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.
Jul 24, 2015

Amahoro Secondary School Update_July 2015

Meeting with Parents
Meeting with Parents

Dear Project Wezesha Supporters,

Since our big bash to open Amahoro Secondary School in January, school has been in full swing! The first term ended in May and the students enjoyed a summer break in June. Classes started back up in July. The teachers and villagers are thrilled about the school - parents never imagined they would have a secondary school right in the village.

Lucas met with some of the parents recently (see pictures) to discuss ways in which the parents can best support their children to be successful in school. Among the ideas they shared, parents are committed to making time after school for students to study. They are also going to make sure their children get up and out the door each day to arrive at classes on time. (You know how hard it can be to get teens out of bed! In Tanzania they're up with the roosters, but getting the sandals to the sand for the walk to school can be a challenge!)

The teachers are grateful for the opportunity to be teaching in such a lovely, tree-rich environment. There is always a breeze up at Amahoro and the views of the surrounding hills and forests of Gombe are stunning! But, most of the teachers are either staying with families in the village or commuting from town (not a short distance!). This set-up may ultimately result in disconent, unmotivated teachers or resignations. Our next initiative will be to work with the village and town governments to fast track the building of teachers' houses near the school.

In addition, we are planning to launch a campaign to help the school finish up its laboratories so that they have the mandatory labs and equipment to properly teach Chemistry, Biology, and Physics. Keep an eye out for information about those campaigns in a forthcoming update.

As part of the Girls Education International expansion into Tanzania, we have 15 girls studying at Amahoro Secondary School. Project Wezesha continues to support all students in our scholarship program by paying for additional support classes (what they refer to as 'tuition') throughout the year. In this way, our students can stay after school and work with teachers to really dig deep into the subjects that present them with the most challenges academically.

My next trip to Tanzania will be December, at which time I'll be identifying teachers who wish to be involved in a two-way teacher training program with volunteer student teachers from other countries. It will be an ambitious project, but it's the area through which I think we'll see the most impact on education. Walls and books only do so much - the teachers really create the learning opportunities and if they're not motivated, prepared, inspired, and supported then things continue - status quo. We prefer to move education forward to ensure that more of our students reach high school, college and beyond!

Thank you so much for all of your support!

Rai Farrelly and Lucas Lameck
Co-Founders, Project Wezesha

Brainstorming with Parents
Brainstorming with Parents
Jul 7, 2015

Summer 2015 Project Report

Dibeit and Tumsifu
Dibeit and Tumsifu

Dear Friends of Project Wezesha,

Greetings from Summer Time! We have a few updates to share with you.

We are very proud to announce that as of this week, our three young men - Dibeit, Tumsifu and Saidi found out which high schools they will be attending starting July 18th. School assignment is based on secondary school exit exams, and the fact that these three are going all over the country speaks to how well they did!

Dibeit was selected to attend Mahiwa High School in the Lindi Region of Tanzania. He will study a PCB combination - Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. Tumsifu was selected to attend Kibiti Secondary School in the coastal region just outside of Dar es Salaam. He too will take on the ambitious PCB combination. Both of them have goals of becoming doctors! We’re hoping they excel in their high school program so we can continue to help them pursue university studies.

Saidi was selected to attend Karatu Secondary School in Arusha - a lovely, cooler region of Tanzania that many know as the jumping off point for climbing Kilimanjaro or entering the Serengeti. He will study a HGE combination - History, Geography, and English. Saidi dreams of becoming a teacher in his future. He tried that role on for size recently when he was tutoring our other scholarship students during the winter break. We are also hoping that he’ll go on to a teachers’ college.

Our recent graduates, Hindu and Khadija, continue to do everything together. They had a job in Kasulu, but the commission nature of the work wasn’t proving very lucrative for them. They are in the process of shifting to Dar es Salaam to give their best shot in the capital.

It’s really amazing to see these young men and woman moving around the country with such confidence and excitement. They all come from Kiganza village, with the exception of Tumsifu who comes from Kagongo village. Both villages, nonetheless, are very small. The majority of people don’t get to attend secondary school; there is no electricity in either village - with the exception of a few homes or shops that have cleverly harnessed solar power or gas-powered generators. Electricity is coming, however. There are power lines slowly making their way from Kigoma town, through Mwandiga and beyond to the villages with which we work.

Some of the challenges we still face as an organization are worth sharing with you. First of all, this program is still run solely by Lucas Lameck and me. Lucas has the responsibility of paying school fees for many children spread throughout various villages and schools - within and outside the Kigoma region. He does most of the travel by foot, which can be very exhausting during the period in which fees are due.

Fortunately, Tanzania is ahead of the game in terms of people being able to wire money through their mobile phones - so reaching the schools in other regions is not a problem. We still have secondary students studying in Kibondo, Dar, and Lugufu. Of course, even though we can send fees via mobile, Lucas still goes above and beyond to meet headmasters at our students’ schools.

In March, he traveled to Kibondo and Lugufu to uncover the students’ needs and challenges and to share those concerns with the headmaster. Among the main issues are the teachers’ English language proficiency and lack of access to textbooks. The students’ own lower proficiency still makes studying in English a challenge. Additionally, most students walk long distances to school - up to an hour each way. Lucas shared that he encouraged the students to study hard and continue to pursue their dreams. They are all well aware that this work is difficult and it requires that they dedicate themselves as much as they can to their studies.

In April, Lucas also met with our students’ parents. They all expressed their joy at the support they are receiving from Project Wezesha and Girls Education International. They are happy the program is moving forward and some even said that the opportunity is a ‘savior’ for their children and their families. Lucas encouraged the parents to make sure their children get out the door on time to make their first classes. He also urged them to carve some time in the day after school for the students to study. Lucas encourages the parents by reminding them that without education, the community will not have doctors, nurses, pilots, and engineers. Lucas is always good for a motivational speech!

During June, school is out of session and all of our students were given financial support to secure tutoring. These extra sessions serve to review what they covered during the previous term, and to prepare for what’s to come. They all value these sessions so much and say that in large part, this is what keeps their heads above water. Project Wezesha also purchased many textbooks for the students to share. They have texts to support their study of all subjects: chemistry, physics, math, English, civics, biology, and more!

Lucas reported that many of our scholarship students in secondary school are doing very well. We have several A and B level students! Simoni is one example - his teacher shared that he is the top of his Form Three class at Kagongo Secondary. His teachers say he is very bright and they are happy to have him in class.

Lucas is working on his next manager report and will have additional details on students’ scores and general well being! As for myself, after two years as an Assistant Professor at the American University of Armenia, I am moving home to the USA to take a tenure track position at St. Michael’s College in Burlington, Vermont! I’m hoping that this move will help me establish valuable connections for outreach and fundraising. I’m also hoping to involve some of my future MA TESOL students in teacher exchanges with Tanzanian counterparts - mutual learning for increased educational opportunities in Mgaraganza, Kagongo, Kigalie, Kalalangabo, and Mtanga - our primary village partners!

We’ll share more very soon!

Thanks for your ongoing support and continued investment in these young people’s lives!

Sincerely,

Rai Farrelly and Lucas Lameck
Co-Founders, Project Wezesha

Hindu, Rai, and Khadija - January 2015
Hindu, Rai, and Khadija - January 2015
Simoni - Top of his Class!
Simoni - Top of his Class!
Jun 15, 2015

Spring 2015 Update

Self-growth session at Maira school
Self-growth session at Maira school

Greetings, Friends -

Our program concluded for the 2014-2015 academic year, and progress so far has been excellent. Only 2 of the 101 total girls enrolled at the beginning of the year dropped out, and initial results from academic testing has been good. Bedari, our partner in Pakistan, conducted ongoing monitoring and meetings with parents and teachers.

In addition, and in spite of many logistical challenges during the winter months, Bedari conducted a number of self-growth classes for the students. Because these students come from many age groups, Bedari conducts appropriate sessions on a variety of topics of interest to girls and young women. Highlights from the first year are below:

Number of beneficiaries increased from 71 to 101:
As many parents opted to share the cost of education of their daughters, Bedari was left with surplus funds. It made an analysis of the cost, and after consultation with parents, staff, and Girls Ed, decided to include another 30 girls to the program. The program was extended to another village Dharyala Kahoon.

Results Announced:
Most of the girls went to their respective schools regularly. Annual exams were held for lower classes – from 6th to 10th during initial 6 months. The results for 6th, 7th, and 8th have been announced. All the girls studying under this project have successfully cleared their exams and have been promoted to the next classes. Result for the 9th and 10th is awaited. Exams for classes 11th to 14th would be held later between April and June 2015.

Three girls promoted from 6th to 8th class:
Three girls have been promoted from 6th to 8th class. These girls were studying in 8th class when they dropped out of school, but did not have certificates or any other proof. Initially, the school management did not agree to put them back in 8th class. However, they had promised to promote them to next classes if the girls performed well. This highly motivated the girls to perform well to get back to the class where they had left. They were really happy about this development.

Two girls dropped out:
Two girls have dropped out. They will be replaced as the new academic year begins.

Self-Growth Sessions Held:
Bedari organized 20 self-growth sessions for the girls – 5 in each village. On average, each session was attended by 25 girls. The subjects discussed in these sessions were:

  • Communication Skills
  • Sexual and reproductive health 
  • Gender Based Violence/Gender Discrimination
  • Women related laws in Pakistan

Achievements:

  • The number of girls studying under this project has been increased from 71 to 101. 
  • All the 32 girls, whose results have been announced, have passed their exams, and have been promoted to the next classes. 
  • Three girls have been promoted from 6th to 8th class
  • 20 self-growth training sessions held

 

We're very excited about the early success of this expanded program, and are very thankful for your support. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me on smurchie@gmail.com. 

Sincerely,

Steve

Self-growth session at Tharchak school
Self-growth session at Tharchak school
 

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