A FORMER Headlands stalwart returned to the school last week to give current students a talk about his travels.
Former assistant headteacher Mike James delivered assemblies about his travels in Tanzania working for Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) at six secondary ‘pilot’ schools in Zanzibar.
His work included trying to help improve working practices - a difficult task as Mr James humorously compared the hippos of the Serengeti lazing around in the mid-afternoon sun to the amount of useful activity at the Zanzibari Ministry of Education.
Students were fascinated by a host of amusing stories, photographs and tales which highlight the glaring differences that pupils face going to school in Tanzania rather than the UK.
Mr James explained that students in Tanzania can be lucky if a teacher (paid, on average £200 a month) turns up, and if the room has any desks, with students often forced to sit on rice sacks or just the floor. Computers are not a feature of life in his six schools and their facilities are very sparse.
Mr James also visited the jungle and displayed pictures of hyenas, elephants, rhinos and a host of other exotic jungle life, and told stories of tortoises attacking his green croc shoes, thinking they were lettuce leaves, and elephants charging his minibus.
As Zanzibar is a spice island, Mr James also quizzed students on spices - with the winners adorned in a crown of coconut leaves.
The Headlands Community Group have been raising money to fund science equipment at one of the schools (Fuoni) and they have also developed some pen pal relationships with students in Tanzania.
The group hopes to raise even more than the £150 pounds already achieved since September and a host of fundraising events are planned for the year ahead.
Mr James will take the cheque to the school’s headmaster when he returns for six months in January.
He said: “I’m really grateful for what the Community Group is doing for Fuoni. It’s a decent school but could do even better with improved science facilities.
“Unfortunately the Ministry of Education is underfunded and leaves it to the schools to make these improvements by asking for donations from parents and businesses, but this is largely a poor subsistence farming community.
“This help from Headlands School will be very much appreciated.”
Ian Wormald, assistant headteacher at Headlands, said: “The assemblies have been a really positive experience for students; they could hardly believe the differences in education systems and just how lucky they are to have quality teaching and facilities at Headlands.
“The Community Group hopes to raise hundreds of pounds to enable the students at Fuoni School to have much better facilities.
“We really thank Mike for giving up four afternoons to talk about his exploits and judging from the applause each day the students appreciated it.”