The girls just finished their first trimester at the Secondary School of Magude. I have good news to report: the girl's average grades were higher than the class averages in every class! This is a significant achievement for the girls, especially those from Motaze, as the farther primary schools are away from Magude town, the less rigor they typically have due to a shortage of teachers in those areas.
The girls' backgrounds gave them a significant disadvantage over other students: difficulty with Portuguese. Back in their hometowns, Portuguese is used very little in everyday life and taught at a slow pace at school. When the girls first came to Magude, they faced the challenge of improving their Portuguese and using it both inside and outside the classrooms. But, through hard work and by working together, the girls have overcome this challenge! Their grades in Portuguese are significantly above the class average.
I do have a bit of sad news to report: two of the 20 girls have left the program. The brothers of one of the girls demanded that she stop school and come and live back home. The other came to the program feeling ill, and left for home shortly after.
This highlights the difficulty we face in our selection process: we come across girls who are extremely eager to continue studying whose families are not fully supportive of this and may change their minds. Other girls may have a great desire to continue school but may not be able to due to health conditions present before starting the program.
The experience has given us much information to fine-tune our selection process for the coming year. Age has been a significant factor in students' success: those 14 and under have performed significantly better overall than those who are 15. Also, in order to find the girls who are both most in need of the scholarship and who are most likely to be able to complete the program, we plan to add a family interview component as well as several additional health questions to next year's interview process.
The rest of the girls are well and are enjoying living, working, and studying together. I recently sat down with each of them one on one, and almost every one of them expressed admiration for their activities teacher and role model, Mariana Manhiqui. I was surprised that the girls had no complaints other than one of the lights in the living room had fused.
The girls have started their second semester this week after two weeks vacation at home with their families. I'm looking forward to seeing them tomorrow and hearing about their time at home.