Geoff Tennant - Promoting access to mathematics for all
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21/9/14: the boys of Crystal Towers

Since arriving in Tanzania 2 years ago I've been living alone with just the occasional visitor occupying my spare rooms.  Well, that's recently changed!  Very pleased to introduce you to Stephen and Sameer pictured with me above.  Sameer is a colleague at the University and was previously a colleague at Reading - it was he who suggested that I apply for what is now my job.  And Stephen recently obtained his degree in international development and is here looking for work.

Living under the same roof is interesting.  In principle I'm happy to be up late in the evening if in exchange they're happy to join me in the swimming pool at 5am. - although it is noticeable that, during the working week, there is absolutely no movement at all from the other two bedrooms before I've left the flat to go to work.  Much the same at the weekends also!  Although curiously Hellen our housekeeper has less washing up to do now than when it was just me, we're pretty good at washing up after ourselves, not so good at drying and putting things away, though!  And we have regular inspections of the contents of the fridge to try to make sure that things are not getting forgotten.  Just been off together to the beach for the afternoon, reflecting that people pay thousands of pounds to have holidays in places like this.  So, like so many things, a mixed blessing, on balance very pleased to have them here, may be able to persuade them to write a guest entry in the future blog.

Other thing on my mind this week is the Scottish independence vote.  Have to be honest, was not following the debate particularly carefully, although you might be interested to know that it's attracted a certain amount of attention here.  The particular point of interest is the 50 year anniversary in January of the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar to become Tanzania.  Zanzibar maintains a semi-independent government called the Revolutionary Council with control over a number of areas including education issues below higher education, so some of the statistics I see listing Zanzibar and Tanzania Mainland separately - not, please note, Tanganyika, to use that word would imply that you think that there should be separation of the two again.  Also, when you go to Zanzibar, there are immigration controls as if you're going to a different country, with different requirements eg. for the need for a yellow fever certificate.  So, people here are looking at the Scottish debate and thinking, crumbs, their 300 year union still hasn't settled down, does that mean that our unification issues will also run and run?

As I say, I've not followed the debate particularly carefully, so presumably other people have also asked the question as to who exactly was allowed to vote and why?  Those on the electoral register in Scotland, I believe.  So, this will include people of English and other ancestry with no particular loyalty to Scotland except that they currently have a job in the area.  Conversely, those with very strong Scottish loyalty may be living and working in England - or even the United States and elsewhere?  And also, should not English, Welsh and Irish people also be allowed a say as to what happens to their country?  And if youngsters in school are discussing the issues and doing related project work, should they not also be able to vote, given that the repercussions will continue for decades to come?

Although I would observe that I am aware of three small countries - Singapore, Mauritius and Rwanda - which have made huge economic and social strides over the last few decades (20 years in Rwanda) with strong if not always popular leadership, focused on a small number of key goals.  And a former colleague of mine had a strong relationship with Malta and was able to influence policy on special educational needs, in an island of just 1 million people it was possible to get access to senior Government officials and ministers in a manner which would be unimaginable in a larger country.  Possibly Scotland also might have thrived as a small country?  But on balance I'm pleased that the vote went the way that it did - not ecstatic, though.

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