Monthly Archives: February 2017

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear (We Didn’t)

The majority of articles, posts, and commentary about Government Schools in Tanzania is that they are sub-standard.  A great deal is written about the need for private schools to offer a quality education.  I believe what I read, and when I first came to Tanzania, helped to fund a private preschool and day care.  Outside the iron gates of the school was a village of hopelessness:  young people milling around, women in little shops trying to sell vegetables and other basics, and wild dogs foraging around for whatever they could fill their stomachs with.  Something was wrong.  What was the purpose of life for the young kids who had nothing to do all day?  What talent was going unnoticed and who cared?  These thoughts kept eating away at me.  What should be done?   Build a Private School?  Donate to an Ex-Pat School?   None of these seemed like the right solution.  In the current business world, scaleability is a criteria for growth – can we build this (whatever it is) and can it be scaled as business growth places new demands on the company? We used this thinking when it came to the idea of educating secondary and high school students in the Government system.  Granted, these schools are substandard in appearance and function – class sized of 80 to 1 teacher, kids without books or recreational equipment, poorly equipped classrooms, and disenchanted teachers who are paid very little.  Eventually they become as disenfranchised as many of the students in their charge.  What began as a gamble – to choose the smartest kids in the highest ranked Government Schools in Arusha and surrounding villages, and get them through high school, was just that.    And it is working Better than we thought it could. Eighteen Form IV Scholars are on their way to high school.  They passed with Merit and Distinction and are elated to be on their way.  In the break between now and when high school starts, they are students at a computer school, learning their way around the full Microsoft Suite.  The goal:  job ready youth who are out to help grow the infrastructure in this young country that needs so much, yet hold great promise.  For a a relatively small $300.00 per year per student, our donors have given the Serengeti Scholars, pride, self-respect, and improved academic performance.  We are ready to grow, and find the means to roll out the Serengeti Scholars Project beyond Northern Tanzania.