The Olive Branch for Children (TOBFC) has worked in partnership with the Tanzanian government, as well as donors, like the incredibly committed MSK community, to deconstruct the barriers faced by children and youths in rural settings to access education.
Our Montessori Outreach Program is centred on the provision of culturally appropriate, Swahili, Montessori education in the most remote communities served by TOBFC. Our capacity to transform the academic journeys of the children in the communities we support is directly related to the dedication of our global partners, MSK being on of our longest standing and significant donors.
In 2017, TOBFC, sponsored by MSK, constructed Montessori schools in Mwashota and Lyannkunda, two of the most remote communities we work in. These schools have two classrooms each and are staffed by teachers trained through our Montessori program. The goal of connecting these neighbouring communities to our Montessori program and establishing formal, Casa classrooms, was to provide children with basic math and literacy skills. However, the vision quickly grew, as the teachers in these two schools, as well as the students, showed tremendous commitment to education and to extending their path of education. Children stayed on, well after the Casa level, absorbed in learning and determined to continue with their primary education.
Teachers Stephano and Gerald (Mwashota) increased their hours, teaching Casa in the morning and primary levels in the afternoon. Primary level students from Lyankunda, 6 km away, walked to Mwashota to join in the ongoing education lessons. Currently, Stephano and Gerald have 600 students ranging from the Casa to Grade 5 level.
The nearest government primary school is in Madundas, 18km from Mwashota and 12 km from Lyankunda. The Mbarali district government registered TOBFC’s Mwashota Montessori School as a satellite of their Madundas Primary School and allowed the Grade 4 students to write the national examinations in 2020. The students went to Madundas with their teacher Gerald for 1 week, to prepare for the national exams and to ensure they would not be overwhelmed by the new environment. When the results came out for the Standard IV national exams, it was a complete shock to the Madundas Primary School that the top 8 performing students were from Mwashota, a testament to the incredible work being done by both Stephano and Gerald.
In 2020, Principals Vincenza and Kam asked how the MSK community could continue to grow its partnership with TOBFC. Immediately, we knew that the most important work that MSK could continue to do with TOBFC is to expand the Mwashota Montessori.
TOBFC must construct two more classrooms, and housing for 3 teachers. The Mbarali district government has agreed to staff the primary school with teachers who have completed their certification in primary education. Stephano and Gerald would continue to teach the Casa level students.
With the funds raised in 2020 by the MSK community, TOBFC will lay the foundations for the two classrooms and the housing for the teachers in June 2021. With the foundations laid, we hope that the MSK community will continue to rally behind TOBFC and the communities of Mwashota and Lyankunda.
Our goal is to ensure the children of Mwashota and Lyankunda have the same opportunities as children from semi-urban or urban settings. The educational and economic divide between semi-urban and urban settings and rural communities, especially villages like Mwashota, can feel like a gaping chasm. However, with continued investment, families will be able to remain in Mwashota and Lyankunda for their livelihoods, while managing to support the schooling of their children. The ability of families to feed themselves should not be sacrificed so they can move closer to schools and services. Schools and services must be brought to communities, so that families can farm and invest in their children.
Please help us keep our doors open in 2021 by donating https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/the-olive-branch-for-children/
Founder and Tanzanian Representative of The Olive Branch for Children