Education the Mainsprings Way

February 7, 2018 8:45 pm Published by

There are many things about Mainsprings that are different from other organizations around the world. For one, the diversity and holistic nature of our programs are extensive. After all, who would be crazy enough to run a school, clinic, girls’ home, permaculture and lodge all at the same time (and think about replicating it all). But, when you dive into each of these individual programs, there are several things that set us apart as well. Over these next couple of months, we are going to offer a series of blogs to help highlight some of these differences in our various ‘pillars’. And today, we are going to uncover just a few things that make our educational programs here at Mainsprings so unique…

1. We hire local teachers! While this is a common thing to do in the West, many international organizations struggle with this. On one hand, the traditional teaching methodologies across East Africa can have their limitations, but bringing in international teachers pretty much means they will only be around for a little while. At Mainsprings, we
hire only East African teachers. We often partner with other international institutions and schools to increase their understanding of a diverse array of teaching methodologies and how to improve the traditional teaching practices often used in Tanzania, but we want staff who can be around for the long-run. Because of that, a school culture is built and we are comfortable spending the time and resources to make this staff better and better each year. And, it works! If you compare our classrooms to others in the area, you can often find our students working in small groups, learning outside, and playing to learn- not simply looking at a board in the front of a classroom.

2. We use extracurricular programs! Again, this is a common thing in pretty much any school here in the US and Western countries, but so often in Tanzania, schools are simply focused on passing the national exams (for good reason: if they don’t pass- they can’t continue their education). But, we feel it important to let children of all ages explore things other than the core academic subjects and find their passion in life. After all, ifyou don’t have a passion and don’t know what you want to do with your life- what do the academic subjects mean in the end? We have clubs to let our students discover various sports, permaculture, music, drama, and art to just name a few.

3. Technology! When people first visit our flagship campus in Kitongo, many times they are shocked at how remote we are (our mission is to alleviate rural extreme poverty after all). Being so remote and not very close to grid electricity, it could be assumed that there is not a lot of power on our campus. But, thanks to very generous donations over the years, our entire campus (including our water pump) is powered by solar electricity- and it’s enough to run our technology lab. We feel it important for our students (currently 5th grade and up) to learn how to use technology. We are living in a globalized world and if we are going to properly prepare our students for a competitive, global market, they must know how to use technology.

4. Hands on learning! From the fun art activities and learning to write letters in the sand in the lower grades, to the hands on science experiments held in our science lab for the upper grades, we want students to experience what they are learning- not just see it on a board at the front of a classroom (notice a trend?). While this is not a common practice in many schools in Tanzania, our amazing teaching staff have taken our staff development to heart and make learning fun for so many of our students on a daily basis!

5. The whole student! Similar to the way we approach extracurricular programs and other things unique about our school, we believe that just teaching the core academic subjects to our students isn’t enough. It simply won’t prepare them for life after school. It won’t help them know how to be good citizens who contribute to society. It won’t help them to know when to stand up for themselves. That is why we have the Office of Student Development (OSD), led by the amazing Mr. Samo, devoted to helping developing “the whole student”. From running the extracurricular programs, to implementing our adolescent sexual and reproductive health programs, to conducting our community service programs, and to tutoring struggling students- our entire OSD team is devoted to making sure that all of our students are compassionate, well-rounded citizens, able to make a difference in their own society.

While we could go on and on about other things that are unique with our educational programs, these are just a handful of the most important differences. Stay tuned for more blogs in the coming weeks about our other programs and even more ways Mainsprings stands a step ahead!

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This post was written by Mainsprings