Jul 7, 2020

Girls Education in Covid world

Dear supporters, as the world unfolds in new and unexpected ways Girls Ed International and our partner in Pakistan are also facing novel situations. We don't have all the answers and solutions to the possible troubles but we do know that we are committed to standing by our partner in Pakistan, Bedari, and offering our support during those difficult times.

At the moment in Pakistan COVID19 cases are spreading rapidly and governments across the provinces are enforcing social distancing guidelines. In response to the outbreak, schools closed in Mid March. There is no clear information when schools will reopen. Most of the exams that our girls in grades 8-12 were scheduled to take to graduate or move to the next level have been postponed indefinitely. There is no online education system for the students of government schools. Government started some classes/lectures on Pakistan Television (PTV)  but this has not been too effective because in remote areas there is no provision of electricity. For examples Kot Shamas and Pather are the areas of Sadiqabad where there is no electricity and many of our GEI students are from these areas. On top of that, in areas where there is electricity, in most of the houses, there is no television. Needless to say, GEI girls belong to poor families. Poverty has only increased due to COVID 19. The daily wagers are in financial crisis as they have no stock of food items and money to fulfill the necessities of daily life. In these types of situations, parents consider the burden of girls. The early marriage possibilities become a reality quickly. 

As the response, together with Bedari, we believe it is necessary to engage girls as much as possible in healthy activities. They need to know that their formal education will be a reality again and staying engaged is a pathway to that. We are in the process of identifying these stimulating activities and hope to make a difference in lives of those young women, perhaps in times when they need us the most. We will keep you posted as the ideas get finalized and become more concrete. We can't do this without you, our supporters, so we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

 

 

 

 

Jun 23, 2020

Returning to School in a COVID-19 Era

The Whole Crew at Study Camp
The Whole Crew at Study Camp

Dear Project Wezesha Supporters, 

We hope this update finds you in good health with access to your loved ones. In these challenging times, we at Project Wezesha want you to know that we are working to ensure that the educational needs and well-being of our students are being met. We have been on a brief pause as schools closed, but things are changing this month, which we highlight in this report.

Schools in Tanzania were closed when the very first case of COVID-19 was detected in Tanzania. All large gatherings were banned – weddings, funerals, sporting events, concerts, etc. We were initially quite impressed by Tanzania’s swift response, however, things took a surprising turn when President Magafuli began to deny the severity of the situation and urged citizens to go to their mosques and churches to “pray away” the virus, putting thousands in harm’s way. He opened the country to international flights in May and on June 1st, he returned all students to universities and high schools.

So what is the status of the young men in our program?

Dibeit, Tumsifu, and Saidi were set to graduate this past May. Their studies were put on hold in March and they each returned home to their families in the Kigoma region. They returned to university on June 1st and are continuing their studies with the hope of completing in Fall 2020.

Simoni, George and Ezra began their first year of university in Fall 2019 and also returned home in March. They returned to their respective universities to continue their first year and are hoping to finish strong - and stay healthy! They have reported that the universities are well-equipped with washing stations and that students are wearing masks and abiding by distancing practices.

Our Education Director, Madaga is also back in school pursuing his PhD in Curriculum Design at Mwenge Catholic University. He shared video of the washing stations and signage that was installed at the university to keep students safe. He attests to the measures universities are taking to keep their faculty, staff and students well.

We also have a cohort of young men beginning or continuing with high school and certificate programs. Mayani and Hamisi are beginning Form 6 this year at Monyovozi and Kinondoni High Schools respectively. Lameck, Maliki, Yohana, and Anzaruni will begin their first year (Form 5) of High School in July. They are attending Kahororo, Kigoma, Kilimanjaro, and Lufilyo High Schools respectively.

A few of our students are pursuing professional certificates in junior colleges. Sospeta, “The General” begins a program in Business and Management in the bustling coastal city of Dar es Salaam. Felisiano is studying Record Management within a finance program. Finally, Elias is pursuing a certificate in Business Administration. Both Felisiano and Elias will be studying in the capital city of Dodoma. 

As a professor at a large U.S. university, I (Rai Farrelly) am watching the situation unfold here. There are plans in place for us to return to campus in the fall, but there are concerns, and even dissent among faculty (which was discussed in this piece in the Washington Post). Things could change – especially in light of a recent outbreak among students at our university, but most signs point to a return to on campus learning. Tensions are high and there are many stakeholders to consider when making these decisions. Only time will tell what decisions were the most appropriate as pandemic-responsive educational models unfold globally.

In all sectors of life, we are grappling with how to restore practices so that we can begin to resume teaching and learning, rebuild hard hit parts of our economies, and engage in the lives we left behind months ago. There is no way to know how this will shake out, and we can only hope for the best for our students as they begin their re-entry into the schools in Tanzania.  

Lucas and Madaga are putting together the invoice for the upcoming school year. We know it’s a difficult time to give, but we need you now as much as ever. Please consider making a contributionas we prepare to pay for our students’ next year of high school, vocational training, and university studies. The cost for Mayani and Hamisi is $250 each per year. Lameck, Maliki, Anzaruni, and Yohana will each need $300 per year. We are still awaiting the invoices from the training colleges for Elias, Felisiano, and Sospeta, but we anticipate an estimated $500-600 each per year. In addition, as needed, some of our funds may be re-directed to make sure all students have masks and access to healthcare as they return to school. 

Thank you for your support! We wish you and your family health and security in these uncertain times.

With Gratitude, 

Rai Farrelly
Lucas Lameck
Madaga Fadhili
The Project Wezesha Team

Jun 17, 2020

Going Back to School Amid a Pandemic

Girls Ed Students
Girls Ed Students

Dear Girls Ed Supporters, 

We hope this message finds you in good health with access to your loved ones. In these challenging times, the Board of Directors of Girls Ed wants you to know that we continue to work with our partners in Tanzania and Pakistan to ensure that the educational needs and well-being of our students are being met. We have been on a brief pause as schools closed, but things are changing this month, which we highlight in this report.

The first paragraph of an article from Global Citizen about the impact of COVID-19 on girls education is very unsettling:

“Girls in developing countries are so afraid of dying from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, that they are considering marrying and having children sooner, according to new reports.” 

Of course, we have been in touch with our partners in Tanzania throughout the pandemic. Schools in Tanzania were closed when the very first case of COVID-19 was detected in Tanzania. All large gatherings were banned – weddings, funerals, sporting events, concerts, etc. We were initially quite impressed by Tanzania’s swift response, however, things took a surprising turn when President Magafuli began to deny the severity of the situation and urged citizens to go to their mosques and churches to “pray away” the virus, putting thousands in harm’s way. He opened the country to international flights in May and on June 1st, he returned all students to universities and high schools.

This week, he announced that all primary and secondary students will return to school on June 29th. We’re upset about this decision and the harmful impact it will have on the many communities we work with and care for. While he says that everyone should proceed while abiding by the hygiene recommendations of health professionals, he seems to be failing to recognize that most students attending schools in remote villages are in class with as many as 90 other students. They will likely not have masks and obviously, social distancing when you sit in closely arranged desks in rows is next to impossible.  

Going back to the paragraph shared above – girls are afraid of dying of COVID-19. We wanted to know if our students were feeling the pressure to marry and start families now, to abandon their education amid the impact of the pandemic. Our in-country director, Lucas, spoke with some of our students as well as local teachers. 

We are delighted to hear that there is no pressure from families or communities for girls to stop attending school and marry or find work. The families are completely on board as mentors and support their daughters and sisters in their educational endeavors. A few of our students made the observation that although their parents had not been able to attend secondary school themselves, they still see education as an important and necessary tool to excel in life and do their best to guide and influence them.

During the early phase of the pandemic, students were not permitted to gather in groups for tuition (tutoring) sessions, but our students continued to study on their own. As many of our girls are from the five villages we’ve partnered with since 2009, they were able to meet in smaller groups to discuss their studies, often while doing domestic chores (gathering water, preparing meals, collecting firewood, etc.). 

As far as we know now, there are no changes to the end of the academic school year (set for October 2020), which means there will be a gap in learning and the academic content will likely still appear on national exams. The students and teachers have committed to doing all they can to make sure students are prepared to sit for their exams. Teachers and headmasters want them to succeed and are in their corner. At some schools, teachers have committed to provide additional preparation time to ensure the students succeed when the test time comes.

In his conversation with teachers at Amahoro, Kagongo, and Mungonya secondary schools, Lucas discovered that teachers are ready to go back. They miss working and miss their students. These schools, in compliance with government directives, have set up washing stations with sanitizer. They have been ordered to observe distancing practices. We can only hope the village schools are provided the resources needed to maintain these safe practices. Teachers said they will be incorporating the advice from the Ministry of Health into their classroom instruction to keep everyone safe and informed.

As a professor at a large U.S. university, I am watching the situation unfold here. There are plans in place for us to return to campus in the fall, but there are concerns, and even dissent among faculty (which was discussed in this piece in the Washington Post). Things could change – especially in light of a recent outbreak among students at our university, but most signs point to a return to on campus learning. Tensions are high and there are many stakeholders to consider when making these decisions. Only time will tell what decisions were the most appropriate as pandemic-responsive educational models unfold globally.

In all sectors of life, we are grappling with how to restore practices so that we can begin to resume teaching and learning, rebuild hard hit parts of our economies, and engage in the lives we left behind months ago. There is no way to know how this will shake out, and we can only hope for the best for our students as they begin their re-entry into the schools in Tanzania.  

Our partners at Project Wezesha are putting together the invoice for the upcoming school year. We know it’s a difficult time to give, but we need you now as much as ever. Please consider making a contribution as we prepare to pay for our students’ next year of high school, vocational training, and university studies. As needed, some of our funds may be re-directed to make sure all students have masks and access to healthcare as they return to school. 

Thank you for your support! We wish you and your family health and security in these uncertain times.

With gratitude,

Rai Farrelly
on behalf of the Girls Ed Team

info@girlsed.org
www.girlsed.org
www.Facebook.com/GirlsEd

 
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