DEAN in collaboration with FT Kilimanjaro, an NGO based in Moshi, Tanzania, has since 2016 conducted digital training programs for teachers in Tanzania. DEAN gives the training which takes 5 days and the teachers in attendance follow the program in which they learn how to integrate ICT in education by use of tablets in classrooms and attain knowledge of 21st Century Skills.
The first training of this year successfully took place in March. The second training was scheduled in October at a time when the whole world is fighting Covid-19 (coronavirus). Each country has its own measures and restrictions regarding the virus. For example, some countries have their borders closed and only open to essential activities like trade. Recently, the temporary travel ban in Kenya was lifted making it possible to travel in and out of the country. However, there are strict entry and exit requirements. One of them is that travellers must undergo a coronavirus test.
This was the first time for me to get tested. I had seen the process on TV but I had no clue of how it felt. I found the test very uncomfortable. 24 hours later as I picked my results, which were luckily negative, the doctor in his own words said, ‘’ This certificate does not mean that you will not get the virus and being negative does not mean that you cannot be positive!’’ With my certificate, I was now ready to begin my journey to Tanzania.
My preferred mode of transportation to Tanzania is via buses from a company called Impala. Due to the pandemic, the fare is slightly higher than before because the new transport measures include that bus companies carry fewer passengers in order to observe social distancing. The journey started out smoothly until we reached the border of Kenya and Tanzania. At the Kenyan immigration office, I was cleared quickly but on the Tanzanian side it turned out to be difficult. As I presented the usual documents plus the Covid-19 certificate, the lady serving me angrily told me that there is no coronavirus in Tanzania and therefore my certificate was not needed. This was after John Magufuli, the president of Tanzania, announced that Tanzania was a corona free country. She purposely kept me waiting as she continued to serve the other passengers but finally put a stamp on my passport.
At the border, a Tanzanian man told me that I would be discriminated in his country if I wore a face mask and everybody would know that I am from Kenya. Regardless of his statement, I still wore my mask because prevention is better than cure.
My final destination was Moshi via Arusha. I observed that like in Kenya, there were no coronavirus posters but those of politicians vying for the upcoming elections. True to the words from the man at the border, when we arrived in Arusha with our face masks on, we were treated differently. In the bus to Moshi from Arusha foreigners on board had to pay extra bus fare just because they were not Tanzanian citizens.
After a long journey, I finally reached Moshi and looked forward to seeing my students; teachers who were participating in the training program, the next day.
In Kenya, trainers are expected to maintain social distance and it is mandatory for students to wear face masks. It was challenging to convince the teachers to wear masks as they all believe that there is no coronavirus in Tanzania. It is even more difficult to buy masks in the country since they are not readily available in shops. We agreed that for my own safety, they should keep the social distance and wash their hands regularly. The teachers who had participated in the first digital training in March assured me that they had used the digital and 21st Century Skills they acquired in earlier training sessions from DEAN. Their students were enthusiastic about learning using tablets, and the use of tablets has increased attendance rates in their schools.
Our five days’ training program was successful. The teachers advanced their digital skills and promised to transfer their newly acquired skills to their students.
After the training, happy and satisfied that I had achieved my objectives, I embarked on my journey back home. At the border, the Kenyan health department ensures that all arrivals sign a 14 days’ self-quarantine form. After hours of travelling, I was happy to be back home with my family. Most of all I was glad I did not contract coronavirus in the “corona free” Tanzania.