Saturday, 13 August 2011

About JTTI and its Amazing Founders & Students

With some of my 2nd Year Students
It is amazing how much we take for granted our easy access to more or less free education in the Caribbean and North America.  Unlike here, where it is more of a privilege and a function of family priorities (boys favoured over girls), economics (most families are living hand to mouth and thus kids are taken out of school to work and support the families) and the ability to access the very limited amount of places for secondary and post secondary education.  Recognizing this fact, and also that many of the jobs in the tourism sector in Jambiani, Zanzibar were not taken up by locals but from persons from the mainland and elsewhere, Patricia Elias (Victoria, British Columbia native via Sri Lanka, England and elsewhere) and her husband Alastair set up the Jambiani Tourism Training Institute (JTTI).  This was sponsored by their NGO Hands Across Borders Society (HABS) and you can read all about their amazing story and financial and personal sacrifices to have the school  and a wellness clinic established on the HABS website. Students do not pay any fees to gain entrance but must show a commitment to learning. It provides free training to 350-500 students per year, 25 of which are enrolled in 2 year Tourism and Hospitality Diploma programme, and includes a wide range of courses, such as food & beverage service and production, food safety, HIV/AIDS, housekeeping, local tour guide, business & management as well as specific skill development in English, Maths, Keyboarding and IT. HABS operates by attracting volunteer teachers like myself, as well as donations from the public and also small grants from agencies such as the World Bank and CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency).  CIDA recently posted a short video on the school with an interview with Pat which you can view at CIDA Video on JTTI . It is such a pleasure teaching students who have this huge appetite for knowledge and learning.  And who, despite having to fast all day for Ramadan, cycle one hour to school, work the night shift before class the next day, or have to live in a room that goats are herded in, all show up more or less on time every day for class, neatly dressed and  cheerful.  When I do not give them Math homework after class- they plead for it - that alone makes it all worthwhile.    

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