Girls Education International

The mission of Girls Education International is to expand and support educational opportunities for underserved females in remote and developing regions of the world. We work with existing non-governmental and nonprofit organizations in the regions we serve. These local organizations already have relationships and infrastructures in the rural communities where we work that allow us to build upon and maximize existing resources.
Aug 12, 2013

Girls Ed in Tanzania_August 2013 Report

Dear Girls Ed Supporters,

Thank you so much for your enthusiasm about the launch of our new program in Tanzania! We are very excited to have an official roster of girls that we will be supporting in the upcoming 2014 school year. The girls are all Standard 7 Primary School students who will be moving into secondary school in January. This report will let you know about the selection process and give you some information about the girls we have selected.

In the Spring of 2013, the Girls Ed board met and discussed the possibility of expanding our support of girls into Tanzania. The move seemed logical since we already partner with Project Wezesha who works in the Kigoma region. We have support on the ground through Lucas Lameck, co-founder of Project Wezesha. Lucas will work with Girls Ed to make sure that the girls’ school fees are paid and that their grades are reported to Girls Ed throughout the 4-year scholarship program. 

In July 2013, Lucas and I (Rai Farrelly) considered the number of primary schools in each of the 5 villages within the Kagongo Ward, from which we would select the girls. The Kagongo Ward includes the same villages that Project Wezesha works with - Mgaraganza, Kagongo, Kigaliye, Mtanga and Kalalangabo. The lakeside villages of Mtanga, Kalalangabo and Kigaliye each have one primary school, Kagongo has two and Mgaraganza has four - so we chose more girls from Mgaraganza and Kagongo villages than the lakeside villages.

Success in secondary school depends on the foundations established in primary school, but even with decent scores in main subject areas in primary school, a key factor in secondary school success is English language. Tanzania still teaches all subjects in Swahili through primary school, then switches abruptly to English in secondary school. As a result, many secondary students struggle to understand the teachings of their mainstream courses - such as physics, math, geography - all of which are taught in English. With this in mind, we decided to provide scholarships to the top 3 girls in each standard 7 class that we targeted.

We delivered applications and met with head teachers at each primary school. We explained our program and how we were selecting the girls. The head teachers had a few days to calculate scores of the girls in standard 7 classes and have them complete their applications. The applications asked for personal information as well as short responses to two questions that targeted their personal interests and why they valued education, including what they wanted to do after school.

We returned to collect applications, meet the girls, congratulate them on being selected and take their pictures. As you can imagine, beneath several shy smiles and averted glances, all the girls were very excited. As the girls came in to the office, they kept straight faces and dropped to a squat position - a sign of respect or deference. I quickly asked each to stand up and walked over to shake their hands and exchange greetings in English (always making them smile at this point). Hi, how are you? What is your name? My name is Rai. My first question in Swahili was Do you want to go to secondary school? (Smiles grow with enthusiastic affirmative responses.) Then, Lucas and I explained the program and fielded any questions they had (which was always none). When we took pictures, they always gave me a good ‘poker face’ first, then I coaxed them until they showed me their beautiful smiles - the more natural look for all of them! 

Now, we are happy to have 25 girls in our program! Among the girls, we have some who want to be teachers, nurses, and doctors. Their responses to ‘why is education important to you’ include: it will help me live a better life; it will help me teach people how to conserve the environment; it will help me to continue into higher education; it will help me to contribute to society.

The following 25 girls will be joining our program in January! (*Caveat: unfortunately, there is a national examination that the girls must pass to go to secondary school. We acknowledge that while we’ve chosen the top girls from each class, there is still the chance - especially from the more remote village schools where scores were lower on average - that some of our girls will not pass into secondary school. If this happens, we will either select girls who are currently in secondary school, in good standing, who cannot pay their school fees and face being sent home. Hopefully, this won’t come to pass - but we’ll keep you posted when the scores are back in December!).

Name, Age and Village (you can see pics of all the girls here)

  1. Melania Jonas Zakalia, 14 Mgaraganza Village
  2. Hawa Iddi Kakombi, 13, Mgaraganza Village
  3. Hajira Abasi Yonia, 14, Mgaraganza Village
  4. Ashura Yasini Mahamudu, 14, Mgaraganza Village
  5. Kurwa Sarumi Mirambi, 17, Mgaraganza Village
  6. Subira Samsoni Steni, 12, Mgaraganza Village
  7. Sada Moshi, 14, Mgaraganza Village
  8. Vashithi Salvatory, 13, Mgaraganza Village
  9. Edasta Befa, 14, Mgaraganza Village
  10. Sesilia Hereriko, 16, Tegeje, Mgaraganza Village
  11. Dola MAchumu Yona, 16, Kagongo Village - Ranked 1st in class - boys and girls!!
  12. Adija Hemei Husseni, 14, Kagongo Village
  13. Skorastika Leonard, 14, Kagongo Village
  14. Eva Raphaeli, 13, Kagongo Village - Ranked 1st in class - boys and girls!!
  15. Asia Abedi, 13, Kagongo Village
  16. Rebeka Barnaba, 15, Kagongo Village
  17. Rabia Msekwa Julias, 15, Mtanga Village
  18. Shida Hemedi Mfutaha, 12, MtangaVillage
  19. Mwayaona Ramadhani Umtulano, 14, Mtanga Village
  20. Radhia Moshi, 16, Kigaliye Village
  21. Tausi Kibaya, 13, Kigaliye Village
  22. Salima Ismaili, 14, Kigaliye Village
  23. Lois Evarist Balihula, 13, Kalalangabo Village
  24. Asha Ramadhani Saidi, 14, Kalalangabo Village
  25. Hawa Mustapha Omari, 14, Kalalangabo Village

Thank you for your continued support. Please consider sharing the work we're doing with friends and family who you think might be interested in chipping in so we can continue to provide scholarships to girls in LIberia, Pakistan and Tanzania.

Sincerely,

The Girls Ed Team

Girls from Mgaraganza and Kagina Primary Schools
Girls from Mgaraganza and Kagina Primary Schools
Girls at Mtanga Primary
Girls at Mtanga Primary

Links:

Aug 12, 2013

Project Wezesha August 2013 Update

Our Students
Our Students

Dear Project Wezesha and Girls Ed Supporters,

I returned from a recent trip to Tanzania, during which I visited with most of our current scholarship students - including those who have recently graduated from secondary school with hopes of continued support for vocational school or college. Here's how our visit went:

On Saturday, July 13th Lucas, Maiko and I made our way into Mgaraganza Village with Saidi and Albert, two of our students who stay in town. Our destination – Amahoro Secondary School. Our purpose – meet with the current students in our program to visit, chat, and take pictures.

Between 11a – 12p, the students showed up alone, in pairs, in small groups. When all were present, we were a group of 21 students plus Lucas and Maiko. A few of our students were not able to join us because they attend schools outside of the region (Iringa, Dar es Salaam, Dodoma and Tabora).

Starting out our visit, there were many greetings and introductions among the students so they could get to know one another. It’s nice to see this scholarship program bringing new friends together from neighboring village around the shared desire to continue their education.

Once everyone was together, we sat around one of the unfinished, shaded and breezy classrooms of the new school. Lucas invited them to ask questions and share views. Of course, the students I’ve known the longest were initially the most chatty. They provided some insights into the situations that most affect students here in Tanzania. One student shared that life for students is hard and that after school, there is no time to study.  Her mother died a long time ago and now her father, who is elderly, is ailing. Hajira, therefore has a lot of work to do around the house to help her father and grandmother after school. This includes everything from tending to the animals, fetching water and firewood, and cooking.

Khadija, one of our long-time students who now attends VETA to study computers (having completed secondary school 2 years ago) noted that yes, life is hard and there is much work to do, but there is also the issue of students being lazy. She said there are plenty of times in the week when students are not working, times when they could be studying but they don’t. Of course, I know both cases to be true. Those who dig deep and find the motivation to study and strive for 'more' will hopefully reach their goals.

Fortunately, several of our students are driven and highly value the opportunity being afforded them. Khadija will be taking a ‘field’ assignment near Kasulu in the fall where she’ll work as a secretary in an office to put her new computer skills to use. Diana has enrolled herself in a college, similar to VETA to also study computer and secretarial skills. Ismael and Kiza are aiming for Nursing School. They both have scores high enough in the subjects necessary for admission to a Nursing program near Kasulu. Lucas and I told them that now their responsibility is to find out all the information Lucas needs for us to proceed – application due dates, cost of tuition, and other details. We talked to them about initiative and encouraged them not to wait for Lucas or me to make suggestions and connections for them.

The usual woes of the education system emerged: shortage of teachers, teachers who don’t come to class, lack of textbooks, cost of school fees (for those out of our program), size of the class, low English language proficiency for subjects taught in English only, lack of breakfast that leaves them starving by noon and unable to focus, etc. If the Government could just make two major changes, education and therefore life in Tanzania would be dramatically improved: 1) make secondary school free and 2) adopt dual language immersion (Kiswahili and English) earlier in primary school or implement it in secondary school. The abrupt transition from education in Swahili to education in English is brutal and causes most failures.

They also paired up and brainstormed some questions to ask me so that we could discuss other issues or so they could just pick my brain a bit. They asked me lots of questions – some requests for additional support, some requests for a field trip to Gombe or the Livingston Memorial, some personal Qs (Do you have children? Why not? Are you married? Why not? How old are you? – most guessed in the 20s, so that was nice).

We took many pictures, coaxing smiles so the true personalities that I have come to know really shine through. After a long afternoon together, everyone was hungry (especially our Muslim students who were fasting for Ramadan). We bid farewell and everyone headed off in different directions toward their home villages. It was so fulfilling to see these students that I've known for years - grown, happy, excited to continue studying and very grateful for the support they've received from you!

For more pictures of this visit and plenty of smile shots, visit our Facebook page and click on the album entitled: Catching up with Our Students 2013. We would love your continued support as we support these students through secondary school and onward into nursing programs, vocational schools or high school. Please consider making a contribution and/or sharing our work with your friends and family.

Thank you so much!

Zainabu and Rai
Zainabu and Rai

Links:

Jul 1, 2013

June 2013 Girls Ed Liberia Project Report

Dear Girls Ed Supporters,

We are happy to report that the girls are all doing well and continuing to diligently pursue their education.  The semester will finish in July so we will be able to report the girls' progress at that time.  

The CEO of our in-country affiliate, Liberia Now, recently returned from a visit and was able to meet with all of the girls as well as our nursing student Veronica.  We will have the interview transcripts to share with you later this summer.  Along with meeting with current students, the staff of Liberia Now also collected and reviewed applications for new students who will begin their studies with our scholarship assistance next semester.  Girls Ed will continue to support the ten girls as they move into the next level, while adding five more scholarship recipients, all thanks to your help.

We appreciate your ongoing support, and hope to continue to expand our reach in Liberia as the nation works to recover and gain strength through efforts such as ours, empowering its citizens to improve their futures.

With gratitude,

Loni 

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