“Educating girls is a sure way to raise economic productivity, lower child and maternal mortality, improve nutritional status and health, reduce poverty, and eliminate HIV/AIDS and other diseases.”
TEMBO’s commitment to secondary school education is at the heart of our mission. In early January of each year the local Parents Committee considers requests for sponsorship of girls living in Longido and Kimokouwa. Determining how to provide the best quality education for girls continues to be a challenge we face.
In 2013, Canadian donors are sponsoring 57 girls in 10 different secondary schools.The majority of TEMBO sponsored girls attend government schools while a few attend private school.There are a number of reasons why some girls cannot attend government schools. For instance, if a girl fails to pass the national exam at the end of primary school she may not attend; or if a girl becomes pregnant she may not attend. Since some factors are beyond a girl’s control TEMBO consults with school officials and parents to see if exceptions should be made. For example, pregnancy at an early age is a common cultural occurrence among Maasai girls. TEMBO, and other NGO’s in the village, encourage these girls to return to school once their babies are born, since education will result in better care for their children in the present and lower birth rates in the future. However, these girls must go to private schools.
Tuition fees alone for government school are about $250.00 per girl per year. In a private school these same fees run as high as $1000.00 per year. The cost of uniforms, shoes, food, monthly toiletry items, books, school and exam fees, and clinic fees are over and above this.
Since 2004 the number of girls considered for vocational training has increased significantly. In 2013, 15 girls were sponsored by TEMBO to attend vocational training programs ranging in length from 1 to 3 years. Girls who left primary school or secondary school prior to graduating are considered for sponsorship should they be interested in programs such as hotel management, tour guide training, community development or tailoring.
Having completed their vocational training, graduates often look for employment in the local community. TEMBO’s Library Coordinator,Leah Kisambi, is a graduate of the Community Development program and Nusra Hossein, Head Chef at the TEMBO Guesthouse, is a Hotel Management graduate.
TEMBO’s education program also includes preparing new teachers.As of January 2013, two girls are studying to be primary school teachers and another to be a Montessori School teacher. Since 2004, TEMBO has sponsored more than 20 young women to become teachers. Most graduates find work in rural areas where class size can be as high as 125 students at the primary level.
The TEMBO English Camp (TEC) is a program for sponsored girls attending secondary school. Offered to girls during their long break from school (June-July) TEC seeks to provide girls age 13-17 with a positive and supportive English-language learning environment where the girls can develop basic language skills required for their school studies. In addition, the program works to foster confidence and self –esteem, everyday life skills and healthy lifestyle choices.
Over a course of three weeks, the program provides a safe and healthy living environment for the participants. The girls stay in a hostel owned and operated by a community group in Longido. Here they can enjoy the camaraderie of sharing a room with friends, exchanging clothes, talking and then whispering as night falls, and just being ‘girls’. There is a small outdoor cooking area at the back of the hostel where meals can be prepared and then served in the communal hall. Girls take responsibility for housekeeping duties and are encouraged to take care of their rooms and shared communal spaces.
The program was first offered in 2010 to 33 girls in Form 1 and 2. Given the success of the pilot program, TEMBO Trust decided to include TEC as part of its ongoing programming and and expand the scope to include girls in Form 3. Since then, the program has been offered on an annual basis with more than 40 girls participating.
Mary Laiser, a local Maasai woman, is TEMBO’s Community Facilitator. Mary provides information that is both practical and important to the work TEMBO is doing. It is information that is not included in the school curriculum.
TEMBO has helped Mary develop lesson plans around a series of books put out by the United Nations. This series, The Sara Club, is designed to teach girls to know their rights, value education, be pro-active, have good relationships with boys, and avoid dangers such as FGM (female genital mutilation) and HIV/AIDS. The books were written with girls in mind but Mary has adapted the content to include information important to boys, too, since they have requested to be part of the weekly classes. Mary offers these classes four days a week at both the primary and secondary school level in Longido and Kimokouwa.
Mary believes it is imperative that the adults know what she is teaching the children. She conducts sessions with the parents of TEMBO sponsored students and reaches more families through the women in the micro-finance groups. Mary uses every opportunity to include the village and tribal leaders in her classes.