Builders, Truth-Tellers, and Catalysts

September 28, 2017

Sounds fun… right?! Last month on top of getting to spend time in Tanzania (my happy place), I got to spend 4 days with a group of 700 really fascinating, driven individuals keen to learn, grow, and make this world a better place at the TEDGlobal Conference. Outside of the fact that I was sleep deprived, I was stoked about all that I learned and the incredible community of smart people I met. These people were willing to take their talents and share them in hopes of improving the state of our world.

The TED brand is known for their concept of “Ideas worth spreading”; many of you will have watched a TED talk or two online. The expert speakers share on technology, education, business, science, design, and the arts. TED believes “passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world.”

As a lover of learning, I embrace the idea of people who know a lot more than me sharing passionately something that wakes them in the morning and moves them to act.

Workshop: Creating internet access for everyone with Eric Hersman at TEDGlobal 2017 – Builders, Truth Tellers, Catalysts – August 27-30, 2017, Arusha, Tanzania. Photo: Callie Giovanna / TED

David Sengeh, a Biomechatronics engineer, is creating next generation healthcare solutions for the developing world using artificial intelligence (AI). He is based in Kenya and works for IBM Research Africa. He is also the co-founder of Global Minimum which develops platforms to foster innovation and learning through making. This really helped me start to understand how AI can be incredibly valuable solving many challenges we currently face.

Su Kahumbu Stephanou is the CEO of Green Dreams TECH and the app iCow. Her app supports farmers caring for livestock so they can access livestock calendars, track fertility cycles of their animals, as well as guide them on breeding, nutrition, and milk production. The app has helped farmers increase productivity and incomes. The fact we can use mobile telephones to enable millions of farmers’ access to crucial information that isn’t accessible or difficult to find really got my wheels turning. If we can do this for farmers, what can we use with this same technology to support teachers and build their capacity throughout Tanzania. Africa has 1 billion mobile phone subscribers; reaching people through their devices is the way forward.

TEDx Group Photo at TEDGlobal 2017 – Builders, Truth Tellers, Catalysts – August 27-30, 2017, Arusha, Tanzania. Photo: Callie Giovanna / TED

These two speakers are just scraping the surface of what I was able to see and learn from. When you see art start conversations and bridge divides, solutions to solve the global food crisis presented, and drones making supply chain networks more efficient to deliver blood and medical supplies you can’t help but be hopeful. Dig deeper here.

Hosts Chris Anderson and Emeka Okafor at TEDGlobal 2017 – Builders, Truth Tellers, Catalysts – August 27-30, 2017, Arusha, Tanzania. Photo: Bret Hartman / TED

Our world and the people who live in it are pretty incredible. While I have gotten to surround myself with so many intelligent, well meaning people, I have seen the dark parts too. I know the reality that exists for many of my students and other of the world’s most vulnerable people. It hurts, but I choose to live optimistically. I choose to come in and out of these sort of conferences or settings reinvigorated with a belief of what is possible. Take a moment to go out of your comfort zone and meet someone who knows a lot about something you know nothing about. Find the builders, those who speak truth to power and are catalysts in your community. Ask them questions, understand their world, and maybe, just maybe, a bit of their passion will seep into you. Maybe their fire will ignite something in you, and that desire to make the world a better place can continue to spread.
Posted in Advocacy, Development, Events, News, Tanzania | Comments closed

An Impact Study on Most Outstanding Teacher Awards

September 20, 2017

For the past two years, The Foundation For Tomorrow has awarded select teachers in Meru and Arusha City Councils with a Most Outstanding Teacher Award (MOTA). The general objective of this award is to increase teachers’ motivation, self-belief, and professional identity, and also to influence school management teams to stay aware of positive professional practices and set high expectations for school employees.

This month, we conducted an evaluation study to test how the recognition and awarding of the outstanding teachers results in an increase the awarded teachers’ motivation, self-belief, and professional identity, and also that of their peers. The evaluation also aimed to determine whether MOTA has influenced the school management teams’ awareness of good teaching practices.

The evaluation study was carried out through interviews with the awardees and observation in their respective schools and classrooms. According to the evaluation finding MOTA has positively influenced the awardees, other teachers and school managements in many ways. Below are some of the evaluation results which demonstrates the impact of MOTA.


The MOTA has encouraged and inspired the recognized and awarded teachers to put more effort into the use of teaching aids during instruction and trying new techniques to improve instruction. The awarded teachers noted that creativity and innovation, as well as ability to create a rewarding and engaging learning experience, were among the criteria that used during the search of the most outstanding teacher. The award has inspired them to use a variety of teaching aids and continue to think of fresh approaches. The majority of the school leaders pointed out that MOTA increased the creativity of teachers in making and using various teaching aids. For instance, one school management team noted, After receiving the award Mr. Mdee (awardee) has increased innovative techniques in creating different teaching resources. For example, he created a Knowledge Television – one resource which contains different subjects and topics.”

One awardee noted:

“The recognition for receiving the award acted as a catalyst for increasing my efforts. Since then, I have worked extra hard, eager to learn new teaching techniques through reading books and online resources. Implementing these techniques in the classroom has challenged me to continue to do things differently for the sake of my students. I see myself as a role model for the other teachers in my school.”

Teachers’ interview responses provided insight about how they felt as a result of receiving the award. There was consistency in the interview responses between the awardees, other teachers, and school leaders. The awardees reported that the award challenged them to do better to become the best teachers they can be and continue to be a role model to other teachers in their respective schools. The school leaders reported that the awards inspire other teachers to improve their teaching habits, as they aspire to follow in the awardees footsteps and one day gain recognition for their own teaching performance. 


Respondents revealed that the recognition and awarding of outstanding teachers has strengthened relationships between teachers, school committees, and parents. It has increased cooperation as well as teamwork among teachers and school management. Teacher focus group discussions and awardees’ interviews attested that MOTA has contributed to the collaboration of teachers in creation of teaching and learning resources, the identification and support of challenged learners, and in working as a team in the assessment of students.

Awardee from Meru District “…. Unlike before, the award and recognition has strengthened bonds and cooperation with my fellow teachers, we have been able to co-create teaching aids and encourage their use because it was one of the criteria behind why I was selected for the award. I came back to my school after receiving the award, and my colleagues felt valued as well. It was not ‘Me’ awarded, but ‘We’ – all the teachers were part of the achievement I was recognized for.”


MOTA has built the trust of teachers and school leaders towards the awarded teacher. This is demonstrated by the willingness of other teachers to ask for help in the preparation of teaching aids and wanting to learn best teaching practices from the awardee. MOTA has increased parents’ relationships with the school by creating trust and involvement in their child’s education.

MOTA has demonstrated good practices, as we have seen it has influenced a strong sense of vocation that encourages teachers to plan and deliver thoughtful, engaging lessons. The awardees see themselves as role models for students, and their colleagues. Their motivation to support those who are struggling has also been increased. TFFT will continue to expand the positive impact of MOTA at a community level in the future.

Posted in Teacher Training, TFFT's Partners | Comments closed

Meet Kieran from Team TFFT

September 13, 2017

We are thrilled about our new Team TFFT website, which makes it possible for both individual and group fundraisers to support TFFT in improving access to quality education through athletic endeavors. We’ll be sharing more soon, and today, we are excited for you to meet Kieran, one of Team TFFT’s athletes. He is a freshman in high school, and his story for why he supports TFFT is inspiring. If you are interested in joining Team TFFT, please email us at support (at) teamtfft (dot) org. RIDETZ 2018 is also open for registration!

Where are you from?

I was born in Chicago, but Charlotte has been home for most of my life.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to run, bike, and swim, as well as hang out with friends and family. I also love to go fly-fishing and snowboarding.

Who is your inspiration in life?

I have a lot of inspirational people in my life but my biggest two are probably my parents. I admire them for their incredible work-ethic and sheer determination.

What inspired you to support TFFT?

I have been involved with TFFT for a long time, at first because of my family. My mom has been volunteering with TFFT for as long as I can remember and she kind of pulled me into their network. I have always believed in the organization’s mission to provide quality education to vulnerable kids in East Africa. When I was in fifth grade I remember a donation my parents made to TFFT’s Full Circle Program. Being raised in a competitive family, I immediately tried to top them. I donated money that I received for my birthday to the Full Circle Program and met with Kaitlin Rogers Perez to learn more about what my donation meant. Ever since, I have been involved with TFFT in various ways.

Tell us a bit about yourself, such as where you go to school, cross country, and how you decided to start a profile for Team TFFT?

I am currently 14 years old and a freshman at Weddington High School. I’ve been running for nearly half of my life. I ran on the cross country and track team in middle school and decided to keep that going in high school. The mileage is a lot more and the workouts are difficult, but cross country is a great sport that allows for many incredible opportunities. This June I got braces put on, and as many people know, they are expensive.  My mom is tough about gratitude, understanding privilege, and having perspective.  After a “discussion” explaining needs vs. wants, she threw down a challenge.  She said yes to the braces, if I agreed to raise $5,760 (the full amount of the braces) for the non-profit of my choice.  I accepted the challenge and am now fundraising for TFFT throughout my 2017/2018 XC season. I’m excited to see if I can hit my goal and help TFFT scholars have the same opportunities that I’ve been given.

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Livelihood Project Update

September 7, 2017

One of the projects that TFFT’s Psychosocial & Health Program works on is our Livelihood Initiatives project. TFFT implemented this project as a means of supporting and economically enabling the heads of household for our scholars. As much educational support as these young and brilliant minds receive, they still go back to their homes and are faced with extreme poverty that affect their well-being. As we seek to tackle the cycle of poverty through holistic interventions, our Livelihood Initiatives program addresses the relationship between household livelihoods and children’s well-being.

Since the Livelihood Initiatives project was implemented, a total of 95 households have received interest free micro-loans to start an income generating activity. With these loans, most invested in agriculture and animal keeping businesses. Others invested in selling day to day essential items like clothing, shoes, food, and toiletries. Since receiving these loans, the guardians of our scholars’ households have been able to establish a standing income, and through that they are able to cater for immediate needs of their families. They have completed loan returns and are doing well with their businesses.

To date, TFFT has given loan support to 95 households, most headed by women. Within the women-headed households, we have groups of women involved in different income generating activities, including:

We regularly visit the households to monitor their business and progress. A good number of them have businesses that are running well, their efforts and returns are satisfying, and they may be considered for the next phase of loan disbursement. These families are grateful for the support, through which they have been able to tend to immediate concerns and needs of their children and the family at large.

In addition to monetary support, they also attend brief trainings that equip them with financial knowledge, record keeping, and business management skills. These are different from the parent/guardian trainings organized by TFFT.

Posted in Psychosocial + Health, Scholarship Program, Tanzania, TFFT's Partners | Comments closed

Witnessing Scholar Progress

September 5, 2017

Recently, I was able to spend an afternoon with some of our Secondary Scholars at Usa River Academy. We were able to introduce Haruni, our new team member, to the scholars. We also introduced Shellagh, a TFFT volunteer who is from Australia. It is always great to have a check-in with the scholars and hear updates about what is going on in their personal lives, in school, any challenges, and their latest academic progress. TFFT Alumna, Irene, studied at Usa River Academy, and also accompanied our team on the school visit. She provided valuable insight to our scholars about life at school and how to make academic improvements.

I enjoyed observing Irene speaking candidly to the scholars. Since she studied in the same environment, she had a powerful impact on them. She performed very well on her Form Four National Exams, and then she joined Arusha Modern School for her advanced studies. Now Irene is studying Information System Management at Ardhi University.

Irene really inspired the scholars she spoke with when she explained her determination to be in the top five of her class. She shared that she used to struggle in math, so she decided to practice solving at least 25 math questions each day in order to improve. The scholars present admired her approach and expressed interest in using similar techniques and commitment to make any necessary improvements in their own studies.

Each team member also gave advice to our scholars. We suggested how working together can be helpful. Scholars who perform well in a subject can assist their peers who are struggling. We also suggested productive ways to seek help from teachers if they fail to understand what was taught in class.

After our discussion, the went to play sports. Every Friday afternoon at Usa River Academy, the scholars play sports with their peers. Most of our male scholars play soccer and girls play netball. The Friday that we visited, they had a soccer competition organized with a nearby school, Maji ya Chai Secondary (a government school). It was exciting to see our scholars’ excitement for the game!

Posted in Scholarship Program, TFFT Student Work | Comments closed

Graduation at Usa River Academy!

September 1, 2017

On August 26th, The TFFT family celebrated the graduation of two scholars, Yusuph E. Logeria and Mandu Joseph, from Usa River Academy. This milestone is a great symbol of TFFT’s work. The TFFT team, donors, volunteers, and partners are all happy to see orphans and vulnerable children have access to quality education so that they may reach their full potential and thrive in their community.

Yusuph and Mandu completed Class 7. They will sit for their Class 7 National Exams next week. Mandu and Yusuph both feel confident about the upcoming exams. It meant a lot to them that the TFFT team showed up to support them on their special day. Yusuph said that he is proud of his accomplishments and that graduating Class 7 is his first step towards fulfilling his dream of becoming a police officer. “Thanks to TFFT for helping me from baby class through graduation. After completing my secondary education, I want to be a police officer and serve my country” he said. This graduation was also a special mark for TFFT because Yusuph, the third of the triplets that captured Meghann’s heart at Nkoaranga Orphanage in 2004, graduated Class 7.

Mandu considers his graduation from Class 7 as the beginning of preparation towards the long journey to become an Engineer. “I am a graduate, and I am so happy for this day! I thank TFFT for supporting me since I was a baby. After finishing my studies I want to be an engineer” Mandu said excitedly when asked how way it felt to be a graduate.

It was wonderful to see the TFFT team witness some of our scholars receive recognition awards for various areas. Angel Nyange received an academic award for best Preparatory Class pupil of the year, Salome Joseph the best Class 1 pupil of the year, Nelson Greyson the best Class 5 pupil of the year and a certificate of appreciation for showing exemplary leadership ability, and Athumani Juma the best Form 1 pupil of the year.

In addition to the academic awards, certificates of appreciation where awarded to Gideon Loishiye for most academic improvements and the most disciplined pupil in his class, Paulina Mimereki for most academic improvements in her class, and Kennedy Lomboy for best sport.

Throughout the day, all of the students at Usa River Academy participated in various performances to celebrate graduation. I loved the moment of getting to see TFFT Scholar Omary on the stage, performing an amazing and interesting dance. He captured the entire audience! All of the TFFT Scholars participated in these performances with their peers, and each scholar shined in the activities.

And now, some more pictures from graduation day… it was a cheerful and exciting celebration for all!

Posted in Events, Scholarship Program, Tanzania, TFFT Student Work | Comments closed

Introducing Haruni

August 25, 2017

We are thrilled to welcome Haruni to the team as our Academic Affairs and Student Support Coordinator! His strong passion for quality education and our mission is inspiring, and we are excited to see the positive impact he will bring to TFFT. Welcome, Haruni!

My name is Haruni, I am married and have a two year old daughter. I am from the southern highland part of Tanzania. I attended university in Dodoma and Arusha. I enjoy spending time with my family, storytelling, evening walks, and engaging in sports and games like volleyball, football and biking.

I have always worked in an educational environment. I have been teaching biology, chemistry, and science subjects since 2006 in various schools. From 2006-2012, I taught chemistry and biology in secondary schools, and then from 2013-2015 I taught at the school of St. Jude. From 2015 through this past June, I served as an educational consultant before joining TFFT. Working in educational settings for ten years strengthened my ability to deal with academic matters, has increased my career awareness, and given me the knowledge of how to best work and communicate with our partner schools. My previous work also developed my understanding of basic student needs, which I see as a key asset to my role as TFFT’s Academic Affair and Student Support Coordinator.

I love making differences in people’s lives. Working with TFFT, I am able to do this through bringing to life the vision and mission of providing educational opportunity to vulnerable children. I believe that if most vulnerable children and orphans are given the chance to discover their potential through quality education, they can positively contribute to the development of their country.

I heard about TFFT in 2015 when I was working with the school of St. Jude and one of my co-workers described TFFT’s work to me which sparked my interest. When the job opened up and was a role that fit my experience and skill, I decided to apply so as to be part of the team and bring positive impact to the greater community.


Posted in Introductions, Scholarship Program | Comments closed

Social and Emotional Assessment

August 10, 2017

Towards the end of July, I conducted a social and emotional assessment of our scholars at Usa River Academy and Arusha Modern School. Social and emotional skills include a broad set of competencies that play a vital role in shaping students achievement, adult well-being, workplace readiness, and management of social interactions.

As an organization that seeks to create a bright future for developing nations, the significance of social and emotional skills assessment to our scholars cannot be emphasized enough. The results of this assessment are expected to point out any gaps in the emotional and social development of our scholars. In return, we find ways to integrate social and emotional learning in the various programs we conduct for scholars such as our monthly family cells, youth camp, and mentoring opportunities.

Of the many competencies rounded up in social and emotional skills, there are 15 different skills linked to academic and future adult success. A few of them are: self-control, responsibility, attentiveness, pro-social behavior, and mastery of orientation. Our selected research tool narrowed down these skills to effectively measure self-control, persistence, mastery of orientation, and academic self-efficacy. Our focus is to encourage the development and enrichment each of these skills. For example, building persistence in a child can be done through teaching stress coping mechanisms and how to deal with failure or setbacks; this will eventually strengthen a child’s resilience.

I had a brief meeting with class teachers to present a survey they could answer to further assist students. The teachers were glad to have such a platform to use as a tool to better manage students. Using these kind of surveys, we can measure the extent to which a child can stay focused on a task, how patient they are, how long can they delay gratification, how much they are interested in learning and completing their school work with no supervision, and more of the like.

In addition to questions on the teacher survey, the teachers also recorded both positive and negative behaviors exhibited by our scholars, so that we can encourage and enhance the positive ones and deal with negative tendencies through counseling and putting behavioral intervention plans into action. The outcome of the assessment will tell us of how academically motivated a student is. Its impact on TFFT as an organization, then, is for us to advise our scholars to continue on a traditional higher education path for college after their scholarship ends, or opt for a vocational training college. We look forward to continue carrying out this assessment to others of our partner schools in order to strengthen positive traits in our scholars.

Posted in Psychosocial + Health, Scholarship Program, Tanzania, Teacher Training, TFFT Student Work, TFFT's Partners | Comments closed

Full Circle Inter-School Competition

August 7, 2017

This year, our Full Circle Program focused on conducting an inter-school competition at the secondary school level in Arusha. Last year, TFFT’s inter-school competition was conducted in Meru District with primary school students only. The approach this year was to involve government secondary schools.

This competition was for mathematics, science and essay writing with the following objectives:

  1. Stimulate enthusiasm and love for Mathematics and Science
  2. Provide students with an engaging and challenging experience
  3. Motivate rigorous instruction in math and science, as well as writing skills
  4. Encourage teachers to teach for mastery of topics as well as practical applications of mathematic and scientific concepts in their classes
  5. Develop among students the joy and thrill of meeting challenges as well as build their confidence in handling pressure
  6. Provide feedback to schools and teachers on mastery of topics and gaps in understanding of concepts by students

This competition was opened to students from Form 1 through Form 4, located in Arusha City. 150 students from 25 schools participated. Each participating school was to send 1 contestant for essay writing in English, 1 contestant for essay writing in Kiswahili, and 4 students who would make up a team to compete for the Science and Math’s competition. Girls were highly encouraged to participate.

There were two rounds of competition for the math and science contest. The first round was an elimination round where participants took a written test. The test was scored, and the top 10 students were selected to seat for the second round and final round of the competition. For many students, this was the first time they had the opportunity to participate in a competition with so many peers from other schools. After first round, I asked many of the participants what they thought their chance of winning the competition was. They said they were not sure, as they thought they might be the best in their own school but they didn’t know how they would compare to students from other schools.

The winners from each of the 3 contests have been selected and are awaiting their awards. A girl won the science competition, three boys won the math competition, and four girls won for the English and Kiswahili essay writing competition. The awards ceremony will take place at the schools of each of the winners, where we will announce the winner and present their prize in front of the student body with the goal of motivating the teachers and students alike. Handing out the awards will take place in the third week of August. Prizes and certificates of recognition would be awarded to the winners, their teacher-coaches, and schools, and I will share about it in my next blog. I also plan to interview some of the winners to share what they think about the inter-school competition and awarding! Stay tuned.

Posted in Events, Tanzania, TFFT Student Work, TFFT's Partners | Comments closed

Training Needs Analysis in Heaven Primary School

August 1, 2017

Throughout last month, I carried out a training needs analysis at Heaven Primary School in Arusha City. Heaven is a private English school that currently serves children in nursery class through grade four. The school is operated by Sister Crispina Mnate and the St. Joseph’s orphanage in Kiserian village outside Arusha. The school consulted The Foundation For Tomorrow to provide teachers with professional development training as part of a school improvement program. Thus, the teacher training program decided to conduct a training needs assessment to prepare for a training tailored for the school. The assessment aimed to systematically identify and prioritize needs for an in-service teachers training program for Heaven Primary School, and to provide baseline information for monitoring skill development during the evolution of TFFT & Heaven Primary School’s work together.

The training needs analysis was triangulated from various sources of information, including classroom observations, focused group discussion with the school management team, and a survey of needs from the teachers. This helped us to understand and identify needs needs for the training to take place.

Observations were conducted in nine classrooms, where each teacher was observed during a 40 minute lesson. The purpose of the classroom observations was to 1) gauge the strengths of the teachers and pinpoint areas that they need improvement and help on, 2) identify a variety of teaching methods that are presently used by teachers in the school, and 3) establish baseline data which will be used as a benchmark in the evaluation of the impact and influence of TFFT’s teacher training program towards teaching practices.

TFFT’s classroom observation considers six elements of teaching practices: planning for effective instruction, learning organization, classroom management, knowledge of the subject matter and teaching style, instructional techniques, and encouragement to engage in critical thinking.

TFFT’s training needs assessment surveys were completed by the teachers so that we could figure out specific needs of the teachers apart from what was gathered from our classroom observations. The focused group discussion with the school leaders consisted of a structured conversation which allowed people to express their point of views to the group. The school manager, head teacher, deputy head teacher, and academic head participated in the discussion to provide the information for the needs of the teachers’ professional development. The ultimate goal of this training needs analysis was to aid our preparation for a tailored training for the school.

Thank you!

Noah Kayanda.

Posted in Tanzania, Teacher Training, TFFT's Partners | Comments closed

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