Known as Bright English Medium School (k-7), this private school educates local children in English, which is the language of advanced education in Tanzania. In fact, grade or Level 7 and above is only taught in English. So, although government schools exist for K-7 they are taught in Swahili with minimal English language classes - effectively eliminating the chance for further education.
The school was founded in 2009 by Barakara and Julianna Eliud Kilinga. Prior to opening the school they ran an NGO called MACAO whose mission was to educate the local Maasai in HIV prevention and to encourage positive environmental practices and land management. Most adhere to their traditional lifestyles as pastoralists. Yet, education is becoming increasingly valued. Among the Maasai, severe poverty is the norm. The Tanzanians are a proud, loving and kind people. Sadly, they are subject to adverse circumstances and some children are orphaned because of family illness, including AIDS, and/or abandoned because of poverty. The school, which is located in the rural Maasai area of Loliondo, in northern Tanzania, began with 40 orphans and within one year grew to 120. At that time it functioned as an informal pre-school. After 3 years the school expanded to grade one and since then, they have added a grade every year. The school now serves 300 children in pre-school through grade 7.
From 2009 to 2014 the children were taught and housed at the rental residence of Baraka and Julianna where various out buildings provided classrooms and dormitories. With the help of volunteers, land for the school was purchased and classrooms erected at the current site. The children’s housing was moved to the school following a government mandate. Two of the 8 rooms were used as classrooms during the day and transformed into temporary dormitories during the evening. Currently the government has mandated that new dormitories be built to specific dimensions. This must be done in a timely fashion.
The school employs 18 full time licensed teachers who receive a monthly salary of $100 to $250 USD. In addition there are 9 support staff, to include a full time cook and dormitory supervisors, who receive a monthly salary of $70 to $100 USD per month. Baraka and Julianna generously provide transportation for teachers and students who live in the local area, either by van or school bus.
Students receive education in Science, Math, English, Swahili and Social Studies to include Geography, Civics and History. All classes are taught in English. There is some bilingual education for those students who are transfer students from the government schools with little English proficiency. Small group classes are held in personal hygiene, and sex education. Here students are encouraged to confront critical social issues, such as STD’s, HIV transmission and prevention, unwanted pregnancy and female genital mutilation (circumcision) in small informal classes. These topics are vital to the children’s well being. Pregnancy results in the termination of education. These difficult topics are frequently avoided in their home communities, due to lack of knowledge.
In September of this year (2019) the 3rd Level 7 class will take the National Exams to qualify for Secondary School. The school proudly reports a 100% acceptance rate for secondary school. Students who fail this exam cannot continue their education, thus, special emphasis is put on additional study time during the holiday months when the school remains open.
Several years ago, the school began collecting fees for those who could pay in order to provide funding for necessary expenses. Typically, the children who pay fees are day commuters from close by neighbouring communities. Of the 300 students, most come from Maasai villages and live in the dormitories. Half pay nothing and half pay very little. Many of the Maasai live up to 112km (70 miles) away which can take 4-6 hrs by vehicle because rural roads are poorly maintained. Moreover, because they adhere to a traditional life style, most Maasai only travel by foot. Thus, housing these students is an absolute necessity. The school provides for medical care for all the students, including those who are HIV+.
Ground has been broken for the new dormitories and trenches are now being dug to support the building. The school is currently seeking financial contributions to continue the project and buy the necessary materials.
It is estimated that the cost of the new dormitory that will house 100 students, build to government standards, will be $19,494 USD. This is the breakdown of costs at an exchange rate of $1 USD= 2,299 TZS
300 bags of cement @ 22,000 ea = 6,600,000 TZS (Tanzanian Shillings) = $2,870 US
5 Tons of sand (20 Lorries) @ 160,000 ea = 3,200,000 TZS (Tanzanian Shillings) = $1,391 USD
5 Tons of aggregate (15 Lorries) @ 140,000 ea = 2,100,000 TZS (Tanzanian Shillings) = $913 USD
4 Tons of Moraine (30 Lorries) @ 90,000 ea = 2,700,000 TZS (Tanzanian Shillings) = $1,174 USD
8mm iron Rebar, 108 @ 16,000 ea = 1728 TZS (Tanzanian Shillings) = $751 USD
12 mm iron bar, 89 @ 24,000 TZS (Tanzanian Shillings) = $929 USD
Total iron = $1,680 USD
7000 bricks @ 2,500 = 17,500,000 TZS (Tanzanian Shillings) = $7,612 USD
Labor = 5,000,000 = $2,174 USD
Total estimated cost $19,494 USD
School fees only cover a fraction of the costs involved in running the school. There is no “Rainy Day Fund”, available for this project. It will be completely funded by donations. The school has a wonderful reputation among the volunteer community. The kindness of Baraka and Julianna has a created a loving environment where both volunteers and the children flourish. Please take some time to consider this request. What amounts to an almost insignificant amount of money for most of us is a substantial amount for most Tanzanians. For example, the cost of one Fast Food meal for one child in the USA will feed a child at the school 3 meals for an entire 3 weeks. One meal cost 0.16 cents and three meals is less than 50 cents USD.
The cost has been broken down, so you can imagine what your contribution will provide. For example, a $100 contribution will buy about 100 bricks; a $10 contribution will buy a bag of cement. Again, please consider the great wealth we have compared to the poverty these children live in, and the great work this organization does in the service of eradicating poverty through education, while respecting and honouring the local culture.