June 11, 2013
On Thursday last week, we went to the Jaffrey Academy in Arusha to see a private school that is preK through form 4 (on the British system, form 1-4 is the four years of high school). Originally, it was a Shia Muslim school, but now this school serves any child that wants to come and the family can pay the tuition, but many at the school are either Tanzanians of Indian descent or Tanzanians who are descended from Middle Eastern immigrants (often Omanis) a long time ago. When we were sitting in one of the second grade classes at the beginning of the day I was trying to figure out what was different and then I realized that all the children, including the girls had hair, long hair frequently. In the village schools for hygiene reasons, all children (including girls) keep their head shaved until they are old enough to properly care for their hair and keep it braided and clean.
At this school, there is a dynamic teacher and head of the special needs unit who has been working tirelessly for years to build the unit and to fight for the inclusion of her students in the general education classroom. She has been very successful in included several students, but also working in her unit with evidence based practices such as picture communication symbols and pivotal response training.
She has been working with her students on various vocational and life skills such as gardening and bead making. Here are some of the fabulous bead works and a need bag that her students made. She gave some of this to me as a gift and some I purchased because I liked it so much.