Minchinhampton - Nkokoto Link - December 2018
The school year is coming to an end (the school year in Tanzania is January to December – much more sensible than the UK system!) – and the fourth year students that the Link has sponsored – Julius, Senga, Yona, Dekasi, Bertha, Edina, Irene and Judith - will be leaving Vumilia Secondary School.
Hopefully, some may move on to higher education to complete their A levels. I will contact the sponsors of these eight students to ask whether the sponsorship can be transferred to one of the new year 1 students who will move from Nkokoto Primary School to Vumilia Secondary School in January.
The village primary school has won an award for its standard of education but the Link is very aware that statistics for Tanzania primary education are not always good. Although public spending on education has increased, this has really only kept pace with the increases in pupil numbers in schools. Remember that 48% of the Tanzanian population is under 18.
Teacher absenteeism is a serious challenge. It is reported that the average teacher in Tanzania spends two and a half hours teaching when their contract is for six hours a day. I am told that the Government is tightening up the regulations for teachers’ contracts and qualifications, so this might improve sooner than later.
On leaving primary school at Standard 7 (13 years old), around three out of ten pupils are unable to demonstrate competence in the 8 year olds’ Standard 2 curriculum; this is particularly poor in maths where less than half the leavers are able to complete the Standard 2 maths curriculum. Earlier this year, the Link paid for the school to purchase badly needed teaching materials, such as atlases and text books, and also covered the cost of a computer, printer and photocopier for the school office in the hope that this will help enhance the education the children receive.
The three second year students that the Link has sponsored at the Folk Development College in Urambo - regrettably, three of the six who started in January 2017 left the course before the two years have been completed - will also finish their course and the Link will give them their tool kit with the hope that they will use it to earn a living.
The mechanics will receive a tool box with engineering tools; those who have completed the tailoring course will receive a sewing machine plus a quantity of material, cottons, threads, etc. We trust that they will gain employment with their newly learnt skills, if not in the Urambo District, perhaps elsewhere in Tanzania.
One of the requests I have had from the Headteacher and teachers at both Nkokoto School and Vumilia School is for the Link to finance a scholarship for them in the UK to further their teaching skills and knowledge. Clearly, the cost of such scholarships together with travel and accommodation costs is far beyond the Link’s remit and role as a small local charity, and of course the question then asked is “Will they then return to Nkokoto having experienced the UK’s educational system?” I really don’t know.
The Link Committee would like to wish everyone a very happy Christmas and if you are overwhelmed with the mass of charity appeals that we all receive at this time of the year, don’t forget the Minchinhampton Nkokoto Link!!