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 work alongside teachers and other volunteers 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 because the class can be divided into smaller groups to work on more relevant topics. Once comfortable with their allocated class, volunteers may feel ready to start helping with lesson delivery and then progress to independently delivering lessons. 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 assistance 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 with English and maths. 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 3:00pm, 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 the worst cases, there can be up to 175 children in one lesson, with only two teachers, and the children must learning 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 one of our partner schools to help us deliver 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 construction of new classrooms, kitchens and security walls. 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.
- 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.
What to Expect
Zanzibar is a predominately Muslim island and Islam is heavily embedded within school life. There is a traditional uniform that all students are required to wear. Boys and girls sit separately within the classroom and if any groups need to be formed when delivering lessons, boys and girls will automatically ‘buddy up’ with same-sex friends. It is not uncommon to see teachers use the cane in Zanzibar. This can seem very strange to people from the West and we would advise volunteers to talk this through with their trip host at the end of the school day should they find it destressing.
Swahili is Zanzibar’s first language. Some lessons will be taught in English and most of the teachers will speak English, so there is not a huge language barrier. The students often want to practise their English speaking with volunteers. Please do not underestimate the impact this can have on a young person trying to learn a new language, as it can be very valuable. The students will enjoy trying to teach volunteers some Swahili too! For many students at the schools, this engagement will be their first interaction with people from the West, meaning some may feel nervous. We encourage volunteers to give it time, keep smiling and, gradually, we are confident that a brilliant rapport will be built up.
Outside of project hours, volunteers can relax and explore the local area with their peers. Zanzibar is an incredible island with lots to see and do and our friendly in-country team are on hand with the best recommendations! We really recommend that volunteers make the most of being on this beautiful, vibrant island.
Discover and Explore
Taste of Zanzibar Weekend +£150
Discover the hustle and bustle of historic Stone Town, which remains true to its old Arabian heritage as a busy market town. Volunteers will visit the House of Wonders, the old slave fort, the world famous fish market and the birth place of Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury.
Zanzibar is renowned for its exotic spices and exports them all over the world. Volunteers can see, taste and smell them all during the famous spice tour. The weekend ends at the beautiful Mbuyuni beach resort where volunteers can immerse themselves in a beautiful coastal paradise.View the brochure
Ocean Safari Day +£100
The Ocean Safari is an amazing chance to get up close and personal with Zanzibar’s famous marine life. Volunteers can swim amongst the beautiful reefs of Fumba Peninsula in search of tropical fish and feel the sand between their toes on white sandy beaches. There is also the incredible opportunity of watching majestic humpback and bottlenose dolphins at Menai bay.
An all-you-can-eat seafood feast on Kwale Island is a real treat. Volunteers can sample freshly grilled lobster, tuna, king fish and a variety of exotic fruits. This special day really does give volunteers a taste of island living in all its glory.View the brochure
Still want to know more? Get in touch…
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