Radley & Gehandu: Our innovative School Partnership
Radley has embarked on a venture that is a radical reworking of what many UK schools do in having links and regular trips to developing countries. Instead of sending Radleians on building projects, we are focusing on supporting pupils’ learning in an East African school.
We have now visited them each summer since 2012. Our inaugural trip to Tanzania in July 2012 established our partnership with Gehandu Secondary School in Mbulu and gave 18 Sixth Form Radleians a rare opportunity to experience African life as student teachers in a massively under-resourced rural school. Apart from their hard-working and welcoming teaching staff, with no electricity or water and scarcely any textbooks or facilities, Gehandu is about as different from Radley College as it is possible to imagine. Whilst there, we hoped to help Gehandu pupils seize the opportunity to improve their life chances through education and challenge ourselves at the same time.
But first there was fundraising to organise, lessons to plan and the small matter of climbing up the highest free-standing mountain in the world, Mt Kilimanjaro (5895m above sea level), in our first week in Africa! Whilst not an especially technical climb, such extreme altitudes would push the body well beyond its comfort zone during our seven day trek.
Pick of the summer term fundraisers was the JCR Pub Quiz. Together with private fundraising efforts by the participants and an inter-Social soccer tournament and Photo Exhibition at Radley, over £5000 was raised. This enabled Gehandu to build a water pump to provide the school with running water. As a result their students no longer had to carry buckets of water up the hill before lessons!
Before leaving for Tanzania, our boys are trained in cultural awareness and safety issues by Inspire Worldwide, who take charge of the logistical arrangements in Africa and in TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language).
The long term vision of the Gehandu-Radley partnership is to broaden the outlook of as many Radleians as we can and deliver maximum sustainable benefit to the community in Africa.
The first of these should happen automatically, but it takes sensitive handling to ensure that each Radleian does not return with a more entrenched prejudice about ‘us and them’ or with oversimplistic notions about why Africans are materially poorer. We hope that the experience of socialising and working with their Tanzanian counterparts, particularly with their designated pen-pals, will encourage Radleians to re-evaluate their own values and encourage a more questioning approach to poverty and development in the world.
Achieving sustainable benefits for our African partners is a far harder challenge! Each time we visit we help Gehandu pupils in three ways. Firstly, we donate (ex-Radley) textbooks so that Gehandu pupils could use them in class and at home (currently the only textbook would typically belong to the teacher). Secondly, Radleians showcase a range of more varied teaching styles (e.g. working in groups, role play and project work). We hope this helps learning where there are up to 90 pupils in a classroom listening to a lesson in their third language (behind Kiswahili and their tribal language). Impressed by the 57 lessons taught by Radleians, Leokadia Maydi, Gehandu’s wise and delightful Headmistress, is keen to embed this shift in teaching style across the school this year! Finally, we have been trialing a project for Gehandu students to learn English via a mobile phone language learning software app that Laura Hakimi (nee Pearson) pioneered for possible use for the East African market. Our 2013 pilot was an enormous success and MRJ has been looking for partners in the telecom and publishing industries to develop it on a larger scale to transform English language skills for millions of young people in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Please contact MRJ if you may be able to help!
Gehandu's wonderful Headmistress, Leokadia Maydi, and their Head of English visited Radley in May 2014 as part of our deepening School Partnership.
Overall, there is much exciting momentum for Radleians to build on in future visits. I would urge all boys to consider joining the 6.1 trip to Gehandu when their time comes.
Photographed are visiting teachers James Sanga (left) and Daniel Muslur from Gehandu, Radley's partner school in rural Tanzania, accompanied by Mark Jewell, outside F Social in May 2017.
Mark wears a traditional Iraqw kanga, whilst James and Daniel sport their Radley rugby shirts.
6.1 boys visit Tanzania each July, teaching at Gehandu as part of a challenging and thriving community partnership trip that has been running since 2012.