|27 Sep 2023|
|United Republic of Tanzania|
|2023 Finalists Global Teacher Prize|
James’ journey towards becoming a teacher started in primary school. Knowing the importance of learning, he saw that many children do not get a quality education due to scarcity of teachers, poverty, early marriage, and the lack of priority sometimes given to education. James formed the wish to become a teacher to help young people achieve their dreams. During secondary school, he was inspired by teacher role models, and developed the determination to work hard so he could become a good teacher like them. As a result, James got his Bachelor of Arts degree in Education (Linguistics and Geography) at St Augustine University of Tanzania in 2013, after which he taught English language and Geography at Nyasho secondary school before moving to nearby Kiara secondary school in 2019 to teach the same subjects.
Kiara secondary school has 900 students in total, and James’ class is comprised of 55-60 students per stream (aged 13-16). Students and teachers encounter many different challenges, including overcrowded classrooms, lack of school necessities, and lack of sanitary pads for girls. In response, James started his own nonprofit organization, Pamoja Hub, through which he launched a campaign to provide sanitary pads to girls at Kiara secondary school and Nyasho secondary school. With Pamoja Hub, James has already transformed about 2300 young people against gender based violence and menstrual challenges through his major campaigns which he named 'ShuleKwanzaTz' (School First in Tanzania) and 'Safe Days, Safe Studies'. Currently implementing a project 'PamojaDigitalks' (talking about technology). Hence, these initiatives have reduced chronic truancy and brought impact. He also fundraised via the World Literacy Foundation to help 80 young people acquire school uniforms and books, as well as campaigning to stop the dangerous practices of early marriage and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the community.
Currently, James is the only teacher in his school that uses technology in the classroom, which he feels makes for an easier teaching process. He has also shared his digital skills with fellow teachers, since many experience technophobia. In the classroom, the results of James’ teaching have been impressive. Grade averages have gone up from C to B, and James’ work as a debate coordinator has helped his students improve their communication skills by 90 per cent. James has guided students to win national awards for their writing, and was nominated for the World Literacy Awards for “Contribution to Literacy by an Individual”. In recognition of his contributions, he was invited to attend the 2023 Forbes under 30 Africa Summit in Botswana, and he has also been nominated for the Humanitarian Of Africa Awards 2023 in the category 'Changemaker of the Year' SDG 4 (Quality Education). James was selected for the Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement programme in Spring 2022, which positioned him at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA. He’s also the UN SDGs global schools advocate. James volunteers as a regional coordinator at the Tanzania English Language Teachers' Association (TELTA) in Mara, and in just two years, he has reached and transformed over 500 English language teachers in five districts in the Mara region: Rorya rural, Bunda rural, Bunda urban, Musoma rural, and Musoma urban, where they exchanged skills on competence-based approaches, modern teaching methodologies and integrating technology in classrooms. The teachers applied the techniques to students in their various schools, which yielded significant results.
With the Global Teacher Prize funds, James would use a portion to attend conferences, workshops, and training programs to enhance his teaching skills and stay up-to-date with the latest teaching practices – as well as supporting other teachers in the Mara region by providing resources and mentorship for career development. He would also donate a portion of the funds to Kiara secondary school to develop the learning environment for students, buy books, repair the computer room, and improve facilities.