In 2011, Neema International began funding the Tuleeni Orphanage Extension Project in Kitandu Village, Uru.
While it was only a 20 minute drive from Rau (the location of the originally Tuleeni Orphanage), Uru was a MUCH poorer area, with zero access to any affordable quality education, especially for pre-primary schooling. Far too many children in Uru do not even step foot into a classroom or hold a pencil until they are AT LEAST 6 or 7 years old. Once they are 6 or 7, they are eligible to join a public primary school, which is funded by the government.
In 2001, the Tanzanian government eradicated primary school tuition fees as part of their move towards the Millennium Development Goal of Universal Primary Education. As a result, enrollment skyrocketed and the drastic increase in the quantity of students caused an appalling decrease in the quality of education and learning environment—-public school classrooms usually have a ratio of at least 50 students to one teacher, and only one book for every five to ten students. Additionally, corporal punishment is practiced in the vast majority of these classrooms, making it even more difficult for these children to learn.
Between the lack of early childhood education and the trauma and violence so many of these children are exposed to at a young age, these 6 and 7 year old children didn’t even stand a chance.
And statistics have shown just that… reports show that nearly 20% of students drop out before they complete primary school, and in 2013, of those who completed class 7, (the last year of primary school) only 33% of them went on to attend Secondary School— this left over 65% of the country’s children with no education after the age of 13 or 14 years old. These same children often go on to begin child bearing within a few years, and give birth to children, who like themselves, will most likely not be able to afford pre-primary schooling or private education, leaving them stuck in the same situation as their parents.
Getting a quality education AND having someone look out for you shouldn’t be dependent on the socio-economic status of the family that you were born into. It should be a child’s right to learn and play and get the chance to write their own story instead of falling into the cycle of poverty that came before them.
The new Tuleeni facility that we were constructing was huge and with all the Tuleeni Orphans enrolled in private schools outside off the village, the center would remain empty for the majority of the day, until the kids returned home from school each evening. So in June 2016, occupying the first floor of the Tuleeni Orphanage, Neema International opened The Academy, the first sponsor funded early childhood education center for children ages 2 to 7 years old in Uru.
We believe that by taking the most vulnerable children and putting them in THIS school we are helping to break the cycle. Here are the Academy, we have created a safe, patient, and caring environment where the children are free to be themselves, make mistakes, and grow. We have hired 15 compassionate Tanzanian teachers who work hard day in and day our to educate the 60 Academy students through art, music, technology and play.
They understand the importance of a child’s emotional, social, and academic foundations and how much positive childhood experiences can impact a child’s future. Most importantly,The Academy has a strict no corporal punishment policy and instead uses “time out” for discipline as well as “sticker charts” for positive reinforcement behavior management. Through lots of love and caring, the teachers are actively helping the children regain their trust in adults and form positive adult-child relationships. The school is a registered English Medium Private School, so the children will all be bilingual in English and Swahili.
The Academy is a sponsorship school, meaning that all students who attend the school attend for free because they will each be matched with an outside sponsor. The sponsorship price is $1200 which will supply this child with a full year of food, clothing, health insurance, and most importantly, a top notch education at The Academy where we are able to employ over 30 local individuals from Uru to help empower their own children and community.
Neema International has just purchased a new adjacent plot of land so we can expand the pre-primary school and add on a Primary School as well in upcoming years. Our goal is to continue to sponsor these children all the way through their university years. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor for a child at The Academy, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org