. Nyerere said;

I am a very poor prophet. In 1967 a group of youth who were marching in support of the Arusha declaration asked me how long it would take Tanzania to become socialist. I thought 30 years. I was wrong. I am sure it will take us much more than that… Ten years after the Arusha declaration Tanzania is certainly neither socialist nor self–reliant. The nature of exploitation has changed, but it has not been altogether eliminated. There are still great inequalities between citizens. Our democracy is imperfect. A life of poverty is still the experience of the majority of our citizens.

We have not reached our goal; it is not even in sight. But that is neither surprising nor alarming….We have made reasonably good progress towards providing basic health, education and transportation facilities for all the people of this country…The measure of our success is that these fundamental achievements are generally taken for granted. We are now much more conscious of the difficulties in our daily lives than of fundamental exploitation….Today such difficulties and frustrations make us forget where we came from, and even make a reminder seem like an irrelevant impertinence. It is quite true that when our shops were full of a large variety of goods, the vast majority of people had no money to buy them…But people have now developed a little; they have higher expectations of life.

Over the last ten years we have done quite well in spreading basic social services to more and more people in the rural areas. More remains to be done; but we shall only be able to do it if we produce more wealth. And we have not been doing very well on that front.

Political and public service leadership has undoubtedly improved over the past ten years, in both commitment and efficiency. But still leader too often forget the purpose of government and party and of ALL the laws and regulations in this country to serve people….The truth is that despite our official policies, and despite all our democratic institutions, some leaders still do not LISTEN to people. They find it much easier to tell people what to do. Our leaders at all levels must make more effort to reach decisions by discussion. They must encourage the people to criticize mistakes which have been made, and they must be willing to work with people in rectifying past mistakes and avoiding new ones. Leadership by intimidation is not leadership. And it will work for a short time only.

The real danger to Ujamaa in this country does not come at all from people’s criticism of leaders. It is arrogance, incompetence, and slackness among leaders which we have to guard against, and we must do so. Every leader should privately examine his own behavior to see where he/she has fallen down. Leaders are not gods; they are able to be effective and to serve the people; only on the basis of mutual respect between themselves and those who have entrusted them with responsibility.

We have cause for great satisfaction in our achievements of the past ten years. But we have no cause at all for complacency….As we celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Arusha Declaration, let us determine that the twentieth anniversary (of his leadership) will find us more productive, and therefore more free as a nation and as individuals.

And with these words, Julius Nyerere began the end of his chapter of leadership in Tanzania. As he moved to unify Tanganyika and Zanzibar in his final decade of leadership, Nyerere who was obsessed with the cult like image of Chairman Mao Zedong, prepared to build for himself the greatest legacy of leadership in Africa.

Nyerere led his people quite successfully to independence. From the onset, he was beset with all sorts of conflicting interests in the country. His vision of a prosperous socialist Tanzania had failed. Ujamaa had yielded more hunger and anger from the public and a level of disillusionment that he could not fix. Nyerere had survived two coup attempts, hostilities from Kenya and Uganda, bloodshed on the Island, still his people loved him.

He had displayed a tendency to wobble on important issues and though the people that started the struggle with him had left him, it was of his own making and his own character weaknesses. But still through all of this, Julius Nyerere recognized his pivotal role in the history of a nation that he had helped build and he gracefully bowed out.

This is the beginning of a serialization of Nyerere’s leadership. As we reflect upon his leadership, let us understand just how effective he was in preparing Tanzania for the current prosperous state that it is today. His weaknesses notwithstanding, understanding his depth of commitment to country is important in any assessment of political development in East African Federation, because his vision still defines Tanzania’s social, political and economic policies and their perception of an East African Federation.

Mwalimu as he so fondly was called once said; “We have learnt this hard fact of life, that there are no shortcuts to our aspirations”

What was it that drove the elder statesman of Africa?

Tanzania: Changing its Education System

I am sharing two videos today. The first video is really nice and talks about issues related to high failure rates in the Tanzanian Education System and it is particularly so for the sub-county (ward) secondary schools. The first video is in Swahili and the second is in English. Please watch both videos and help change the life and future of a Tanzanian child, if you can!

I am not sure who recorded the first video but thank you anyway.

It is very interesting to see the old guy in the video (Swahili one) pointing out one of the rotten cultural taboos in Tanzania. Many people understand the root causes of the high failure rates but no one will stand up and speak out about those issues. For Tanzania to succeed in the education front, Tanzanians need to change (speak out) to confront myriad of issues that confront them. If you don’t speak out, people in the leadership positions assume everything is okay and there are no needs for improvements.

The second video is by the organisation called SEED and they sponsor children to receive education in Tanzania. Please support this organization if you can. The Tanzania education is considered to be free with a lot of strings attached to it. Because of that, many poor families cannot afford to pay for it. From school fees to numerous everyday contributions to a childs education, it amounts to a high sum that thousands of Tanzanians parents are unable to give.

Serengeti Road: German government offers a solution

The African Regional Manager for the Frankfurt Zoological Society, Mr. Gelrald Bigurube, confirmed that the German government will finance construction of tarmac roads that will link dozens of rural villages adjacent to the Serengeti National Park.

He also said that the World Bank and the German government are also ready to finance southern route that will link the Arusha region with the Lake Victoria regions without crossing the Serengeti.

According to an interview with the Daily News, Mr. Bigurube said, “Linking rural villages in Serengeti and Loliondo districts with their district headquarters is the best way of addressing economic needs of the communities living near the park.”

The news article says Mr. Bigurube “disclosed that the German Federal Ministry for Development was ready to finance feasibility study of the rural roads in the districts if the idea will have blessings from the government of Tanzania.”

He said the “international community is also concerned with the needs of the people in an environmental friendly way but the road should not be close to the park because it will have serious impact that cannot be mitigated.”

The next step is up to President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete who recently turned down an offer from the World Bank to fund the alternate route.

Jenerali Ulimwengu’s Kind Words to Poor Ugandans

While I agree wholeheartedly with Generali Ulimwengu’s words of wisdom to poor Ugandans, the same words need to go around to Kenya with their political families as well as Tanzania.

Jenerali, your own neck of the woods is indeed practicing the same in case you haven’t noticed. Or was this just a way of sending home a message through a neighbour? Just wondering.

If you take a carefully look to what is happening in Tanzania, the BMWs are replicating everywhere. There is no need to mention names here; majority of the Tanzanian knows who these people are. If one of your parents worked as a Minister in the past, you will have a ministerial position, Ubunge, Mkuu wa Wilaya and so forth.

To quote Mr. Ulimwengu “ The uncreative mind of the African ruler — creative only when devising means of looting — limits him to the immediate family as a source of both continuity and security”.

But, why do these leaders resort to doing all this? The answer lies on the fact that they are not doing a good job for the majority of their people. If you do a good job, you don’t have to have anybody (croonies or otherwise) to watch your back when your term is over.

The—Presidents–wa—Muyaya-types and political genetic incumbency all over Africa are just ways for these ruler to protect themselves for underperforming or looting public funds.

To read Jenerali Ulimwengu’s article click here.

I am just telling like it is!!!

Leave a comment…………………..

Tanzania: Dynamite Fishing Returns, Unabated!!!

Photo credit: Wolcott Henry

While working for Frontier Tanzania in the late 1990s I saw firsthand the devastating impact dynamite fishing had on coral reefs, the lives of the fishermen, and fish abundance in southern Tanzania. As an Asistant Marine Reserach Coordinator, I collected baseline data on the levels of biodiversity and habitat destruction using various marine survey techniques. The data collected was used to propose and finally lead to the opening-up of Mnazi Bay Marine Park in Luvura, Msimbati, Mtwara.

During my time with Frontier-Tanzania, together with Dr. Vicki Howe, Dr. Jean Luc Solandt, Dr. Jennie Mallela, Simon, Ian, Paul and many groups of research assistants from across the globe–we organized and facilitated a marine environmental education program for 12 primary schools 2 secondary schools and 1 teachers college on marine resources and conservation methods that included 365 students and 76 teachers.

In addition, we organized and facilitated a marine environmental education program for 19 local fishermen and 2 fisheries officers on marine resources and conservation, coastal zone management, power boat handling, and the collection and handling of fisheries data.

Furthermore, we developed the first bilingual (Swahili and English) environmental  education teaching and learning manual for secondary schools. The teaching and learning manual hard information on coral reefs, mangroves, and sea grasses. The manual was intended to spear-head marine and environmental awareness in the coast areas of Tanzania.

The program target was environmental awareness to children who were more likely to become fishermen when they grew up. It helped the coastal resources users to understand why destructive fishing methods such as dynamite fishing are not good for the environment and to themselves. It also provided experiential learning and teaching materials to teachers and fisheries officers. The hope was that these efforts could be replicated elsewhere in the coastal communities.

It is very disheartening to hear that after all efforts and money from various donors and commitment from various organizations (Tanzania Coastal Management Partnership and the like) that dynamite fishing has returned to Tanzania with a vengeance.

To read more about dynamite fishing in Tanzania, click here.

Tanzania-Born Freelance Journalist Based in Atlanta.

Mr. Mahadev Desai Receiving Gandhi Foundation Award from late Giriraj Rao
I had a virtual conversation with Mr. Mahadev, Desai over the week-end here in Atlanta. He is a prolific Tanzania (Tanganyika) born writer and a freelance journalist of Indian decent. He writes for various Atlanta newspapers including the Atlanta Dunia magazine, Khabar magazine or NRIPULSE newspaper. To read more about Mr. Mahadev’s biography and the numerous accolades he has received over his long career, please click here.

Mr. Mahadev told me in one of his e mails “I left Tanganyika in 1942 when I was nine years old. I have not visited Tanzania since.” I wish Mr. Mahadev could have the opportunity to visit Tanzania and see for himself the contribution of Tanzanian of Indian decent to the economy, education and political system in Tanzania. Dar Es Salaam of 1942 would be quite different from today’s Dar Es Salaam, I can imagine.

In Addition, Mr. Mahadev recently reviewed the inspiring memoirs of J.K.Chande a Tanzanian of Indian descent who was born and raised in Bukene, Tabora, in Tanzania. Such a coincidence, as I myself was born in Mabama, Tabora and was raised both in Tabora and Morogoro.

To read more about the review of Mr. J.K. Chande and his magnificent contribution to Tanzania click here. By the way, the book is called A Knight in Africa: Journey from Bukene. I have ordered a copy for myself from Anyway, my book just arrived today.

This book is something. If you like reading books about Africa, don’t miss this one. It is an incredible memoir.

Unlock the Potential of a Tanzanian Child

There are so many talented children in Tanzania, but most of their potentials is being wasted before it can be realized. This kid in the video below could be the next Will Smith. The lack of resources and programs to foster children talents in science, arts, acting, story telling and the like will result to this kid’s dream to not being realized.

Watch the video and leave a comment!!!!

The Headline You Won’t See in the Tanzanian Media Today!!!

President Jakaya M Kikwete

“The headline you won’t see in the Tanzanian media today, “JK Sack Defense Minister and Army Chief.” And what you will see is JK visits “Munitions Victim in a Hospital”. With photo of His Excellence kissing an injured baby. BUTIAMA TUMEZIKA MENGI.” A quote from- Henry Suffa.

The leadership in Tanzania is very predictable. Meetings will be held over this incident but none of the top people responsible will have a sweat over what happened twice over the course of two years. Nobody will voluntary resign or be sacked over their own incompetence, and/or gross irresponsibility.

What you will hear from these meetings are empty promises of never to happen again, “return to your homes…..the place is very secure now”…..the same words heard two years ago. Did it not happen again just the day before yesterday?!?

It is understandable that terrorist acts are actually pretty rare in this part of the globe except for the 1998 Embassy bombings in Dar Es Salaam and Nairobi, but incompetence, irresponsibility and ignorance are horrifyingly common place.

I will end with this quote I saw on one of the daily news channels here “I guess when we sold them the weapons we forgot to include instruction manuals on how to store ammunitions”. It really cracked me up despite the seriousness of the whole issue