from October 2009 Newsletter (Volume 4, Issue 2)
‘What are you learning?’ I asked a handful of students, who were working assiduously – measuring, calculating, and documenting data from a rudimentary gadget. After giggling shyly, murmuring among themselves one girl spoke up in seasoned English. “We are investigating the time of oscillation of a pendulum.” Pardon? “Let us show you,” they hummed. Excitement took over; even the boys from the back of the room sauntered over to see what was happening.
Today, the students are practicing their lab work on makeshift equipment, but it is the hope of the Orkolili Secondary School’s Headmaster, Lema Verandumi, and school’s Founder and Director, Yohana Y. Mcha, that at this time next year all of their students will be measuring, diagramming, and analyzing their data in a brand new Science Laboratory. Orkolili Secondary School, located in the Hai District, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania is a unique institution – one which values each student as an individual, adhering to his or her particular needs.
Awarded an Asante Africa Foundation starter grant of $2,000 USD for the provision of laboratory equipment and apparatus for their new Science Laboratory, the school is implementing their grand vision. It will be a means by which to inspire young people to excel in science, be creative with their minds, and advance, at the community level, increased opportunities for achievement. Not only is Orkolili progressive in its approach to Science education, but also in its philosophy around vocational training and opportunities for young people who are not suited for a rigorous academic track. Seeking to address the needs of the students who fall into this category, the school provides a second learning track so that they can acquire technical skills (such as IT, culinary, construction, mechanics, sewing, etc) that will increase the likelihood of employment in these trades after graduation.
As Ms. Mcha states so eloquently, “I, the dreamer, wish to see the graduates of Orkolili Secondary School leave ready for a purposeful future wither pursing higher studies or engaged in an income generating activities, either as an employee or as a self employed man or woman. I would not wish to see the students, having been in my hands for 4 years, leave to be an economic burden on their parents’ guardians or community.” We are looking forward to seeing the great successes of this school and applaud the dedicated staff and students working hard toward a more sustainable future for Tanzanian youth.