August has been a busy month for the TFFT team. As the new Full Circle Program Manager, I have been very busy taking over where Chloe left off. Introducing the Full Circle curriculum at a new school, monitoring the schools that are already piloting the curriculum, leading a training on puberty education, and meeting with the ward education coordinators and representatives from the district education office were my priorities. I also assisted the Scholarship Program Manager on issues that fall under “life skills” for our scholars.
As we’ve explained before, TFFT wrote curriculum materials for use in the Personality Development and Sports (PDS) class. This includes training for PDS teachers and toolkit supply. I recently introduced the Full Circle pilot project to Sinai, the school TFFT is co-managing. The training was very fun because all teachers were interested and attended the training even though they were not all PDS teachers. At the end they saw how important is PDS subject. Though they have only one PDS teacher for entire school, they agreed all of them would take the PDS class.
During my time monitoring and observing the curriculum implementation at all 10 piloting schools, I noticed many notable positive changes. Teachers have already changed the way of teaching PDS and other subjects. They are using the activities and are taking a more participatory approach in their teaching. Some of government schools teachers are reporting an increase in attendance. In the past the schools skipped PDS activities because there were no tools to support them, but with the toolkit we provided these activities are now possible. Students are very happy that they are now learning in PDS compared to before when PDS was just idle time. Teachers no longer see PDS as the burden because they are well prepared. Now that they have seen the importance of teaching life skills through PDS, they wish to see this curriculum implemented all over Tanzania so students can learn life skills that are essential for them.
An important part of life skills education is awareness of the changes of puberty. Last week Noah and I led a puberty education and risky behavior training for class 5 and 6 students at Sylus Anderson, one of our pilot schools. I decided we should separate the boys and girls for the training because from my experience it’s best to teach these topics in separate sessions so that students are more comfortable and willing to participate. Surprisingly when I asked their opinion on whether to separate them or combine them, they shouted they want to be combined. Nevertheless, Noah trained the boys, and I trained the girls. It was the best life skills class I ever taught on Puberty education.
The students were very eager to learn and asked so many questions without fear or shame. They promised to share with their young sisters and brothers and friends.
Below are some of questions that the students asked:
- Is it possible to escape menstruation?
- What happens if I don’t menstruate? Will I die or become infertile?
- Is sex important when some one is in puberty stage?
- My parents are poor and they can not afford to buy me sanitary towel (pads) I use piece of cotton cloth or kanga and during this season they don’t dry what can I do to help myself, any other alternatives that are not costing money?
Lastly, early today we had meeting with all ward educational coordinator and representatives from the District Education Office. The purpose of this meeting was to follow-up on what we agreed on in our February meeting, including where we are with implementation, setbacks, and plans moving forward. It was encouraging when some of the ward education coordinators said they wished that we had piloted this project in their ward and asked if it were possible to provide toolkits to their ward.
Overall it was a productive and successful month. Thank you for reading and for your support!