Secondary Education Science Teacher

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Project Description

Karibu Tanzania! Present since 1961, Tanzania is one of Peace Corps’ oldest programs. Despite progress in reducing barriers to secondary education, Tanzania has a limited number of qualified teachers, particularly in the fields of Math and Science (mainly Physics). Stakeholders have recognized the need for students to develop skills in these fields to enable problem solving both in and out of the classroom. In response to this, the Peace Corps Tanzania project emphasizes hands-on learning, extracurricular activities, and community involvement in student learning to boost student achievement and encourage them to become self-reliant problem solvers.

Peace Corps Secondary Education Science Teachers work in rural Tanzanian villages and teach General Science, Chemistry, Biology and Physics to students aged 12-20. Volunteers prepare lesson plans using a variety of teaching methods and syllabus developed by the Ministry of Education. To connect classroom concepts to real-world situations, Volunteers also organize experiential learning activities like field trips and guest speakers. Volunteers might be asked to teach additional subjects as needed depending on their knowledge and background. As part of capacity building activities, Volunteers are encouraged to develop professional relationships with Tanzanian teachers and organize communities of practice, or spaces to share best teaching practices. In addition to teaching students and working with teachers, Volunteers are encouraged to engage community members to increase their involvement in student learning. This may be done by organizing events like math competitions or science fairs and training community members on gender-equitable techniques that increase access to learning.

Volunteers can expect to encounter large class sizes (50+) and limited resources. The main teaching materials will probably be a blackboard and chalk, though some schools may be better equipped. In Tanzania, schools use a centralized curriculum provided by the Ministry of Education. Most of the teaching resources are available locally. Peace Corps also provides Volunteers basic materials and resources to use in their teaching.

On average, Volunteers teach 11-16 hours per week. Along with classroom teaching, many are involved in 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. This includes 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, which include Education, Health and Agriculture.

Peace Corps Tanzania promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. You will receive training on gender challenges and you will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During your service, you will look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency. As part of your work, you will also report on these efforts.

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 open a dialogue between Volunteers and their colleagues, and to explore culturally appropriate and acceptable alternatives to corporal punishment.

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.
•Teaching experience with a strong desire to teach science in Tanzania.

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

Trainees will receive 10 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 as needed during Peace Corps service.

Living Conditions

Tanzania is a large country located in East Africa and known for Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti Wildlife National Park. It has a diverse geography, ranging from hot and dry in the central part of the country, hot and humid in the coastal areas, and cool to cold temperatures in highland and mountainous areas to the South and North depending on the season.

During the hottest months (November through February) temperatures range from 90-105 degrees in the lowlands, and 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit in the highlands. During the cold season (June through August), temperatures range from 60-75 degrees in the lowlands and coast, and from 40-50 degrees in the highlands. There are short rains in November or December, and longer rains between March and May.

Volunteers are placed primarily in underserved and undeveloped rural communities. These sites are generally within a few hours of small to mid-size district towns, with banks, a variety of shops, markets, local restaurants and guesthouses. Travel to Dar es Salaam can take anywhere from 5 hours to three days by road. Volunteers generally use public buses as a main mode of transportation.

The host village/school provides Volunteer housing. This is typically a stand-alone house or private quarters alongside a host family. Housing structures vary from mud houses with metal roofs to concrete houses with glass windows. Volunteers use pit latrines, outdoor bath facilities, and fetch water from a village water source. There may be no electricity, in which case kerosene or solar lamps will be the main source of lighting, and charcoal stoves or kerosene stoves are used for cooking and heating during cold spells. Despite the modest conditions, Tanzanians keep their homes and courtyards clean and tidy. Peace Corps Volunteers are expected to do likewise, and if need be, can obtain help with washing clothes, fetching water and/or other household chores at an affordable cost.

Personal appearance is of great importance in Tanzania. Female Volunteers are expected to wear modest dresses and long skirts (well below the knees, with upper arms and shoulders covered) and modest shoes or sandals in their communities. On the island of Zanzibar or in other coastal Muslim communities, females tend to be more accepted when they cover their heads, as is the custom for women in those communities. When out running or exercising, females should wear a sarong or cloth tied over shorts or yoga pants. Male Volunteers should wear slacks, collared shirts, and loafers or other closed toed shoes when presenting themselves professionally. Hair should be neat or tied back. Volunteers’ professional appearance, work habits, and positive attitude towards colleagues and community members will go a long way towards helping them gain the respect of their community.

Volunteers will encounter very different social and cultural norms that require flexibility and understanding. For example, the American sense of privacy in terms of information-sharing or physical space doesn’t really exist in many Tanzanian communities. Volunteers are frequently asked personal questions, e.g. one’s religion and marital status, and people will wonder why a Volunteer might want quiet moments alone. As a foreigner, there is also the added element of curiosity from children as well as adults.

It is important to note that Tanzania has restrictive laws that target LGBTQ individuals. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and country-specific laws. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address how to navigate this aspect of identity 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.

Couples Information

Peace Corps Tanzania can accommodate couples teaching the same or different subjects. Therefore, your partner must apply and qualify for:

• Secondary Education Math Teacher; or
• Secondary Education Science Teacher

Couples live and serve together throughout their service. This includes living with a homestay family during the 10-week Pre-Service Training, as well as in the village for the 2 years of service. Housing requirements stipulated by PC for couples are the same as those for single Volunteers because it would be unusual to find houses that are much larger than the standard small house.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.

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