Tuleeni Academy

Education in Tanzania

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—most schools only have one classroom for the entire grade to cram into, with only a few desks and one book for every 5-10 students.

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Tanzanian children are struggling to learn anything at all in these schools and over 20% of them drop out before they complete their primary school education. When looking at the youngest grades in the school, there is a commonality amongst the students who are excelling in their studies. The students’ success seems to be reliant upon their academic readiness prior to entering primary class 1.

Academic readiness can be achieved through a variety of different outlets, the most important being parental involvement and early childhood education. Unfortunately, the government does NOT sponsor pre-school and the financial demand is too great for more than half of the country, making academic readiness often completely unattainable to the children who need it most.

Research has shown that pre-primary schooling not only helps children develop linguistic, cognitive, behavioral and fine motor skills but also establishes the academic foundation they need to perform well in school.

The combination of these poor educational circumstances led to catastrophic results on The National Primary School Leaving Exam in 2013 where 49.6% of students scored below 40%. Failure to pass this exam often results in the end of a child’s academic career. In 2013, only one third of students who completed primary school went on to receive a secondary school education.

Neema International’s Goal

In 2011, Neema Int’l began funding the Tuleeni Orphanage Extension Project in Kitandu Village, Uru (about a fifteen minute drive from the current orphanage) with the plan of building a new two story home for Mama Faraji (Founder and Executive Director of the Tuleeni Orphans’ Home) and the Tuleeni children that would also serve as an educational center for the village. As the completion of the center’s construction began to draw closer, Mama and Mandy sat down to re-discuss their vision for this project and what they hoped to achieve now and in the future.

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Education is the driving force and motivation in both Mama and Mandy’s work so they wanted to make sure they focused enough on educating the specific age group that needed it the most, the young children. Kitandu is home to nearly 7000 people and similar to most rural/remote villages, poverty is very wide spread and the accessibility to schooling is atrocious—this results in far too many children sitting around in the streets instead of learning in classrooms—especially children under the age of 7.

They decided that the need for a quality Early Childhood Education Center was greater than anything else they could have used the first floor of the new facility for—so if construction and funding allow, The Tuleeni Academy English Medium nursery/pre-primary school could officially be open by the middle of 2016.

The Tuleeni Academy will be facilitated by Neema International’s Education Sponsorship Program, which Mandy started in 2013. Each of the students who attend Tuleeni Academy will be matched with an education sponsor through Neema International. That sponsor will pay the child’s school fees in full each year allowing this child to attend a private school for “free” and develop the academic readiness he or she needs to be successful in the future. Additionally, having Neema Int’l sponsors fund students to attend its own school moves Tuleeni towards self-sustainability. The school will start off small, with a total of 30-35 students max and a student to teacher ratio of 5-10 students to one teacher—this will help ensure the quality of education that is being delivered as well as the success of the students.

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Neema’s education program works to break down the cycle of poverty by sending the most vulnerable children to the best schools possible—many times, these children would have wound up dropping out of school and in one way or another contributed to the transmission of destitution from one generation to the next. By funding schooling all the way through their university years and putting a mentor in their lives who believes in them and gives them hope, these students instead go on to become viable members of their community and help move their country towards a brighter future. To us, this is not a charitable endeavor but an investment that has the potential to bring a thousand-fold return in lives saved for generations to come. We hope to make this empowering cycle possible for many more children in the future, beginning with the deserving youngsters in Kitandu Village, Uru.