Education a ‘Hit’ in the Maasai Harmonial Area

Posted on March 6, 2018

Last Summer and Fall the government built a nice classroom for the Emburbul preschool students. In addition, a safari tourist came by in November, and gave the school some note books and chalk boards. In January 2018, thirty-three preschool students started the new year in their school. Then, a few weeks later, another 39 kids came to join the preschool. The seating capacity of the preschool is 45. So 27 students do not have seats.

Last year Maasai Harmonial donors funded uniforms for all of the new girls and some of the new boys. When the school year ended in 2017, the teacher said that the Maasai Harmonial kids did the best of all the students, and the girls did better than the boys!

We think the reasons there are so many additional students are: 1) we purchased uniforms for primary school students; 2) we are sponsoring some of the students in schools where they will learn English or advance some other way through school, in contrast to the current system where less than half of rural students get into high school; 3) the primary students started going to public boarding school, where not only do they get an education, but are fed more than what their parents can provide. So these three actions have inspired children to do well in school, and parents to support the education of their children.

The answer to the lack of space in the classroom is to build another classroom. The government has not offered to build it, so we are hoping Engineers Without Borders USA will build it.

We are very pleased with these results. They show that even small investments can help kids get through school. We hope that small incentives and small improvements can be made to the school system, and this will help the kids get through high school. Currently, only half of all kids in Tanzania make it into high school because they can’t pass the national exam. Pastoral kids have an even lower chance of getting into high school because they start with the Maasai language, Maa, and then have two additional languages to learn. They live in remote areas and get little chance to practice a second and third language.

We are especially interested in getting girls through high school because then they are much less likely to be forced into an early marriage and genital cutting. Girls who have finished high school are more likely to know their rights, know how to space their children, and to know what it takes to raise healthy children and prepare them for an education.

This year we continued to sponsor three girls in early primary English boarding school and three girls in a high school that takes girls who could not pass the national exam.

In addition, we have found a school that will take Class 6 (6th grade) girls, put them in a public school, and tutor them in English and life skills in an after-school/weekend program. The program has had success in giving girls three years worth of education in two years. We are sponsoring two girls. If this works, we hope to send more girls through this program.

Another area in which we hope to make improvements is a classroom for early primary students, too young to go to public boarding school 4 miles (7 km) away. We may ask Engineers Without Borders for two classrooms instead of just the one we want for the additional preschool students.

This year we are also going to purchase health insurance for all the students in primary and preschool, as well as for the married girls of school age. We are also going to encourage adults to go to health classes, when we work out the details with another NGO who runs the classes. Health classes will not only help with general health, but will make women aware of the health advantages of spacing their births, and will make men feel more engaged with their wives health.

Support Maasai Girls Education

Here is your chance to sponsor a girl from the Maasai Harmonial project area in secondary school --

Only $600 for one year, Primary school uniforms $30

As a Maasai girl at the age of just 12 you are at risk of being forced to marry a man of that may be up to 30 years older than you. You must go through the ritual of female circumcision (FGC) – an excruciating procedure, which is likely to lead to a lifetime of pain and medical problems, if you survive the shock and blood loss. You may be one of several wives and can expect to have at least 5 children, whom you will need to clothe, feed and if at all possible send to school, but with little or no education this will be a lifelong struggle and your daughters will go through the same experience as you.

At age 12, your body is not ready for childbirth. Pregnancy is consistently among the leading causes of death for girls ages 15 to 19 worldwide. Girls between the ages of 10 and 14 years are 5 to 7 times more likely to die in childbirth; girls between the ages of 15 and 19 years are twice as likely. Mothers under the age of 18 have a 35% to 55% higher risk of delivering a preterm or low-birthweight infant than mothers older than 19 years. The infant mortality rate is 60% higher when the mother is under the age of 18 years. Data demonstrates that even after surviving the first year, children younger than 5 years had a 28% higher mortality rate in the young mothers cohort. This morbidity and mortality is due to the young mothers’ poor nutrition, physical and emotional immaturity, lack of access to social and reproductive services, and higher risk for infectious diseases.

Population is another consideration in these areas where people are outgrowing their land. On average, women marrying as children have 4-5 more children over their lifetime than if they marry after the age of 18. Combine education with the family planning and birth spacing program we promote, and there is the potential for a significant slowing of population growth. The administrators of the Ngorogoro Conservation Area where they live, have talked about evicting the Maasai out of the NCA (with nowhere to go) because it is perceived that are too many people and thus too many cattle competing with the wildlife for grasses.

Note: the population numbers are inflated beyond reality by the authorities in Ngorongoro. Also the rate of increase is inflated because it is based on a period of immigration moslty occuring two decades below.

Education provides pastoralist girls with an understanding of what other options they have in life and the tools to pursue them. PWC (Pastoral Women’s Council) provides the opportunity for girls who would otherwise have no way of attending school to receive an education through sponsorships.

There is an urgent need to provide more scholarships to educate girls who so desperately want a different future for themselves but have no other means to add one.

Preschool kids learning phonics in their new school provided by the government.

In addition, there is an urgent need to upgrade the education these children are getting. Children 3-5 attend a nearby preschool, where they learn Swahili and counting. They are then eligible to attend a primary boarding school four miles away, but early primary children cannot attend boarding school if they can`t attend to their own needs like washing thir own clothes. And they are too young to travel the four miles on their own, for fear of wild animals, such as Cape buffalo or hyenas. The solution is to build an early primary school close to the village, or to bring in a government-supplied teacher, who requires his or her own house in the village.

We also have one student in medical college, one in veterinary school, and another in wildlife college. We hope to add more as time goes on.

Click on the Donate button below if you want to donate by credit card to support education (school uniforms, building classrooms, health classes, tuition/fees for a girl in school or college, etc) in the Maasai Harmonial Development and Sustainability project area.