Towards the end of our stay we visited a state school, located very near from the Arise Community School. It is the School Frank attended – oh and his teacher is still there teaching! Our aim was to wash the children’s hair in order to treat fungal infections, and also give them pencils and pens to use in their upcoming exams.
Initially, I thought the atmosphere was similar to that of Arise School’s.
As time passed by though I was proven wrong.
The headmaster of the school hit a boy before our eyes – a habit common in Tanzanian state schools.
The teachers did not seem to have the altruism the Arise teachers have.
And the children, on a very superficial and general level, were very different as well. I was quite heartbroken about the fact that they kept bullying each other and even mocking us – people who were there for their benefit. Particularly, there was a specific gang of boys who would bully any other boy who wanted his head washed and who also mocked the way I spoke Swahili to them, in a nasty way.
I was not angry at them.
I was angry at the situation of their school. A school ran by a physically abusive headmaster, who only put on his friendly mask for us, the outsiders, and some teachers who couldn’t care less about either the children’s progress or manners.
Despite my disappointment, however, I am glad I visited this school as well since it gave me the chance to wake up from the whole Arise Family dream and have a more objective view of what the educational sector of Tanzania really entails.
As much as I wanted it to be, the Arise Family was not representative of the wider situation; it was, and is, instead an extraordinary phenomenon there.