Aurelia in front of one of her school buses
Opportunity's EduFinance program addresses barriers to quality education by fostering change in the schools and communities we serve around the world. Since 2008, this program has delivered 151,861 loans valuing $81 million to improve schools and get kids in the classroom. Overall, Opportunity has reached 1.9 million children and provided them with access to quality education in their own communities. In 2016 alone, there was an 82% growth in School Improvement loans in Tanzania to empower teachers and proprietors to grow their schools—teachers like Aurelia.
For 18 years, Aurelia worked at a commercial bank. She was let go at the age of 45 when the branch where she worked was closed, so eight years ago, she decided to open a small school. Even when she was a banker, she had a passion for teaching. She knew she was well-equipped with knowledge. In her words, "Why should I stay idle with the education I have? My parents paid for my school and I should use that." So, Aurelia started her own school, the Young Roses Pre and Primary School in Tanzania, with a goal of building one new classroom each year.
When she started working with Opportunity, she received loans to tackle larger construction projects like the second classroom block and the beautiful dining hall.
From her humble beginnings in 2007 with 9 students, the school has grown to a big school that employs 15 teachers and 12 support staff. They even have three school buses and a silo where they keep corn!
Despite her big complex, she cares so much more about the quality of education than the infrastructure. She says, "I don't mind much about the buildings. I mind about the quality of education."
One of Aurelia's favorite phrases is "old is gold." She has found that sometimes older teachers with more experience are much better suited to impart knowledge to her students. Her head teacher is in his 70s, and many of her teachers are older. All of them have been trained at teachers colleges. Because of the quality of education at Young Roses, Aurelia has a pile of applications - she says there are a LOT of university students looking for employment.
School fees are always a challenge for Young Roses. Parents struggle to pay a full lump sum at once, so Aurelia began to partner with Opportunity to offer school fee loans to the students' families. Even with that option, though, students often jump from school to school, leaving unpaid balances at each.
When Aurelia thinks about the future, her primary goal is to find a new space. There is no more room to grow at the current location, so they need more space. They will also need money for new school construction. Wisely, Aurelia knows that it is risky to build a school on a loan because you have no idea how many people will show up. And Aurelia is so proud that she regularly pays her loans. She says, "I've never missed a month. I don't want to disappoint myself, and I don't want to disappoint people who have supported me."
Although Aurelia knows that she will undoubtedly face challenges in the future, she is confident that she will be able to expand her school, and she also dreams of one day opening a secondary school to provide children with the next stepping stone in their education.
A student at Young Roses Pre and Primary School