The Sinai Primary School in the Maisaka Ward is located 4km north of Babati. Set in 3 acres of arid land the school has a small grove of trees protecting it from the main road, a football pitch and some barren land intended for agriculture. The school provides education for the community’s children between the ages of 5 to 14. Babati Town’s growth has reached this area which is now considered urban.
In 2007 when LTT came across the school all of the buildings were in need of significant renovation (termite infestation, cracked walls, missing lintels and crumbling foundations etc. ). The school did not have a dedicated water source and was required to share the community hand pump 1km away. School meals were not being provided and what few resources the school had were securely locked away. As a result of these inadequacies the students suffered from low levels of morale, high levels of absenteeism and the community questioned the value of schooling, however the teachers were enthusiastic to see their school develop.
LTT sat with the School Development Committee and the teachers and we asked what their priorities were for development and together we created a development plan with community participation in terms of providing the bricks for the building works. LTT recognised that part of the problem within the school was the result of poverty at home and that if education was to be addressed successfully due consideration was needed to address domestic poverty
When academic performance is poor there are always underlying contributing factors. At Sinai we started with the basics:-
Renovating the poor quality of the existing classrooms and teachers offices.
Knocking down dangerous buildings and rebuilding them.
Adding two new classrooms and store room to reduce overcrowding.
Building and upgrading toilets for students and teachers alike.
Providing handwashing facilities.
Buying more desks to ensure there is one desk for 3 students
Buying more text books to ensure one book per desk per subject per year group.
Buying more tables and chairs for teachers
Improved water security by drilling a borehole and installing a pump with 4000 litre water tank, connecting the school to the mains supply and putting together a rainwater harvesting programme.
Ensuring a secure facility at the school.
Building a kitchen with fuel efficient stoves to reduce work places hazards , the carbon footprint and time spent collecting firewood and in a small way address the local deforestation problems
Installing a computer and training the teachers to use it
Providing after school training for sponsored students
Ensuring good uptake of the kindergarten by supporting the teachers wages
Ensuring the school adopt a feeding programme
Developing of a pro-active and re-active maintenance plan to ensure that all assets are well maintained.
Running an English Language course for teachers to improve their English and so improve their teaching.
Providing all of Standard 7 with solar lanterns to enable them to study at home
We have started a pilot maths improvement programme using tablets. By the 1st August 2015 the teachers are trialling the tablets to see if they think they are suitable for the students
- The students no longer have to leave during class to walkover 1 km to collect water for drinking, cleaning and cooking leaving more time to education
- The teaching and learning environment has greatly improved
- The decorative garden is providing the school with an income and a learning opportunity
- The school has a dedicated classroom for children with special needs
Improving self reliance
It is not easy to run a school on the poor level of funds provided by the local authorities even when topped up by contributions from the community. A school, by which we mean the teachers and the community can either accept the situation understanding that they are a victim of circumstance or they can take the attitude that they will try and do what they can to change the status quo and generate money for themselves using the resources available to them. The Livingstone Tanzania want to work with the second set of people and work with them to realise that dream.
To start an income generation programme that suited the resources of the school we:-
- brought water to the school.
- we transformed the ornamental garden in the middle of the school to a market garden producing crops for sale.
- We transformed the area around the back and sides of classrooms 1 & 2 into a market garden for the hardship students, their crop sales contribute to their school meal programme.
- We have helped design scrub land so that it can be turned into a cassava plantation.
- We have provide the school with a loan pot which they lend to teachers and the income this generates provides an income for fund the running of the kitchen for the school meals.
- We have planted fruit trees around the school.
- Provided training for the teachers and students on good agricultural practices
- We are working with the teachers on the farm accounts and planning as there is still some distance to go before that is being done without prompting.
- The teachers have been asked to think about school income generation ideas.
- The school needs to have improved electrical supply as the mains supply is both erratic and expensive. Solar panels would provide an excellent solution and fit in with LTT's vision of schools being off-grid and so self-sufficient for it's power needs.
- There are some buildings left that need guttering and water tanks
- We are sponsoring the completion of the newly built kindergarten toilets by providing tiles and paint so that they can be kept clear and hygienic.
How you can help
A donation of any size towards any of these projects will help move them forward so that we can create the environment that allows us to exit the school.
The night sky in Babati -