Friday, August 20, 2010

Innovate: Teacher Shortages in Tanzania

Joseph Sekiku staying in touch by phone with his staff while he attends an Africa Rising meeting in June 2010
Joseph Sekiku is a brilliant scientist, inventor, and entrepreneur in Tanzania.  He is the founder of The Family Alliance for Development and Cooperation (FADECO).  He built the radio transmitter that allows his radio station, Radio FADECO, to broadcast educational and human rights information that improves the lives and livelihoods of Tanzanians.  Joseph's work for the past 20 years has been in teaching small scale farmers how markets work and how they can move beyond subsistence by adopting new approaches to postharvest production, marketing, and distribution.  Joseph is always looking toward the future of Tanzania and how to improve the lives of his fellow Tanzanians.  Naturally, this led him to consider the educational opportunities of children in his district. 
An empty school room that Joseph is working to see filled with students learning science and math
Unfortunately, he found that there are not enough teachers available in Tanzania to teach science and math.  One solution Joseph is pursing is advocacy to the government to bring teachers into Tanzania from Kenya where there is a surplus of qualified teachers.  It will likely take years to see results this way, and Joseph is not satisfied to leave current students without learning opportunities.  So, he is using his radio station to broadcast expert teachers giving lessons in science and math.  He then makes sure that schools in the area that lack teachers in these subjects tune in to the radio broadcasts so that students receive instruction.  This innovation allows for learning that otherwise would not occur, and it is much better for students and the country than an empty classroom.   

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