Zanzibar is world famous among travellers and tourists for its white sandy beaches and historic Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Known as the ‘Spice Island’, Zanzibar is alive with incredible smells and sounds to enrich the senses. However, behind the tourism and the picture-perfect scenery lies a different story. Life can be very difficult and a large percentage of the population are surviving on less than 75p per day. We show you the realities of life for many people on this beautiful island.
Teaching and multi-sports
African Adventures works with two large, overcrowded schools on the outskirts of Zanzibar Island’s Stone Town that educate a combined total of 10,000 children between the ages of 6-18. The schools are so overpopulated that they are required to split the school day in two, running classes for half the students in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. Because of this, many students are missing out on the full education they deserve. We are working with the schools to improve and increase their facilities to address this issue.
Students learn by rote (rote learning is a memorisation technique based on repetition) and, therefore, do not always have underpinning knowledge. This means that lesson delivery is often less interactive than in the UK. Teachers will be either fully or partly qualified. A syllabus is followed using a text book and lessons are delivered accordingly. It is not uncommon for teachers to answer their phone during lessons, or leave their class unattended to focus on something else that requires their attention.
Sport is hugely popular in Zanzibar and all students are encouraged to participate in sessions. Despite the enthusiasm for it, access to opportunity when it comes to sport is severely limited, so sports volunteers will be welcomed with open arms at our partner projects. Football is Zanzibar’s first sport but our multi-sports coaching programme gives volunteers the flexibility to coach a variety of sports and deliver sessions for those sports that they are most comfortable with. The students love to be introduced to new sports so volunteers should not be afraid to try something different for their sporting sessions.
Teaching assistant volunteers are required to help manage the demands of educating large classes of mixed students. There are typically large class sizes in Zanzibar, which can be extremely challenging because of the difference in academic ability across the student body. High-achieving students can be held back and struggling students can often get left behind; teaching assistants can help bridge that gap. Some volunteers may feel confident and ready to help with lesson delivery, or even to independently deliver lessons, which is a great help to the schools, and a great learning experience for those taking on the challenge. To support volunteers with preparing for this role, we have a Volunteer Resource Portal which is full of syllabus information, lesson planning tips and interactive session ideas. Our aim is to provide volunteers with the guidance and reassurance they need to effectively carry out the teaching assistant role.
For those who opt to help with sports coaching, qualifications are advantageous but certainly not essential – volunteers should not worry that the schools will be expecting professionals to turn up! Additionally, we have a fantastic set of coaching resources and tips in our Volunteer Resource Portal for volunteers to read through before they travel to help prepare them for the role. Although there will be plenty of space for sports classes, there will be very limited resources so we strongly encourage that volunteers bring their own if they have specific sessions planned. Multi-sports coaches work alongside an English-speaking teacher to deliver games and sessions. It is uncommon for teachers at the projects we work with to specialise in sports coaching so additional support and ideas are gratefully received. Typically, volunteers may support with two hour-long sessions at 9:00am. Lessons inside the classroom then take place, which sports volunteers are invited to participate in.
Your volunteering day
- Volunteers wake up and meet for breakfast at around 7:30am before being taken to their allocated project around 8:30am to start the day’s volunteering. (We encourage volunteers to take plenty of water with them as it is very hot and humid.)
- A typical morning session will involve assisting in the classroom/delivering lessons independently, depending on comfort levels. This will include the use of text books, writing out activities on the chalkboard and engaging students in interactive learning through singing and different activities.
- At around 10:30am, it is likely that classes will stop for morning break where there will be time for the children to have a snack and play games.
- Break is followed by another lesson until around 12:30pm when lunchtime starts. Volunteers also break for lunch at this time and are served a delicious, hot meal that is brought to the project by the Zanzibar team.
- After lunch, volunteers are invited to take the learning outside the classroom and get the children participating in a PE lesson. Activities may include bean bag racing, co-ordination exercises and counting games. These activities will depend on the resources available so we recommend that volunteers bring some sports equipment if they have specific sessions planned.
- Afternoon activities finish at around 4 or 5:00pm, at which point volunteers are picked up and taken back to the accommodation to relax after a hard day’s work.
- There may be the chance to visit the market or explore Stone Town during the afternoon.
- Dinner is served at the accommodation around 7:00pm, following which volunteers can relax with a book, play some games or reflect on the day’s volunteering with other travellers. Volunteers may also like to practise their Swahili!
Building and renovation
The schools that African Adventures works with are government-run but do not receive much funding to help them develop and improve their facilities. They are incredibly overcrowded and desperately need new classrooms to help them manage student numbers within classrooms. Our building programme focuses on developing the schools’ facilities so that the children attending can enjoy a better education through improved learning environments.
Why we need your support
Whilst the schools we work with are government-run schools, they are severely underfunded. The buildings are old and tired, there are rarely enough desks for the number of students, and there is a significant lack of learning materials. The schools are heavily overcrowded and are struggling to accommodate the number of students that attend.
In fact, the schools are so overrun that they must have two sittings, one in the morning and another in the afternoon, which would be unheard of in the UK! In worst cases, there can be up to 175 children in one lesson, with only two teachers, and the children must learn sitting on the classroom floor; clearly not a conducive learning environment. Volunteers are desperately needed to help improve the quality of education delivered, through the creation of an enhanced learning environment.
Construction and renovation assistance
Building volunteers help at our partner projects to assist us in delivering our goals, which focus on working towards a point where the schools can provide a full day’s education to their students every day. Building and renovation work typically ranges from painting and decorating to assisting with the moulding of bricks, which are used to construct new school facilities. All the work that we organise is requested by the schools, so our building programme only ever meets an existing need.
Volunteers do not need any form of previous experience as all work is led by a local builder, who will lead volunteers in how to carry out the work. Any specialist building work is reserved for those with qualifications, so volunteers need not worry about being out of their depth. Volunteers need only be fit and healthy enough to carry out typical activities such as painting, cement-mixing, plastering and carrying moderately heavy items.
Funding is provided by African Adventures and African Adventures Foundation, and the building work will be organised and communicated prior to departure.
Your volunteering day
- Volunteers will wake up and meet for breakfast at around 7:30am before being taken to their allocated project at around 8:30am to start their day’s volunteering. (It can be very hot in Zanzibar, so it is important that volunteers keep well-hydrated and work at a steady pace.)
- Depending on the allocated construction work, a typical morning session might include cementing bricks for a new classroom, painting existing classrooms, or screeding classroom walls and floors. It is important to note that there is not always the required funding or equipment for construction work to take place; in these instances, we appreciate volunteers’ understanding and flexibility to get involved with other essential tasks such as helping with teaching.
- At around 10:30am, volunteers can stop for morning break with the children, when they take time to have a snack and play games.
- After 30 minutes, lessons will recommence and volunteers will continue their building work for another hour or so.
- At around 12:30pm, volunteers are brought a cooked meal at the project by our team; well-deserved after the morning’s work.
- In the afternoon, volunteers continue with their building and renovation activities until the time the school closes at around 3:00pm, at which point they will be picked up and taken back to the accommodation for some downtime.
- During the afternoon, some volunteers may like to visit the craft market or explore Stone Town.
- Dinner is served around 7:00pm, after which volunteers can either spend some time with their peers or just relax with a book and reflect on their volunteering experience.
Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous island off the east coast of Tanzania. It is world-famous for its white sand beaches and palm-fringed waters, as well as for being the birth place of Freddie Mercury! Stone Town, where our projects are located, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and has a population of around 16,000. The weather in Zanzibar can be very warm and humid, with average daytime temperatures between 24 and 28 degrees Celsius. During the rainy seasons in November and April, there may be short bursts of refreshing rainfall.
Zanzibar’s diversity can be attributed to its history as a trading centre, giving rise to the nickname of ‘Spice Island’ and resulting in a myriad of influences on its culture. Zanzibar is predominantly Muslim, with 99% of the population practicing Islam. Attitudes are generally conservative, with an emphasis on traditional values. Great respect is paid to elders, and public displays of affection are rare. The pace of African life is more relaxed than in Western culture, so take the opportunity to slow down and enjoy!
Zanzibar’s official languages are Swahili and English, which has remained in use even after Zanzibar gained independence in 1963. Various ethnic groups also use a number of different dialects. A couple of words you might commonly hear are “jambo!” meaning “hello!” and “karibu!” which means “you’re welcome!” The children at our projects will be keen to practice their English with you, and equally as keen to teach you some Swahili!
As an island, Zanzibar has plenty of delicious, fresh seafood which is readily available in Stone Town’s bustling markets. Zanzibar’s cuisine is heavily influenced by its varied history, with a rich mixture of flavours typically used in cooking. There is also plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and spices which are eaten alongside typically East African foods such as potatoes, rice and ugali. Alcohol is available in many hotels and bars, but many Zanzibaris do not drink for religious reasons. The legal drinking age in Zanzibar is 18, however being drunk is considered shameful and we ask volunteers to be respectful of this.
Zanzibar’s government-run schools are severely underfunded and are struggling to cope with a growing population of young people. It is not unusual for classes to contain upwards of 100 children with just 2 teachers. Some schools have two sittings, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, literally cutting access to education in half. As a volunteer, you can help by lending teaching support and improving the school environment through renovation.
Discover and Explore
Taste of Zanzibar
£150 – 2 days / 1 night
Includes: Walking tour of Stone Town, tour of a spice farm, all transport, overnight stay at a beach resort, breakfasts and an evening meal.
£100 – 1 day
Includes: Full tour and crew, life-jacket, snorkel and flippers, buffet lunch and snacks, drinks.
Still want to know more? Get in touch…
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