Secondary Education Science Teacher

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Project Description

Secondary Education Science Teachers will teach general science, biology, chemistry, and physics to secondary school students (ages 12-20) with limited English proficiency. Volunteers can expect to encounter large class sizes (50+) and limited resources. The main teaching materials will probably be a blackboard and chalk. Some schools may be better equipped with stocked laboratories, libraries or computers but resources will vary depending upon the support the school receives from the Ministry of Education and elsewhere.

The Tanzanian educational system is very different from the United States educational system in most respects. It is a very rigid, authoritarian, highly academic system based primarily on the rote learning of facts with the aim of passing national examinations after the 4th and 6th years of secondary school.

In Tanzania, schools use centralized curriculum provided by the Ministry of Education. Likewise, most of the teaching resources are available locally. Peace Corps provides Volunteers with some basic resources to use in their teaching as well.

Volunteers will prepare lesson plans using a variety of teaching methods and use the syllabus developed by the Ministry of Education. Developing professional relationships with Tanzanian teachers, with the aim of collaborating on educational activities, is strongly encouraged.

A Volunteer’s work hours depend on the settings in which he/she works. As a teacher, they work with their school to get a teaching schedule. For many schools day start between 7:30-7:45am and end between 2:00- 2:30pm depending on the individual school settings. On average the normal work day is 8 hours Monday-Thursday, but Fridays are a little shorter, ending around 1:00pm to allow time for Muslim communities to attend Friday prayers.

On Average Volunteers are expected to teach between 16 to 24 periods per week, each of 40 Minutes; this is equivalent to 11 - 16 hours of teaching per week. Schools start in January and run through December with an Easter break of 1 week in March/April and a month long break in June. There is also a one week break in September followed with the annual/Christmas month break in December. Volunteers are therefore expected to take vacation when schools are on break.

Corporal punishment is legal and a common way teachers discipline their students. While the government has regulations regarding permissible forms of corporal punishment, these rules are not always followed or enforced at the local level. Volunteers will most likely encounter corporal punishment, which may or may not adhere to the legal restrictions. Many Volunteers find this aspect of life very challenging, particularly when it is necessary to develop good working relationships with colleagues. Peace Corps Tanzania has implemented a Student Friendly Schools program, to address these issues and open a dialogue between Volunteers and their colleagues, and to explore culturally appropriate and acceptable alternatives to corporal punishment.

Along with classroom teaching, many Volunteers are involved with school clubs, sports, youth conferences, and other extracurricular activities. Volunteers will integrate Peace Corps Tanzania's Cross Sectoral Program Priorities into their teaching and community development: HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Gender, Food Security, and Technology. Volunteers also have the opportunity to serve on a variety of Peace Corps committees that support the country program.

Required Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education with concentration in any science
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with secondary certification in science
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in General Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, or Engineering
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any physical science or any biological science or equivalent
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with a minor or equivalent in Biology, Chemistry, or Physics

Desired Skills

A University Degree in any Science subject strongly preferred

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. Please take a moment to explore the Language Comments section below to find out more on how local language(s) will be utilized during service.

Additional Language Information

Trainees will receive 11 weeks of training in the predominant language, Swahili, and must attain an Intermediate-Mid oral proficiency level before swearing-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Additional language training will be offered through independent tutoring and training throughout service.

Living Conditions

Karibu Tanzania! Tanzania is located in East Africa in a tropic region where most of the areas experience hot weather except for the highland areas, which are relatively cold. Volunteers are placed in communities in areas in the far north, far south, southwest, central zone, and Zanzibar islands but not the west. Most Volunteers live in underserved mid-sized communities or rural settings. Volunteers generally live within a few hours of larger district towns, but travel to Dar es Salaam can take anywhere from 8 hours to two days depending on where they are located in the country. Volunteers generally use public buses or bicycles as their main mode of transportation.

The village government provides a Volunteer’s housing, which is generally located at a school but can be elsewhere within the community. Housing is generally made of either cement block or fire brick with tin or tile roofs. Volunteers have pit latrines and outdoor bath facilities, and fetch water from a village water source. There may be no electricity in your village/house. Kerosene or solar lamps will be the main source of lighting and charcoal stoves or kerosene stoves will be used for cooking and heating during cold spells. Peace Corps provides a settling-in allowance that can be used to purchase those furnishings necessary to make your house comfortable on a modest scale.

In Tanzania, respect comes with age and experience. Younger Volunteers experience initial difficulties gaining respect from their counterparts. However, a Volunteer’s professional appearance, work habits, and positive attitude towards colleagues and community members will help him/her gain respect within the workplace.

Personal appearance is of great importance to Tanzanians. A female Volunteer working as a teacher is expected to wear modest dresses and long skirts (far below the knees, with shoulders covered) and nice flats or sandals at work or in their communities. Male Volunteers should wear slacks, collared shirts, and loafers or other closed toed shoes when presenting themselves professionally.

Volunteers encounter very different social and cultural norms that require flexibility and understanding. For example, the American sense of privacy is a curiosity here. Volunteers are frequently asked about their religion and marital status. Volunteers are viewed as role models within their communities, and their lives are very public. Volunteers often feel they are "on stage".

Tanzania is south of the equator, the seasons will be opposite of the USA. During the cold season (June-August), temperatures range from 60- 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the lowlands and coastal areas and 40-50 degrees in the highlands. The hottest months of the year are November- January when temperatures in the highlands range from 70- 80 degrees and those in the lowlands range from 90- 105 degrees, with considerable humidity. The rainy season starts in November or December and continues through April. The rest of the year is dry, but many highland areas have showers and mist year-round.

Peace Corps Tanzania provides support to a diverse group of Volunteers of various faiths, identities, and sexual orientations. It is important to note that Tanzania has restrictive laws that target certain sexual acts, which is a challenge for Volunteers. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and country-specific laws, and use their best judgment to determine how to approach topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities and host country. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address how to navigate this aspect of identity during pre-service training, and what support mechanisms are available. Please refer to the Local Laws and Special Circumstances of the U.S. Department of State's travel page for more information:

Prospective Volunteers are encouraged to discuss any questions or concerns during the interview.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Tanzania: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Medical Considerations in Tanzania

  • Tanzania may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild or childhood; cardiology; dermatology; insulin-dependent diabetes; gastroenterology; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; seizure disorder; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse.  
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: gluten and peanut.
  • After arrival in Tanzania, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot, to take daily or weekly medication to prevent malaria, and to receive mandatory immunizations.

Before you apply, please also review Important Medical Information for Applicants [PDF] to learn about other health conditions typically not supported in Peace Corps service.

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