Ayano Fukumoto: Japanese volunteer teacher simplifies mathematics

by MMC
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Moshi. While mathematics is considered a tough bone to chew by Tanzanian students, a Japanese volunteer teacher, Ms. Ayano Fukumoto, 33, applies different teaching methods to simplify the subject.

Ms Ayano, who teaches Grades III and V Mathematics at Karanga Primary School in Moshi District, Kilimanjaro Region, used different teaching methods, inspiring students to love the subject.

This is contrary to what some teachers claim, who use traits to force students to understand and love the subject.

The Standard III and Standard V classrooms taught by Ms. Ayano are fully decorated with different teaching materials displayed on the walls with the aim of increasing students’ understanding and learning at their convenience.

The Japanese volunteer teacher used different materials for demonstration purposes, including different colored sheets of card paper, to describe different mathematical principles, making it easier for students to memorize and memorize.

Speaking exclusively to The Citizen, Ms Ayano says multiplication is a major challenge faced by the majority of students in Tanzania.

She says using demonstration materials, including things used in everyday life – songs and dances – made it easy for students to remember what they were being taught and leave the classroom in a meaningful way. activated.

“In order to reduce fear among children, I always create a happy atmosphere in the classroom through the integration of sports among the students.

“When it comes to multiplication, students form certain shapes and use songs, which allows them to enhance their learning in interesting ways,” she says.

According to her, students who demonstrated remarkable abilities in memorizing multiplication tables were crowned with medals prepared by the Japanese teacher.

“In order to allow students to understand the concept of volume and distance, I led the students to measure the volume of water. We compared and differentiated distances, for example 100 meters and 1,000 meters,” she says.

“I believe that skills and knowledge cannot be acquired by reading textbooks, memorizing mathematical formulas and copying what is written on the board,” she adds.

She emphasizes that in the education of primary school children, the deployment of real experience was an important technique in the educational sector.

Ms. Ayano says she began passing on math techniques to other teachers at the school.

“My colleagues have shown interest in these techniques. However, they are not obligated to adopt and use them in their classes; rather, they are free to choose better teaching approaches. This is because my techniques are not always better; that’s why I continue to learn from others,” she says.

Ms Ayano arrived and worked in the country from August 2019 to March 2020 before returning to Japan due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

During this period, she taught at Masasi Primary School in Mtwara Region and Sanyajuu Primary School in Siha District, Kilimanjaro Region.

Ms Ayano joined Karanga Primary School in May 2023 after returning to the country with the support of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica).

She says for Tanzania to improve the quality of education, the government should collaborate with stakeholders to improve curricula and the quality of textbooks.

“Because I believe in investments in the education sector, it is necessary to see if the education budget could be increased and start using projectors during classes in order to revolutionize the country’s education,” she says.

Regarding her mastery of the Kiswahili language, Ms. Ayano says that before arriving in the country, she was enrolled in learning Kiswahili in Japan for a period of three months.

“I always shared with my colleagues the content of what I was planning before entering class. The challenge remains my inability to understand the communication of certain students; therefore, I seek help from my colleague,” says Ms. Ayano.

After graduating, Ms. Ayano was recruited as a teacher in one of Japan’s public primary schools, where she worked for 10 years before arriving in Tanzania to volunteer.

Students and teachers speak out

One of the students, Husna Olotu, described Ms. Ayano as a teacher who does not lose hope easily, pointing out that she is usually hurt when students do not understand.

“Most of the time we understand what she teaches. In case anyone doesn’t understand, myself included, Ms. Ayano took time to give additional, polite instructions,” she says, insisting that she is hardly discouraged.

“Those who don’t understand also have the opportunity to learn individually. She politely corrects students’ mistakes without whipping them,” she adds.

Abubakar Kinda, a Grade V student, said Ms. Ayano used demonstrative methods common to students, including homework, and provided students with different examples.

“I am happy to be taught by Professor Ayano, whose teaching aims to enable students to understand the subjects well. If I don’t understand, I’m always the teacher, making sure I understand the topic completely by using different examples,” she says.

Agustina Massawe, headmistress of Karanga Primary School, says Ms Ayano has been teaching at the school for five months.

“During this time, the student’s understanding of the subject improved significantly,” she says.

Another mathematics teacher, Mr Tumsifu Sanga, says Ms Ayano’s innovation and hard work have transformed the way mathematics is taught in school.

“She is a very good teacher who loves her work. She worked efficiently and innovatively. She is a teacher who is very careful with her time and never arrives late for class.

“Ms. Ayano has been effective and is disappointed by the child’s inability to understand what he is being taught. Sometimes she sits with the students; the students celebrate things in an awesome way,” she says.

Mr Sanga says students’ development in the mathematics subject has improved significantly compared to the past, when most students failed to memorize different formulas, including multiplication tables.

“But Ayano has developed different methods that allow students to memorize the list with confidence, thereby improving their performance,” he explains.

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