January 29, 2019

From “A” to Zanzibar: An Island Adapts to Quest Forward Learning

In 2018, Quest Forward Learning rooted itself in 8 schools across mainland Tanzania. This year, the influence of Quest Forward Learning will cross the Indian Ocean as 6 schools in Zanzibar, an island off the coast of Tanzania, will implement Quest Forward Learning programs.

Although Zanzibar is a 2-hour plane ride from the OEF TZ offices in Moshi, OEF TZ team members travel to the island regularly to support mentors and coordinators as they launch Quest Forward Learning. Additionally, members of the Zanzibar Institute of Education have attended both the Quest Forward Coordinator and Mentor Training Institutes in order to learn more about the program that aims to change teaching and learning in their country. Overall, coordinators in Zanzibar have said they are excited to launch their programs with the support of the OEF TZ team.

Mwazani Ali serves as the Quest Forward Coordinator for Al-Quwiyyi Islamic School in Fuoni, Zanzibar. She has taught geography and English literature at Al-Quwiyyi for a year, and took on the role of Quest Forward Coordinator after her school enthusiastically opted to implement the platform. She attended the Zanzibar Quest Forward Coordinator Institute last September and has diligently worked with her school’s mentors to prepare for the start of the school year in January 2019.

Being part of Tanzania, Zanzibar follows the same national syllabus and uses the same Quest Forward curriculum as the mainland schools.  Additionally, the small island boasts a unique and colorful architecture that highlights the many influences of its cultural heritage—a mix of Arabic, India, Africa, Persia and Europe. However, schools launching Quest Forward Learning in Zanzibar face challenges similar to schools in mainland Tanzania, such as securing a stable, reliable internet connection in facilities that have never been wired for it and adding electrical outlets to classrooms that have never had electricity. Additionally, Mwazani worried how mentors would adapt to using the Quest Forward methodology in their classrooms. When she first told mentors how students in Quest Forward classrooms would be up and out of their seats, working together, and focusing on projects instead of exams, mentors let Mwazani know that it wasn’t possible. However, after mentors attended the Quest Forward Mentor Institute, where they received four full days of training on the Quest Forward platform, methodology, and curriculum, they had a much deeper understanding of the program, and excitedly looked forward to their first day of school.

“Education has looked the same for years,” Mwazani says, noting how Tanzanian classrooms still have rows of desks facing a chalkboard with students quietly taking notes throughout the class period. She is excited to help change this norm. “With this program, we can prepare students to be good leaders, to be the ones solving problems within a class and outside of a class.”

2017 marked the first year that a school in mainland Tanzania used Quest Forward Learning. Now it hosts 14 schools across three regions. We hope that Al-Quwiyyi and the five other schools in Zanzibar mark the beginning of a similar growth, bringing active learning, leadership skills, the ability to solve problems, and Quest Forward Learning to students across the entire island.

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