Minchinhampton - Nkokoto Link - March 2019
Alison Kennedy visited Nkokoto from Feb 5th. She has just arrived home, with the sandy soil still in her boots! Each month we will highlight different aspects of the trip, starting with our top priority: Education.
Primary school in Nkokoto runs Standard I to VII classes. Children are legally required to complete 7 years of education. They start school at any age but often do so aged 5. Tuition is paid by the government. Last year the Link provided 3 million Tsh (£1000) of equipment and helped refurbish the toilets. Alison visited the school, and the headmaster requested further support which is to be discussed by the Committee.
Secondary School in Vumilia: At the end of Standard VII students take the Primary School Leaving Examination and children who pass are eligible to attend 4 years of government funded Secondary School. This school year started in January, with 49 new students from Nkokoto.
The Link gives bikes to all 49 students. It is a long way to walk every day and the girls are safer if they do not accept a lift, which may result in an attack. The school day finished whilst Alison was there and all 49 bikes from this year's intake were lined up to leave together. Alison also tried a bike - which greatly concerned the unfortunate girl that she borrowed it from!
Sponsors: 8 new students a year (32 in total). Each year all sponsored chil- dren receive new uniforms, books and stationary. Alison was at school when the correctly sized uniform and shoes were given out in individual parcels. One was so keen to get rid of her old uniform that she got the other girls to shelter her and she changed into her new skirt right there and then.
Folk Development College (FDC) in Urambo: Children who do not pass the Standard VII exam can start a 2 year vocational course. They learn compu- ting and communication skills to equip them for a working life then choose a trade; tailoring, electrics, motor mechanics, etc. Alison stayed at the FDC in a teacher's house for the week: no running water and cooking over a fire, but great company from the staff. The government is investing in vocational col- leges and gave a grant of 600 million Tsh(£200,000) to refurbish all student accommodation and classrooms.
The Link supports new 6 students a year (12 in total); tuition fees, board and lodgings are 310,000 Tsh (£103) each year. Graduates are given a tool kit so that they can find a job in their chosen trade. Alison met 3 graduates, 7 students and some of their fathers who told her how critical these tool kits are, so we have some work to do on that.
Advanced Level, various locations for residential 2 year courses: When stu- dents complete Form 4 at Secondary school, they take the Certificate of Secondary Education Examination. Selected students may attend Advanced Level - Forms 5 and 6.
The Link has sponsored 2 new students for the last 2 years (4 in total) by paying tuition fees, board and lodgings. Costs vary by school. Alison re- ceived a request to support 3 students who have passed the exam this year and are waiting to see which school they are allocated to.
Education is a priority for the Link. We are keen to give the students every opportunity to advance as far as they want to. We currently support the Pri- mary School, sponsor 48 students, have a record number qualifying for Ad- vanced Level and we give bikes to all Secondary students from Nkokoto even if they are not sponsored. The Headmaster at Vumilia commented that this focus helps Nkokoto children understand how important education is and they are clearly more successful as a result.
Thanks to you who sponsor the children; you are making a great difference to their lives.
Rod Harris Chairman (with help from Alison Kennedy)