Guest Post: The Volunteer Projects

by admin on 22/03/2012

The Volunteer Projects (TVP) is a registered Irish charity, international Development NGO and volunteer-sending organisation that believes in ‘Development through Volunteerism’. We recruit and train volunteers for overseas work placements in Tanzania and Cambodia in a number of partner Projects. We also fund, manage and implement local development and human rights initiatives within these partner projects and help volunteers and donors who wish to contribute to these projects using their time, skills and/or money.

Our most popular Projects are always the Orphanages and Nursery Schools, where our volunteers teach the children and help out in many different ways. For the last 3 years, our volunteers have been doing a fantastic job and have taught hundreds of children in the disadvantaged areas of Moshi. While we are continuing to supply volunteers to these projects, we are now refining our role and beginning a new phase with our Teach the Teacher Programme. Through this programme we aim to increase the skill sets of the teachers at the projects, which will ultimately have a greater long-term impact on the students themselves.

Teaching in Tanzania is an underpaid and undervalued profession. Though teachers in Tanzania are dedicated and enthusiastic, they work with large classes and few resources. In some cases, teachers have not received training as extensive as that of their Irish counterparts, while some other teachers at the Projects are volunteers, who have not yet fully completed their teacher training. This programme aims to increase the skill sets of Tanzanian teachers through skills exchange with Irish teachers while giving volunteers practical experience of teaching in a developing country. Also, as the Programme is in its pilot stage, volunteers have the opportunity not only to teach their contemporaries but also to shape the programme itself.

In our experience teaching methods in Tanzania are largely based on rote learning and are aimed predominantly at passing exams. This has led to a situation where, though the children can reel off lots of information, they have little understanding of what they are actually saying, particularly in relation to learning English. As most secondary school classes are taught through English, this causes problems later in the education system, especially for those who are not gifted at languages. Improving the methodologies of learning at Nursery level can lay the foundation for increased learning potential in later life and thus improve the employability of these students and help them escape the poverty trap in which they are now ensnared.

The volunteers teach Basic English and Maths to students aged 4-7 in the morning, allowing them to better understand the challenges faced by the local teachers. In the afternoon, volunteers teach two classes to the teachers. The first is a 40 minute English Improvers class aimed at increasing the level of English for the teachers themselves. The second will be a skills sharing class, where the volunteers can help the teachers upskill by sharing their own teaching techniques i.e. how to utilise the resources they have for optimal learning, innovative ways to increase student understanding and other teaching methodologies.

This programme offers a unique opportunity for Irish teachers to do something extraordinary over their summer break; however the Programme is available all year round. By utilising their training, teachers can improve services to local communities in one of the poorest places on earth. Placements can run for anything from 2 weeks to 6 months. Included in the placement fee are comprehensive Pre-departure Training, Fundraising Guide and Pack, 24 Hour In-country Support, Accommodation, Food (Breakfast and Dinner) and much more.

(Photos show Michelle Ní Bhraonáin and Laura Mc Gahan, two Irish Primary School Teachers, working in Voice of Victory Nursery School, Moshi, Tanzania during Summer 2011. Permission has been granted to reproduce the photos.)

Ciara Byrne works as Marketing and Development Manager for The Volunteer Projects. For more information about the organisation or about enquiries about volunteering, you can look at the website: or email


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