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Secondary Education Science Teacher

Project description

Karibu Tanzania! Peace Corps Tanzania was established in 1961, making it one of the Peace Corps’ oldest programs. Despite progress in reducing barriers to secondary education, Tanzania needs 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 support the development of problem-solving skills both in and out of the classroom. In response, the Peace Corps Tanzania project emphasizes hands-on learning, extracurricular activities, and community involvement in student learning to boost student achievement and encourage students 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 ages 12-20. Volunteers prepare lesson plans using a variety of teaching methods and syllabi developed by the Ministry of Education. To connect classroom concepts to real-world situations, Volunteers also organize experiential learning activities, including field trips and periodic recruitment of 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 in student learning. This can be accomplished 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+). The primary 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, and Peace Corps also provides Volunteers with basic materials and resources to use in their teaching.

On average, Volunteers teach 11-16 hours per week. Along with classroom teaching, Volunteers are involved in school clubs, sports, youth conferences, and other extracurricular activities. Volunteers will integrate Peace Corps Tanzania's cross-sectoral approach into their teaching and community development. This includes integrating HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Gender, Food Security, and Technology into the classroom. Volunteers also could serve on a variety of Peace Corps committees that support the country program, which includes 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

Per Government of Tanzania request, candidates cannot have a degree, minor, concentration, or certification in Political Science, International Relations/Affairs, or History. To receive work authorization, they MUST have a degree or certification related to the STEM Education Sector. Eligible degrees include the following:

• Secondary Education with concentration in any Science
• any degree with secondary certification in Science
• Any Physical Science or Biological Science including General Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, or Engineering
• any degree with a minor or equivalent (15 semester/22 quarter hours) in Biology, Chemistry, or Physics

Due to mandatory retirement limitations by the Tanzanian government, applicants to Tanzania’s Peace Corps program must conclude their Peace Corps service prior to the age of 60.

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 11 weeks of Pre-Service Training in the predominant language spoken in Tanzania, Kiswahili, and are required to attain an Intermediate-Mid oral proficiency level before swearing-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Volunteers are expected and encouraged to continue improving their local language skills throughout the service, and Peace Corps Tanzania provides a local language tutoring allowance during service to facilitate continued learning.

Living conditions

Tanzania is a large country located in East Africa and is 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 highland and mountainous areas in the South and North which have cool to cold temperatures depending on the season.

During the hottest months (November-February) temperatures in the lowlands range from 90-105 °F, and 70-80 °F in the highlands. During the cold season (June-August), temperatures range from 60-75 °F in the lowlands and coast, and from 40-50 °F in the highlands. There are shorter rainy seasons in November or December, and longer rainy seasons between March and May.

Volunteers are placed primarily in rural communities. These communities 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 five hours to three days depending on where a Volunteer lives. Volunteers generally use public buses as a main mode of transportation.

The host village provides Volunteer housing. This is typically a stand-alone house. 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 solar lamps will be the main source of lighting, and charcoal stoves or gas stoves are used for cooking and heating during cold spells. Tanzanians keep their homes and courtyards clean and tidy, and Peace Corps Volunteers are expected to do the same.

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 nice flat 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. Volunteers with visible body piercings or tattoos will need strategies to conceal them during the beginning of the integration process in their new schools/communities. A Volunteer’s 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, does not 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. There is also the added element of curiosity from children as well as adults.

Tanzania has some restrictive laws that target certain sexual acts. 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 countries. Staff will address this topic during Pre-Service Training and identify support mechanisms for incoming trainees. Please refer to the Local Laws and Special Circumstances of the U.S. Department of State's travel page for more information:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Tanzania.html

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Tanzania: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and health/crime statistics in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Medical considerations

Before you apply, please review medical clearance and legal clearance to learn about the process.

Couples information

Peace Corps Tanzania can accept couples who wish to serve together. To serve as a couple in Tanzania, your partner must qualify and apply for one of the following programs:

-Health Extension Volunteer
-Sustainable Agriculture Volunteer
-Secondary Education Math Teacher
-Secondary Education Science Teacher

Peace Corps Tanzania can accommodate couples teaching the same or different subjects. Couples will live together with a host family during Pre-Service Training but may be separated for short-term field-based activities if they are in different project sectors. During service, couples will live together in a village house. Due to Tanzania's cultural expectation that whenever couples live together, they are by default married, unmarried couples should be prepared to present themselves as married throughout their service.

The Peace Corps works to foster safe and productive assignments for same-sex couples and same-sex couples are not placed in countries where homosexual acts are criminalized. Because of this, same-sex couple placements are more limited than heterosexual couple placements. During the application process recruiters and placement officers work closely with same-sex couple applicants to understand current placement opportunities. For more information please visit: https://www.peacecorps.gov/faqs/lgbtq/.

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