The Evolution of International School of Tanganyika and Tanzania Through the Eyes of a Long-Time Teacher

First year book staff picture

Anne McAra started teaching at the International School of Tanganyika (IST) in 1986 and has bared witness both to the school and the country’s evolution. 

“IST is a very special and unique school with over 60 nationalities represented,” McAra said. “This was the case when I joined and remains so today, and makes IST an exceptionally interesting, lively and accepting, community to be part of.”

When McAra first joined the school, the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme was only offered to Grades 11 and 12.

The Programme has now evolved to every grade, with the Primary Years Programme (PYP) in the Elementary School, the Middle Years Programme (MYP) in the middle school and the IB Diploma Programme in High School. 

“The curriculum is always evolving with teachers constantly looking as to how to best serve the individual needs of the students.”

In addition to academics, the school has evolved in the devices the teachers use to help the students learn most efficiently. 

Technology such as Chromebooks, MacBooks and smart boards have all made a huge impact on the school. 

Something that has been promoted since McAra first arrived is the use of experiential learning trips - the use of field trips to help the students understand what is being taught. 

“When I arrived in 1986 I was encouraged, as a teacher of Geography, to organize field trips for my students,” McAra said. “Reaching out to explore, understand and respect the local community and becoming involved with service learning projects is paramount to the IST philosophy.”

A Broader Look at Tanzania Throughout History

As McAra and her students explored the local community through field trips and the Service Learning Programme, they witnessed first-hand how Tanzania was evolving around them. 

“Tanzania is a special and beautiful country. It has many riches such as wonderful game parks, beautiful beaches, the highest mountain in Africa and wonderful, friendly people.”

When McAra first started teaching, imported goods and foodstuffs were not readily available and there were no plastic bags. 

“Food was bought at the many markets and it was necessary to go with a basket,” McAra said. 

At the time, there were no supermarkets or shopping malls and the skyline was only bordered with one story buildings.

Now, Dar es Salaam is an exciting city and has grown extensively over the 30 years since McAra arrived. There are many markets, authentic restaurants, modern shopping malls and the skyline is one with high-rise office building and apartments. 

Something McAra has consistently witnessed since her first day in Dar is the welcoming locals and rich culture. 

“I have always found Tanzania and Dar es Salaam to be a very open-minded and accepting society,”

Within the city, there are Mosques, churches, Hindu Temples, a Sikh Temple, a Jain Temple and a Buddhist Temple and there is a great deal of respect for each religion in the community. 

“During our Grade 5 unit of study on religion our students are invited to each house of prayer and explore the many similarities between the religions,” McAra said. 

As McAra looks back at her time both at IST and in the community, she does so with fondness and gratitude; she is proud to call this place home. 

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