U.S., Tanzania Partner for School Upgrades
According to Dictionary.com, education is the process of acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, generally preparing oneself or others intellectually for life. This education process is built from the ground up and that is just what U.S. Africa Command, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa and the Tanzania Ministry of Education are providing to the people of Tanzania.
Tanzania Country Engineer U.S. Navy Lt. Timothy Palik, from CJTF-HOA, oversees the construction and renovations contracts of three primary and secondary schools throughout Tanzania, which will provide 15 new classrooms ultimately affecting more than 3,000 students.
The contracts include renovations to Matale Primary School, Vitongoji Primary and Secondary school on Pemba Island, and Boma Primary School in Tanga.
“We hire in-country contractors to design and construct a facility based off of our specifications. NAVFAC will then award that project to the contractor and then I will oversee the execution of the construction,” said Palik. “We do our due diligence with ensuring that the specifications are sound and we do the best we can to come down here as regularly as we can, to oversee the execution that will ultimately produce the schools that we will begin to see in the next few months.”
While the construction is underway, students and faculty gather to see the progress of the schools and what new things are to come for their communities.
According to John Simon, Boma Primary School headmaster, these renovations and new additions will provide the opportunities for smaller classes and more one-on-one time with each student, ultimately providing a better education.
“We are very thankful because we get a new classroom and other renovations that help us here, because the one classroom we have doesn’t hold many kids. So the additional classroom will lessen the number of students in the classroom,” said Simon. “It is going to feel very good because I can do a very good job, very easy.”
The other two schools that are being built are the Matale Primary School which will receive four more classrooms that are being constructed from the columns up, to increase their student capacity.
Then Vitongoji Primary and Secondary School serves approximately 2,000 children, but with only 19 classrooms students must be taught in a morning and an afternoon shift. There are several hundred children in the local area who are not able to attend school at all due to overcrowding. This project will increase classroom capacity by 6 more classrooms in an area where need is completely overwhelming the available facilities.
Overall, the construction projects at all three schools are at three different stages of progress, but all have a common final goal of providing the people and children of Tanzania a better education.
According to Palik, community development begins with education; from day one when a child sets foot in a school it is important to have a good facility to provide that education and this will speak volumes to them later on in life.
“Every time I come here, the folks are so appreciative, and likewise I appreciate them. They understand that these things take a while but once we finally break that ground, see the concrete being poured, the columns going up, we see new windows, new doors, new floors, new blackboards, it is just smiles ear to ear,” Palik said. “It’s only going to make the children in the villages that much more productive when they grow up.”