For the past six years, a small committee in the basement of the Phillips Brooks House has been carrying on a unique and exciting project in international education called Volunteer Teachers for Africa. Each year, V.T.A. (formerly known as Project Tanganyika) sends a dozen or more Harvard and Radcliffe students to teach for twelve months in East African schools, community centers, and refugee camps. And each year former project members return to Harvard to proselytize for the next group to follow.
The experience which V.T.A. members find in East Africa is broad and exciting enough to justify their enthusiasm. Project members have founded three schools and helped staff a dozen others from Zanzibar to Mt. Kilimanjaro. Several have been hired by the Tanzanian government; one became assistant to the Minister of Finance, another was director of a refugee camp for 6000 Watutsi from Rwanda.
On returning to Harvard, almost half of V.T.A.'s participants have written theses dealing with Africa or have gone away to graduate school in African Studies. This year, one former member is going to the Ivory Coast as a geologist, another is in Zambia as an educational evaluator, a third is working with African students in the U.S.
Unlike the Peace Corps, Volunteer Teachers for Africa does not represent the American government and can work in places where political problems are delicate. This year two teachers are going to Bechuanaland; at least four will be teaching refugees from Mozambique and Rhodesia. Draft boards, however, grant deferment to V.T.A. as well as Peace Corps members; only two of fifteen members this year have been refused. V.T.A. teachers are presently training by studying Swahili and teaching English to Puerto Ricans in Boston's South End.
What follows are two accounts of teaching in Africa by members of last year's project. One found, in building a school, that problems of educational development can be quite concrete. The other discovered that nation-building is a big job, but can produce remarkable results.