27 November, 2021, 11:09

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Messages - Ingrid Harris

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I am glad to be able to get into this Forum at last; for months/years there was no reaction to my registration.  About the Dodoma European School there have been all kinds of misnomers and misapprehensions over the years.  It was actually founded by my father, John Henry Harris, who was the Research Metallurgist (the only metallurgist in fact) at the Geological Survey Dept in Dodoma 1935-1955, when I became of an age to need schooling.  In 1950 there was no primary school for the growing number of European children in Dodoma, so when we came back from leave in that year (I was 5 years old) my father started applying to the Education Department for a school to be built.  The funding for the building came from the Government. The school itself was run, like so many others in Tanganyika at the time, as a private enterprise.  It was a fee-paying school.  My father was himself the Manager for the first two years of the school's existence and he hired the teachers that were around at the time, i.e. the New Zealand missionaries, and paid them out of the school fees. While the school was being built, Valerie and myself and a handful of other 5-year-olds did indeed sit in a store cupboard in the Dodoma Club in front of a blackboard and learn to read THE CAT SAT ON THE MAT.  I think Valerie is right about the year the school opened (1951) but not about the funding.  It would not have been possible from a party at the Club to pay for a school building!  (The show Valerie remembers was also organised by my father, who loved music and conjuring, but it was the following year 1952 and was in aid of the Red Cross, not any educational project.  That show was called Midnight Blues.  My father stayed up and wrote the whole show in one night, songs, dances, jokes, conjuring tricks, and it had just one performance, as Valerie remembers, at the Club. I still have the original script and recording). The fact that the European School was fee-paying and staffed by missionaries gave it its character from the very beginning.  My father ran the school for 2 years and then when we were due to go on leave again in 1953 he handed the management over to the Anglican Diocese in the person of Archdeacon Cordell and that is why the school has an Anglican character to this day.  Canon Andrea Mwaka must have taken over this responsibility but he was certainly not the founder as he took office more than a decade later. The standard of teaching in those first years was not very high: just as in the mission schools the teachers concentrated on crafts and Bible study but were not well-trained to impart the 3Rs.  I suffered all my life from a poor Maths foundation and I can see that spelling remained a problem for some pupils!  My father must have recognised this as he took me away from the Dodoma European School in 1954 and sent me to the Southern Highlands School at Sao Hill, where my elder brother already was. In 1985 I was able to return to Dodoma with my parents.  By then I was a higher education lecturer myself in the UK and JH Harris was a world expert on mining and metallurgy working for the United Nations and he was charged with the mission requested by the Tanzanian Government to assess the mineral wealth of Tanzania and its economic potential.  We stayed for one month in Dodoma and I was able to revisit the school.  The teachers, still mostly New Zealanders, were very welcoming and showed me the early records where my name as a pupil and my father's name as manager featured.  In the classrooms the pupils were amazed to meet an original student!  The school was officially called the International School at that moment but it was popularly known as the Stockley School.  Gordon Stockley was a geologist who had been at the Geological Survey in Dodoma since the 1920s.  He stayed on after Independence and had a road named after him.  What had been the Golf Course Road where the European School was built became the Stockley Road, and so people started to associate the road with their memories of a chap from the Geological Survey and (mistakenly) the school was nicknamed the Stockley School.  They got the wrong man!  Anyway, it is wonderful to see that the school my father founded and where I spent my early years still flourishes and is to all appearances a prestige school in Tanzania!