by Marian Roks
During a 2005 trip to Tanzania, Jo and I made a presentation to the staff at Longido Secondary School describing TEMBO’s Educational Sponsorship Program. Specific references were made to Kimokouwa Primary School since it is one of the schools from which students are eligible for sponsorship. Following the formal input, Mr. Jackson, then the teacher responsible for student sponsorships at Longido Secondary School spoke to us. He told us that there was a second year student (Form II) from Kimokouwa whose family was too poor to pay her tuition and school fees. He explained that the school was covering her expenses because she scored so high on the Tanzanian National Exams. Not only is passing the exams a prerequisite to enter high school, but a student’s marks must be in the top 5% in the country.
“Is her name Joyce?” I asked.
“Yes.” he replied. “Do you know her?”
“Yes.” I answered. A flood of memories passed through me.
Joyce was the student who volunteered all the answers, in perfect English, when I taught for a week at Kimokouwa Primary School during my visit two years earlier. She’s the one who said, “Don’t worry,” when a little pre-school child walked into the class in the middle of my Geography lesson. Joyce just moved over on the school bench and made room for the little child to nestle in beside her. Joyce is also the one who, at the end of a school day, called out to me from the glassless window, “Bring some gum tomorrow – okay?” And during the last morning of my visit in 2003, Joyce is the one I handed an English novel, asking her to read it and write me a review. I told her I would be back later to check it. No, I really wasn’t surprised to hear that Joyce had done so well on the national exams.
I immediately turned to Jo and said, “TEMBO needs to sponsor Joyce. I’ll explain later.” Jo nodded in agreement.
After the sponsorship details were worked out with Mr. Jackson, he called Joyce to the office. She arrived in the doorway looking quite shy – until she saw me. She broke into a smile. She, too, had remembered me from that previous visit. Mr. Jackson explained to Joyce that TEMBO would start to pay for her tuition and school fees. As I reached out to hug her, she started to cry. And as I held her, I could feel her heart pounding against my chest. She was so happy and excited to know that she would be able to stay in school and complete her secondary school education. Joyce was overcome with joy, and so was I.
Over the years we have kept in close contact with Joyce and followed her progress. Not surprisingly, she has remained at the top of her class. In 2010, Joyce becomes the first TEMBO-sponsored girl to graduate from “A Levels”. What next? Her Dream – Joyce has always wanted to study Journalism at University. Will she make it? If her past determination is any example, there is nothing that will hold Joyce back from achieving what she has set her heart on doing.
Education and Culture
by Jo Marchant
Penina invited Mary and Kathryn, two TEMBO supporters who were visiting our project area, to come to her boma in Kimokouwa. This is the typical home for traditional Maasai women in rural Tanzania.
We sat in a dark mud hut on seats made of sticks and covered with cow skins while Penina told us about her life.
Canadians will sometimes ask us if we will destroy the Maasai culture by providing education to the girls. After all, education does change people and open doors for them that were once closed. I put this question to Penina, a woman in her 30’s, whom TEMBO has known for many years. At the request of Penina and her father-in-law, Paulo, TEMBO is providing sponsorship for Penina’s daughter Naana, now in grade 10.
“I do not want my daughter to have the same kind of life I have,” Penina replied. “Naana will not lose her culture by going to school. She will have more choices.”
Though Penina and Paulo remain traditional Maasai they recognize that the world of the Maasai is changing. They represent a growing number of Maasai who want to prepare their children and grandchildren for the world that is at their doorstep. It is by being an educated woman that Naana will have the tools she needs to keep what is worth keeping in her culture while letting go of practices that no longer fit.
For the Love of Teaching
by Arlene McKechnie
Maria is one of the girls that TEMBO sponsored to attend Secondary School. Then she wanted to be a teacher, so we sponsored her at the Tanzanian equivalent of Teacher’s College.
Just after she had completed her education, we met Maria in the village. She was waiting to start her first teaching assignment in January in another village. She was quite shy, spoke to us very deferentially, and was just sort of hanging out…having her hair braided, painting her toenails blue. In many ways she was still a school girl.
We met Maria again about 6 months later, when she was home on a break. By this time, she had been teaching for three months. Maria had a new quiet confidence, a new intensity, an earnestness. She spoke to us about her school and some of the problems that she was facing. The most difficult problem was that the village where she was teaching had a serious outbreak of typhoid. Many people were sick, so they had to miss their work or their school. She wondered if we knew of anything that you could just put in the water to get rid of the typhoid. Boiling the water is just too expensive. You have to have fuel for the fire: sticks or kerosene.
When we asked her about her classes, her face lit up. She was clearly delighted to tell us about her teaching in the primary school in the village. She told us that she teaches Swahili, Civics and English: Swahili to a Standard (Grade) 3 class of 77 students, Civics to a Standard (Grade) 5 class of 75 students, and English to a Standard (Grade) 6 classes of 117 students.
We have seen these sorts of classrooms in other schools, such as those in Kimokouwa and Ketumbeine. Each desk is a small table and bench, designed for 1 student, but with 3 or 4 students to a desk. The kids each have a 10-cent notebook and a pencil stub, and the teacher has the only textbook in the room. The amazing thing is, the kids are all quiet and attentive. They want to go to school. They want to get an education. They seem to know it is their chance for a better life. But 117 students! They can’t all be learning at the same pace, and there is simply no opportunity for a one-on-one time. One wonders at the quality of the education they are receiving.
Maria loves her job.