We focus on three public primary schools: Meali, Losirwa, and Lucas Mhina and the Hope School for Girls and Boys, an independent non-profit school
Tanzania’s public school system is extensive, but facilities can be rudimentary, particularly in rural areas. The government provides some teachers, some buildings, and a small budget for books and other items. Primary school, K-VII, and now secondary school is required – for both boys and girls.
The people of these communities have no discretionary funds and cannot afford to augment the government budget. Friends of Meali International’s approach has been to “adopt” a school, give it a boost in infrastructure in ways that would have taken the community and government decades to accomplish, then maintain our relationship by providing a variety of ongoing support programs. Once a school is in “maintenance mode” we focus our capital improvement efforts on a different school.
Infrastructure improvements include: providing textbooks and desks; adding classrooms and renovating existing ones; creating housing for the teachers so they can live close to the school; building latrines; establishing a student center with kitchen, dining hall, library, computer center, solar power where there is no electric; large water cisterns that catch rain water, as well as smaller items like projectors, copy machines, etc.
Public secondary school is available only to students who pass National Exams at the end of Standard (Grade) VII. The first year of secondary school has some one time expenses and is taught entirely in English. We try to address these issues as well.
Friends of Meali’s work is currently focused on three public primary schools: Meali, Losirwa, and Lucas Mhina and the independent non-profit school the Hope School for Girls and Boys. Three are in the rural north of Tanzania, while the Hope School for Girls and Boys is in Arusha. We have just built the Lucas Mhina Primary School near Losirwa.
Meali Primary School, our namesake, was our first project, and we are very proud of the result. In five years, we totally, physically, transformed the school and are now continuing to support the school with a variety of programs, to become more deeply involved with the community, instill a greater understanding of the value of education, and help the children more fully realize their potential. We call this phase two.
Losirwa Primary School We have now completed our large projects at Losirwa, including classrooms, teacher housing, student center, and latrines and have gone into phase two.
Lucas Mhina Primary School When we started to give Losirwa Primary School a boost there were 280 students enrolled. Today there are over 1000. Enough is enough. The government set aside 17 acres and asked Friends of Meali to build a school. We have! The quid pro quo was the naming rights. What better way to honor Lucas for the continuing selfless, caring work he has done than to name the school for him. The government has promised teachers and to connect the school with electricity.
Oldeani Primary School started as part of our 2013 holiday drive for books and desks. By far the largest of these three schools, we have now helped them with many projects. We have built and renovated teacher housing, completely renovated 18 classrooms and built a large student center with the usual computer lab, kitchen and library. We support more teachers and pay for all students to continue on to secondary school. 2022 exam passing rate to go to Secondary school was 100% . At this point we are proudly moving on as another nonprofit is expanding in the area.
The Hope School for Girls and Boys is an independent non-profit school located in the outskirts of Arusha. Lucas Mhina is the founder and director. It is not a government school, hence independent, allowing Lucas and his staff to try different methods of teaching, and to greatly enhance the curriculum with more student participation and thought. Although it is non-profit it has a much larger budget than the government schools hence better facilities and offers more opportunities. It even has an innovation classroom. The school is not fully built and has only been in operation for two years, but Friends of Meali is working on pairing this school with the others above. There are many synergies to be had. This really is another step forward for Friends of Meali as we are now able to share more up-to-date, STEM oriented curriculum, thought provoking teaching and cultural activities between all our schools and support all of our teachers. This will help all of our students be more competitive in the 21st century.
The Meali class of 2012 joined by parents, siblings, President Nancy Scull and director Dana Devereux. After finishing school, these students returned, for two months, for an intensive English class to help transition from KiSwahili primary school environment to a secondary school taught in English.
Friends of Meali funded the English teacher.
Losirwa graduation 2018 in new student center