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New phase approved for Zanzibar English Language Programme - 1992-03-01

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Event - 1992-03-01
Sunday, 1992, March 1

Since July 1989, AFK's education programme has been concerned with the integration of Zanzibar primary school children into secondary schools in which English is the medium of instruction. Although some English is taught in primary school, AFK became aware that the children's English was not at a sufficent level to carry out all their school work in English. The approval by the AFK Board of a second phase of the Zanzibar English Lanuage Programme in June 1991 guarantees that AFK's efforts to help these children make the transition to English lanuage instruction will continue for at least another year and will be extended to ten more schools on Unguja (Zanzibar) and Pemba. In July 1989, the Haile Selassie Secondary School was chosen as the pilot school for introduction of the Form I English Language Orientation Course (FIELOC). Materials from Mzizima were introduced and teams of teachers started to meet weekly to adapt them for use in Zanzibar. Children in Form I (mid-teens) of Haile Selassie were introduced to the new material in the first weeks of the new school year (February 1990). The trial lasted for eight to ten weeks with booklets in simplified English for Mathematics, Geography, English, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Both students and teachers alike were very enthusiastic about the materials but were able to give helpful suggestions for improvement. From September to December 1990, workshops were held to discuss the materials and with the help of Bernard Gavin, the English Language specialist who helped create the materials for Mzizima, appropriate changes were made to better adapt the programme to the Zanzibar conditions.
In January 1991, the school's headmaster, Mr. Haroun Suleiman, the co-ordinator, Mr. Suleiman Kitwana, spent ten days visiting the Aga Khan Education Service's School Improvement Programme at its schools in Karachi. As a result, Mr. Suleiman and Mr. Kitwana came to the conclusion that the important preconditions for establishing such a programme in Zanzibar were: strong leadership, trust, a change in the organizational structure of the school to reflect a new trust between the headteacher and his staff, and a commitment to in-service teacher training.

The improved and adpated materials were introduced into four more Zanzibar schools in February 1991: Mkwajuni and Makunduchi schools on Unguja Island, and Konde and Shemani schools on Pemba Island.

Just prior to the start of the academic year, a group of experienced teachers, led by Mr. Kitwana, held training sessions for the teachers in these new schools to familiarize them with the objectives, material and methodology of the course. The new material also included Teachers' Guides.

A Cloze test was used to test the children's reading abilities before and after the introduction of the new materials. Considerable gains in reading scores were registered.

Improvement has been most marked at Haile Selassie where students have now had two years of exposure to the materials. The school won first prize earlier this year in a competition held by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA).

Phase II, funded by AKFC and CIDA, began in July 1991 and will continue until June 1992. During this phase, the booklets will be further revised and distributed to ten more schools in Zanzibar. Teachers will receive pre-course training, while students will be tested more stringently for their English reading levels. The project will be cooperating with the British Council on the use of a reader it has produced to cover the entire first year English Language Study Course. Phase II of English Language Programme should prove to be an exciting learning experience for everyone involved.

Source: The Ismaili Africa

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