Students Together at Kichangachui School
Dear Girls Education International Supporters,
Spring Greetings to all of you! I hope wherever you are, there are some flowers to enjoy.
Spring is a time of new birth, new beginnings, fresh starts and that's exactly what many of our students are looking forward to right now. As you know, all of our Form 4 students sat for their national examinations in October. In February we got the results of their exams and found out which of them qualified to go on to high school and which would have the chance to pursue further education through the Vocation and Education Training Authority (VETA). Before the big reveal, let's take a moment to remember our journey thus far.
With our partner, Project Wezesha, we have been supporting girls in Tanzania who are studying in secondary school (Forms 1-4). We implemented a new model with Girls Ed (different from the existing model with Project Wezesha); instead of selecting the most vulnerable children (MVC) in our partner villages, we decided to invest in the top performing Standard 7 students from various primary schools. We thought that if we selected students who were already on a path toward success, the likelihood of seeing more girls complete secondary school would be higher.
Interestingly, we still saw some of the trends we had previously identified. Many of our boys (with Project Wezesha) were performing well. But many of the girls were not succeeding in secondary school. There were many reasoms for this including pressures at home, pressures from boys (for sex, marriage), gender bias in the classroom, and lack of confidence in classes where they sometimes face an 80 to 5 ratio of boys to girls.
Many of the girls we selected failed the national exams that follow primary school - blocking their path to secondary school; some failed out after Form 1 or 2 due to insufficient English proficiency for studies in secondary school; and, some of the girls became pregnant or dropped out due to family/home responsibilities.
Lucas, Madaga and I puzzled over this a lot. As the co-founder of Project Wezesha and Executive Director of Girls Ed, I was very concerned that we weren't accomplishing our goals -- targeting our mission. Were we failing the students and their families? Were we disappointing our donors?
After much brainstorming and various intervention attempts (buying textbooks, providing after school tutoring), we had the idea of academic study camps - which you all know a lot about if you've been reading our updates! These camps were the game changers that we needed!
Our recent Form 4 graduates have each attended 3-4 camps. Complete with daily instruction in English for a full month with a rigorous timetable, boarding on site, and practice with mock examinations -- the study camps gave our students the boost they needed to have confidence and necessary knowledge going into the national examinations. So what was the result??
While not all students passed the examinations, we did see a record this year! EIGHT students passed with a Division II or III finish, securing their spot in a government high school. Woot!!
Remence, Sarafina, and Saidati passed their national exams and completed in Division II, which is excellent! In addition to performing at the top of their classes, they have a wider range of choices for which subjects they can specialize in during high school.
Hekima, Adija, Sania, Mariselina, and Sajida passed their national exams and completed in Division III, which is also very good! They also have options for their academic focus.
The remaining students finished in Division IV, which does not guarantee a spot in public high school. However, if students receive a C in 3 courses, they do qualify for private high school. Those students from our cohort are Secilia and Bernadeta. In addition, Furaha performed well enough in science subjects to qualify for a nursing program.
Unfortunately, private high school and certificate programs are very expensive. Our girls have the choice of attending public high school or a vocational training program. All students who were not admitted to high school will be given the choice to attend VETA for one year. If they demonstrate exceptional dedication to their studies, we will consider a request for support to attend private high school or a certificate program down the road -- contingent on support from donors. (Public high school and VETA cost $300/$333 per year respectively. Private high school and certificate programs cost $1200-1500 per year!).
The remaining students will be given the opportunity to attend VETA. Please see this student tracking document with information about all of our girls -- those in current certificate and vocational programs, those in high school, and those entering programs in Fall 2019. You can see what some of their hopes, dreams and goals are. We are thrilled for those who are on their path and will be able to pursue their dreams. We are also hopeful that those who are going to attend VETA will excel so that they can pursue additional professional development in the future.
Our focus now will shift to supporting these recent Form 4 graduates in their post-secondary education experiences. We have one more study camp to run in June 2019, but then we will stop camps until we see some of this cohort graduate high school & VETA, at which time we will start over with a new cohort of Form 1 students who we will see through 4 years of camps until they take exams -- and the cycle continues!
Thank you for all of your support thus far. Please stay with us as we move with these young women into the next phase of their journey. You can donate to our new campaign by clicking here. We hope you are excited as we are to see what the next couple of years brings. We're hoping to see them graduate high school with options to go to university or complete programs at VETA with options to open businesses, enter certificate programs and/or find jobs to sustain themeselves and their familes.
Asante sana & Thank you very much for all of your support. We all have a lot to celebrate this Spring! Stay tuned on our new project site for updates.
Executive Director of Girls Education International
Selfie with the Students
Sarafina - Smiling while discussing High School!