Agnes Mm­baga

This teacher and men­tor is work­ing tire­lessly to fight poverty in Tan­za­nia by ed­u­cat­ing and em­pow­er­ing young women – and find­ing time to lead de­bate club

TES (Times Education Supplement) - - A DAY IN THE LIFE OF… -

Every day, I wake at 4.30am and start pray­ing for the new day, in which I hope to trans­form my stu­dents and help to erad­i­cate ig­no­rance and poverty. I wa­ter my veg­etable gar­den and then pre­pare a boiled break­fast (made of sweet pota­toes, plan­tains, yams, or cas­sava, de­pend­ing on the sea­son) for my­self and my fam­ily to take to work. I pre­pare this break­fast for my 20-yearold son, who is now at col­lege, and two other rel­a­tives who go to work early in the morn­ing in Dar es Salaam.

At 6am, I start the 2km pub­lic-bus jour­ney to Zinga Sec­ondary School in Bag­amoyo Dis­trict, Tan­za­nia. My school is in a ru­ral vil­lage, near a fa­mous his­tor­i­cal site that was once a trad­ing port for ivory and slaves. The ru­ins and an­tiq­ui­ties at­tract tourists and we also visit with stu­dents, so they can wit­ness the his­tory they have been taught.

I ar­rive at 7am. My school has nine blocks, with one in­com­plete ad­min­is­tra­tion block. I have been teach­ing in this school for nine years now. I love my work.

I teach English and Swahili, but I am also a Camfed (Cam­paign for Fe­male Ed­u­ca­tion) teacher men­tor. This means that my in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the school and com­mu­nity is wide, as I have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to make sure girls value their dig­nity and their ed­u­ca­tion.

Care in the com­mu­nity

My school has a sys­tem where each week, one mem­ber of staff is the “teacher on duty”. This means that they su­per­vise the school and en­sure that all the pro­grammes go well. Some morn­ings, in weeks when I am on duty, I will make home vis­its to a stu­dent who has missed classes for a week with­out giv­ing a rea­son.

A ward of­fi­cial, Camfed alumna or a mem­ber of the lo­cal par­ent sup­port group will ac­com­pany me in these vis­its. We make sure to go early to talk to the par­ent or guardian, but some­times there is no guardian. One girl I vis­ited lived only with her younger sis­ter and did not have enough food to make the long jour­ney to school every day. I alerted Camfed and we found her a place in a hos­tel at an­other school. Then I found her un­cle, who could take in her sis­ter.

By 8am, I have to be back at school to teach. When I am teach­ing, I like to take my stu­dents out­side to sit un­der a big mango tree. Here they can feel freer and the les­son is more in­ter­ac­tive. If a stu­dent needs more at­ten­tion and has a pri­vate prob­lem, I pro­vide a room for them so we can find a so­lu­tion. Some­times I re­fer them to a nurse.

At 11 am I join the other teach­ers for some­thing to eat. Then, in the af­ter­noon I lead ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing sports and our de­bate club.

The school timetable ends at 3pm. Many af­ter­noons, I will visit the par­ent sup­port group in the vil­lage be­fore I go home. These par­ents vol­un­teer their time to sup­port vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren at school, in­clud­ing with school meals or main­tain­ing the build­ings.

When I get home I clean the house while my fam­ily pre­pares din­ner. Af­ter din­ner, I make my les­son plans for the next day, un­less it is a Satur­day. Satur­days are im­por­tant days for me be­cause they give me a chance to work on run­ning my small busi­ness, which sup­plies ba­jaji [a type of rick­shaw] rides to peo­ple who need to make a jour­ney. My busi­ness also de­liv­ers soap. I love teach­ing, but it is not easy to de­pend on a teacher’s salary alone.

Agnes Mm­baga is an English and Swahili teacher at Zinga Sec­ondary School in Tan­za­nia and a Camfed teacher men­tor

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