St Agnes Vocational Training College, as the Mtandika Trade School is now registered with the Government’s Vocational and Educational Training Authority [VETA], continued to develop during 2000/2021 under the management of Principal, Sister Damiana Kikoti, Vice Principal Shabani Bilaly and Bursar, Sister Restituta Msemwa.
Apart from one change, Peter Madeba replacing Okea Mheni as teacher of English and Communications, Technical Drawing and Life Skills, the lay teachers remain as before, with Shabani Bilaly as Vice Principal and teacher of Electrical Engineering and Engineering Science, Yohana Mtagawa as teacher of Computer Studies and Mathematics and Sylvia Mfalamagoha as teacher of Tailoring, Business Studies and Entrepreneurship.
A VETA team from their Dar es Salaam Head Office carried out an inspection of the College in February 2021. Their report was generally very complimentary. The amount of classrooms and dormitories were more than adequate but they asked that a new toilet block be constructed for day students and that the outside of the buildings be repainted. The painting was done by the students soon after the visit. VETA requested more tools and materials be purchased for the electrical course and sewing machines for the tailoring course. In addition some of the computers needed upgrading. They checked the teacher’s qualifications and contracts and were satisfied with these and were complimentary of the teaching standards and the results being attained by the students.
Following the first cases of Covid 19 in Tanzania in March 2020, the late President Magafule closed all schools, colleges and universities for a few weeks. However generally the Mtandika area of Tanzania seems to have been comparatively unaffected and the College has been open for the majority of the year.
This year has continued to be a period of consolidation for the college. The tailoring and electrical courses are now well established, with 35 students in total spread over two years. There continue to be several female students on the electrical course.
Feedback from past students shows that they have all ended up with very good, well paid jobs. Many of the electrical students end up working for Tanesco, the state power company equivalent to UK’s National Grid.
As reported in previous years, the College continues to be fairly self-sufficient in terms of growing their own maize, cassava, rice, beans, onions, tomatoes, bananas and papayas. This year has been particularly good for maize and bean production.
Whilst most of the College students pay annual tuition fees of TSh 700,000, about £280, we continue to sponsor 10 of the 35 College students who are orphans or from very poor families, through the generous, regular donations from our sponsors. These include 6 students sponsored by TWOAT, the Tadworth and Walton Overseas Aid Trust. In addition to the older College students, half a dozen young orphans live at the College and are sponsored to go to the village Primary and Secondary Schools.
As well as paying for some of the running costs at the College, including £2000 from TWOAT to supplement the teachers’ salaries, our sponsors continue to support the education of six students boarding at secondary schools away from Mtandika, as well as six students studying for Degrees or Diplomas at universities or colleges. All of these are either orphans or from very poor families The university students include the five mentioned last year, who will graduate at the end of 2021, plus a new student Monica Chambo who started reading for a degree in teaching at the end of 2019.
Fundraising is extremely important but this year this has been severely curtailed by the Covid virus restricting gatherings for fundraising events such as the annual quiz and garden party. Fundraising has thus mainly come from regular cake and jam sales, as well as several generous donations from friends. Finding funds for necessary rehabilitation of buildings and critical equipment such as the solar and diesel water pumps, computers, photocopier and maize milling machine has thus been extremely difficult, so careful scheduling of the transfer of funds has been required.