At the close of 2013, Opportunity International’s four education finance products — school improvement loans, school fee loans, tertiary loans, and EduSave school fee insurance — had helped school proprietors add classrooms, ensured that children could stay in school, and funded higher education. Thousands upon thousands of children are starting on the right foot because of investments in their education. The exact number of children who benefited from these investments in 2013? A stunning 572,350.
Opportunity has increased its loans in all areas of education, from school improvement to school fees. School improvement loans allow proprietors to install proper toilet facilities, purchase textbooks and desks, and provide their students with a safe educational environment. School fee loans mean that children can continue their educations, even if their parents cannot afford tuition. Tertiary loans help students pursue their dreams of university or vocational school. In Uganda alone, Opportunity plans to support an additional 3000 students with school fee loans by 2016. Eleven schools in Rwanda had received school improvement loans by the end of 2013, just one year after the launch of the program.
But education is about so much more than just loans. That’s why Opportunity provides training to school proprietors, to promote quality improvement and ensure they can effectively manage their schools. Training ranges from School Financial Management to Teacher Management to various pedagogical methods. 540 proprietors and teachers in Ghana – 80% of the school owners -- have participated in this training. Youth financial training has been implemented as well, with workshops on financial literacy and saving expected to affect 6000 at-risk Ugandan girls by early 2016.
Even after all the successes of 2013, we’re still not satisfied. We believe in sustainable development, and are in the middle of studying strategies for expanding our educational footprint in Tanzania, Colombia, India, and beyond. With the power of education, we can transform the lives of young people worldwide and break the cycle of poverty once and for all.
Wearing crisp uniforms and sitting in row upon row of wooden desks, a classroom of children follows a lesson with their teacher at the Maryhill Junior School in Uganda. When the teacher prompts, sometimes they answer in unison, other times a myriad of hands shoot in the air, students bursting to catch the teacher’s eye. This was not always the case in this farming town 25 kilometers outside Kampala, the capital city. It’s not hard to marvel at how far the school’s founder Thomas has come.
Through Thomas’ vision and hard work, the Maryhill Junior School has risen from humble beginnings. In 2006, when he was just in his mid-twenties, Thomas made a commitment. He was determined to provide a better education to the children in his community. Like most dreams, his started small. He leased two cramped rooms on a rented plot of land, opening his doors to welcome 37 students. Today, Thomas’ school serves 356 students from K-7, many of whom board on campus. Thomas is making his dream to provide education to his community a reality. Beyond that, the community has found his passion and vision contagious. In the early days, Thomas had to do nearly everything, but today he employs a cadre of 14 teachers and seven caregivers – that’s 21 adults making Thomas’ commitment happen.
His first loan of less than $2,000 allowed him to expand his school by renting more rooms. Over time, Thomas qualified for a larger, more flexible loan valuing $7,600 which he invested to construct kindergarten classrooms. He is currently leveraging his most recent loan of $25,000 to finance an assembly hall and clean running water and electricity in the primary block. It is because of the support of people like you that Thomas has been able to create such growth and community impact.
Thomas makes a point of going above and beyond for his students, caring little if these selfless acts go unseen. This includes washing the uniforms and shoes of his students, sending them a clear message that they are worthy. When chatting about the future, Thomas says, “I have a dream to add computers, a library and clean running water in the rest of the units. I know I will achieve this with Opportunity as my business partner.”
Education is the single largest determining factor for future economic status. Yet, 130 million young people worldwide are not in school—and 70 percent are girls. If a girl cannot complete secondary school, she is at a higher risk of illiteracy, HIV and early marriage, offering little chance of reaching her potential.
One out of every two people on this planet struggles to feed and educate their children. Your support helps Opportunity bring new educational opportunities to children in impoverished neighborhoods around the world. With financial support and business training, school proprietors can build schools and hire teachers, as well as add classrooms, meal services and lavatories. School Propietors like Thomas Balya Bugembe.
Thomas, a former seminarian, dreamed of opening a school for the underserved students of Sonde, Uganda. In 2006, he opened Maryhill Kindergarten and Junior School with just 37 students in two rooms on land.
Enrollment grew steadily, and so did Thomas’ determination to improve the quality of education for his students -- whose parents were mostly subsistencefarmers.
With a series of incremental loans,Opportunity Uganda helped Thomas purchase his own land and expand the school to include a main hall and a kindergarten wing. He now has 14 qualified teachers at Maryhill Kindergarten and Junior School to help him serve nearly 400 Ugandan students.
Thomas says his partnership with Opportunity International will allow him to continue expanding the range of educational opportunities at Maryhill and offer a brighter future for students.
Thomas plans to construct a school library, complete with a computer lab and technological training for students. He has a vision of three separate buildings: one each for kindergarten students, day students and boarding students.
THANK YOU for your continued partnership. Your generous support is changing the face of education in the developing world. Cumulatively, we have provided School Improvement loans and training to 1,112 school proprietors and 13,096 School Fee loans to families. What Opportunity’s done for Education this year:
Education is the single largest determining factor for future economic status. Yet, 130 million young people worldwide are not in school — and 70% of them are girls. If a girl cannot complete secondary school, she is at a higher risk of illiteracy, HIV and early marriage, offering little chance of reaching her potential.
Opportunity International sees investing in education as an instrumental component in helping our clients to break out of the cycle of poverty. With your support, Opportunity International is funding children’s education by providing loans to proprietors to build and expand schools and helping provide school fee loans to parents so they can send their children to school.
Meet one of our loan clients Comfort Appiah. Comfort saw that the children in her neighborhood needed access to a quality education. Today, she is an education finance loan client with Opportunity International and is the founder, owner and director of Ahobrase Academy in Accra, Ghana.
Ahobrase Academy began in 1998 as a small nursery in Comfort’s home. Comfort realized that the children in her neighborhood loitered and never attended classes, so she wanted to provide a place for them to learn. In the beginning, it was difficult. She had to go out into the community and bring these children, some without clothes or shoes, into her home for lessons and food. She would bathe, clothe and feed them. The next day, the children would either return naked again or they would not come back at all. After a while, a friend advised her to remove the clothes and slippers and send them home as they had arrived. This worked like magic — the children came back every day. Gradually, as the number of students grew, Comfort thought of ways to expand since Ahobrase was outgrowing her small porch.
In 2009, upon a friend’s advice, Comfort turned to Opportunity for a school proprietor loan that would provide capital to purchase a building and expand the school. Today, Ahobrase Academy serves more than 700 students from pre-school to junior high school with an education previously unavailable in their neighborhood. The school is a source of jobs, with 38 academic and non-teaching staff. Comfort’s dream is to complete the expansion of her school and to buy a larger school bus. She’s proud of the education that she and her husband are now able to give the local children.
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