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.
Feb 21, 2017

The Role of Labs in STEM Education

Creative Kid Engineers
Creative Kid Engineers

Dear Project Wezesha Supporters,

Our STEM labs are coming right along. The picture (below) from November shows some of the recent work that was done to build the roof for the laboratory. The building codes for labs ensure appropriate ventilation so that our students are safe when working with different chemicals.

Each time we interview our students about what career they are interested in pursuing, the most frequent responses include engineer, doctor and nurse. With these interests in mind, we're so excited that Amahoro Secondary School will soon have a designated space for students to study science, engineering and math hands on. Even our students who wish to be teachers will need a sound STEM education so that they can become the future Science and Math teachers of Tanzania.

“In the 21st century, scientific and technological innovations have become increasingly important as we face the benefits and challenges of both globalization and a knowledge-based economy. To succeed in this new information-based and highly technological society, students need to develop their capabilities in STEM to levels much beyond what was considered acceptable in the past.” (National Science Foundation)

The reality is that technology is not slowing down so that everyone's STEM literacy can catch up. More and more young people have smart phones, even in remote villages. They are using What's App to communicate across borders. They are using Google and YouTube to learn about the world beyond. But, along with these technologies, it's crucial that they develop important higher order thinking and reasoning skills to question the value and legitimacy of what they are consuming online. STEM subjects provide excellent strategies for developing these skills and many more!

According to the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), students must be encouraged to use observational data and problem-solving as they explore science, technology, engineering and math. This is most successfully accomplished through hands-on learning experiences. NSTA argues that students should have opportunities to collect data every week in laboratory or field settings. Fortunately, Amahoro Secondary School is situated in a perfect environment for field experience - the ecology of the area is very diverse and rich with indigenous trees and native species. Laboratory experience will broaden the science knowledge base they need to advance their studies and compete in the workforce.

In addition to science knowledge, laboratory experience contributes to the development of important 21st Century skills including communication, creative and critical thinking, and collaboration. Most of our students have boundless creativity, just look at the amazing bikes they build from branches and twine (see picture above). With a little support from qualified teachers to explore problems methodically, imagine what they can make happen!

We'll keep you posted and send an update from the field when I return to Tanzania in June!

Much gratitude for your continued support!

Sincerely,

Rai Farrelly
Co-Founder, Project Wezesha

Builders Framing Roof in Lab
Builders Framing Roof in Lab
Jan 3, 2017

New Year Update from Project Wezesha

Students Playing on the Weekend_Study Break!
Students Playing on the Weekend_Study Break!

Happy New Year Project Wezesha Supporters!

We wrapped up 2016 with a really cool pilot project that we're excited to tell you all about.

As most of you have learned through these reports, education in government village schools is readily available, but not always of the same quality as that experienced by the youth in urban government schools or private schools. The short list of reasons includes lack of support for ongoing teacher training, limited English proficiency of teachers and students, lack of educational resources (e.g., laboratories, textbooks, maps, technology), and long walking commutes to schools with no meals provided on site (i.e., hunger, diminished attention spans).

For quite some time, Lucas and I have puzzled over what we can do to build on classroom-based learning. For the past few years, we have been providing additional tutoring for our students between terms and after school, especially for those struggling in particular subjects. The students are always grateful, but it still didn't seem like it was having enough of an impact. Students continued to struggle in classes and some weren't finishing secondary school with marks high enough to get them into high school or vocational school.

This year, Lucas and our dear friend and fellow educator, Madaga, collaborated to develop a study camp to fill the time between school years. Following a brief break at the end of the school year, students from both the Project Wezesha and Girls Education International scholarship programs took part in a rigorous 30-day academic camp during which they engaged in the following activities:

  • 6:30am jog followed by showers and breakfast
  • 7:15am morning meeting, during which students took turns reporting in English on a topic of their choice. They have spoken on the environment, family, managing waste, student motivation, and more!
  • 7:30am start time to their classes, in which they studied English, Biology, Chemistry and Math - the subjects that generally present the most difficulty to all students
  • Midday lunch and rest
  • Afternoon classes followed by evening student-led discussion groups
  • Group dinner, then deep sleep!

Our students were transported into Kigoma town for the study camp, so they live in dorms at the host school. The participating teachers are teachers from town who use technology (including YouTube videos and projectors) to help make concepts clear. The headmaster of the host school has been so supportive of this project - he turns up each day to see how the students are doing, to encourage them, and to make sure Lucas and Madaga don't have any unmet needs.

Midway through the study camp, our students' parents traveled from the villages to visit their children, listen to updates from teachers and speeches from the organizers (Lucas and Madaga), and get a sense of the overall impact of this opportunity. They are immensely grateful for the support we've been able to provide, thanks to you!

In addition to the study camp, we have additional brief updates that we'll elaborate on in the coming months. One of our students, Diana, has been working as an assistant in a lawyer's office, but she is ready to start her own business. Khadija and Hindu are rounding the ben on their work contracts in Oman and will be returning to Tanzania to start their own business as a team. We'll helping all three of these girls through mini-capital campaigns to help them buy the equipment they need to get started. Our student Ismael is starting his final year at the vocational school in Kigoma where he has been studying driving and car mechanics.

We also launched a last minute holiday campaign in a response to a desperate plea from the leaders of Mgaraganza Village. They had no funds to buy desks and chairs for the incoming freshman at Amahoro Secondary School - 160 new students! This is, of course, a government expense, but while the government was quick to place 160 new students, it was not so quick to send funds to provide them seating. We have comitted to providing 50 desks and chairs, but the more we raise, the more we will provide. We are so grateful to those who responded immediately to the rally cry and helped us raise just over $1,000 in 48 hours so that Lucas could rush to the carpenter and put in an order in time for the start of the school year in mid January.

As ever, we are very grateful for the support you have provided along the way to help make all of this happen. Thanks to the speed with which technology is reacing all corners of the world, I now get What's App messages from Lucas, Madaga and several of our students regularly! I feel the impact of our work daily through their words and pictures. Please know that what is happening in this community thanks to the work of Project Wezesha ... well, it's powerful! The ripples may be small, but they are increasing in size and frequency! Imagine, an entire collective of small villages knows that a group of grassroots donors working through Project Wezesha has got their back--cares about their young people, and therefore their community!

I'll continue to share the updates, but make sure to also like us on Facebook so you can keep up with periodic updates and see more photos and videos. Keep an eye open for invitations to take on your own mini-projects in the coming months!

Use the sharing buttons below and help us spread the word. A little goes a long way!

Asante Sana,

Rai Farrelly & Lucas Lameck
Co-founders, Project Wezesha
www.projectwezesha.org

Morning Meeting_Giving Speeches in English
Morning Meeting_Giving Speeches in English
Measuring Learning through Periodic Assessments
Measuring Learning through Periodic Assessments
Lunch Time - even Madaga and Lucas help serve
Lunch Time - even Madaga and Lucas help serve
Student leading discussion seminar
Student leading discussion seminar
Village Leaders Requesting Funds for Desks
Village Leaders Requesting Funds for Desks

Links:

Dec 21, 2016

Girls Ed Pakistan - 2017 Year end Report

On the grounds at Taxila
On the grounds at Taxila

Despite challenging financial times, 2016 was a very good year for our program in Pakistan. As you may recall, three years ago we set out to fund secondary education for 60 girls and young women in an area of remote villages in the Chakwal district. As a result of parent and community support, we were able to extend our original budget with our partner on the ground, Bedari, to support around 100 students, and we have continued at this level. Here are a few highlights from the year:

Examinations

During the exam cycle earlier this year, 101 girls appeared for exams.

  • 35 from grades 6 and 7, and 21 from grade 8. All passed.
  • 25 girls appeared and passed the secondary exams. One girl got married, and did not appear for her exam. This year Aiman achieved the highest marks at the secondary level securing 884 out of 1050 marks. We are sure that she would receive the prize announced by the government of Punjab. The cash prize is Pak. Rs. 27,000 (US $ 270). Furthermore, this makes her eligible for fee waiver if she studies at any government college for her grades.
  • Five of the six girls who appeared for the higher secondary level passed immediately, and the other will appear again to retry the failed papers.
  • Two girls appeared for their BA (14th grade, or graduation) exams. One passed, and the other will return for the failed papers.

Self-Growth Training Sessions

Bedari conducted one day “self-growth” sessions for girls during this quarter. In 4 villages, five self-growth trainings were conducted separately. The topics of the sessions were:

1.       Self-awareness

2.       Communication Skills

3.       Our Needs and Our Rights

4.       Difference between Violence and Gender Based Violence

5.       Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights

Overall, 123 girls benefited from these trainings, among which 22 were part of our project and had graduated out of this project also joined us during these trainings.

Vocational Training

Vocational training was also given to train girls on making hand-made jewelry for different functions. Girls really liked this activity and appreciated it.

Exposure Visit

On 25th September, the girls were taken to Taxila, the destination of their choice. In this informative visit 113 people participated including the girls and members of Child Protection Committee and everyone enjoyed it thoroughly.

Taxila is an ancient city that flourished between 6th century BC and 5th Century AD. It has lots of remains from that era with a good museum, and is some 32 kilometers to the north of Islamabad.

Case Study- Iqra

Iqra and her elder sister were able to continue their educations and delay marriage by two years.

Iqra lives in Maira Aemah – one of our target villages selected in 2014 at the commencement of the 2nd phase of our project. Bedari staff met Iqra who had 8 years of education, and was not able to continue her education as the secondary school was in another town, and it involved daily commute which meant more expenditure.

Iqra’s father was planning to marry both of his daughters – Iqra and her elder sister. Iqra was just 14 years old, while her elder sister was 16 at that time.

Bedari’s program officer tried to convince Iqra’s father for not marrying her off at such a very young age. These marriages could ruin their future. The program officer further told about the problems associated with early marriage and importance of education, in every possible way.

In the meanwhile, Bedari team talked to uncle Fida, a community member, regarding Iqra’s education and the issue of marriage. Mr. Fida discussed this matter with community elders, and some like-minded people jointly talked to Iqra’s father. This helped a lot, and he finally gave in. Luckily, he not only postponed Iqra’s marriage, but also her elder sister’s.

That was the happiest day for Iqra. She got admission in Kallar Kahar High School. She was a keen observer and a very good learner. She worked really hard and made the most out of the two years she got. She not only helped herself, but also helped her elder sister. Though only Iqra went to school, yet both the sisters prepared for secondary school exam, and both appeared – Iqra as a regular student from a secondary school, while her elder sister as a private student.

Both the sisters passed their secondary exam in 2016. It was a difficult time again. Iqra wanted to study further, but her father would not agree to it. Bedari staff along with the local volunteer (Mr. Fida) and his friends tried their best, but ultimately her father did not budge from his position.

Iqra got married on September 09, 2016 when she was 16 years and 5 months old. Her sister also got married and she was 18 years old. Bedari staff were very sad that they could not get her another two years of education, but are also happy that the elder sister had attained the age of 18 years, while Iqra was also 16 years old – the legal age of marriage in Punjab.

Tragedy Strikes

Tragically, the parents of two of the beneficiary girls were killed in early August. Bedari has stepped up and is covering all the costs of their education, paying their tuition fees and books in addition to the travel costs.

Farewell to 2016

We at Girls Education International wish you a very happy holiday season, and look forward to continuing our work together in 2017. As always, it is your funding that makes these programs possible, changing the lives and futures of these young women. We thank you tremendously for your support.

Outside the museum at Taxila
Outside the museum at Taxila

Links:

 
   

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