Le Manyatta & Matimu Primary Schools are located approximately 20km north of Arusha, Tanzania in a Maasai village called Le Manyatta (meaning ‘protected place’ in the Maa language). They are schools that was built approximately forty years ago by the Tanzanian government, beginning as 3 mud classrooms. Today the government still continues to fund the school irregularly (mainly just the primary school teachers’ wages, but very little structural development), but in the last four decades has managed to add another three classrooms to the school. The current enrolment is over 1200 Primary School students and 250 Nursery School students. At Maasai Wanderings, we are trying to fill in the gap between what the government is able to supply and what the actual need is to be able to offer a better quality of education. We already fully fund the Nursery School – supplying them with books, pencils, two Nursery School teachers and more including the supply of teaching materials and resources.
Maasai Wanderings began to work together with the parents and village council of Le Manyatta in 2007 with sponsorships into the secondary school next door and have since developed a solid relationship with similar goals. We began by establishing the nursery school – with the first lessons being conducted in the shell of what is now the actual nursery school! There were 45 students, which progressed to 90 once we have constructed the nursery school building and then 110 when we introduced daily porridge and 150 when uniforms came in. And so on, until our current enrolment was reached. We have built another classroom, as well as operate two sessions of classes each day. Singing, dancing and playing have been important educational tools for this age group, while writing and being taught from the blackboard build a classroom presence for the children to get used to for their academic lives. From 2009, we began partnering with ‘A is for Africa’, a fully registered 501 (c) (3) not for profit corporation from U.S.A. We have built toilets for the nursery school and now have moved onto the primary schools – we felt that the nursery school children were really enjoying a reasonable level of education but it dipped when the children moved onto primary school. Therefore, we committed ourselves and in 2010-2011, we have refurbished eight classrooms purchased over 5000 text books, incredible amounts of school supplies to maintain the standard of education. In 2012, we contributed over 200 new desks, sports equipment, a toilet for the teaching staff, built pathways and gardens, increased school supplies for all children, ink printing machines, typewriters for examination preparation. We also employ one watchmen and a cook for the porridge for the entire school and teaching staff – therefore we truly value the partnership with the ‘A is For Africa’ foundation. Newer developments in 2014-2015 were twelve new toilets for the primary school, a computer lab with vocational teacher for basic computing skills. A is For Africa fully funds a nutrition programme for over 900 students, and have recently dug a well for ease of water access for the school community. At Maasai Wanderings we are working on water conservation with regards to gutters and tanks for collection, concrete pathways to decrease the volcanic dust-induced eye and chest infections at school, and tree/garden further development. In 2015, we increased with a library facility with text and reading books for all age groups, built even more gardens and pathways for further dust reduction. In 2017, we have begun to refurbish classrooms again – protective paint on the classroom structures, re-painted and inlaid new blackboards and now working towards more pathways, and roof guttering of all classrooms. There is still a long way to go for Le Manyatta, even though we have already traveled so far
With the quality of education at Le Manyatta improving, there are surrounding villages who send their children to the school – we still need many more classrooms and facilities. With more classrooms, comes the need to build more teaching accommodation for increase staffing levels required. This is a very costly project. One of the biggest concerns for the school is quality of teaching –with most teachers being sent off to any school in Tanzania after only completing a junior level of secondary school or one year of teachers’ college – motivation is severely lacking. Add to the brew; low wages, harsh conditions, homesickness and a myriad of other negatives. This is my constant battle to maintain interest – and is not always successful. The Tanzanian government is working toward a goal of re-educating teachers, and we are looking forward to the future outcomes of that. We see a big improvement on the horizon. Our computer lab always needs more laptops for students to learning basic word processing skills, and also computing text books and reference guides are a big help here. A new step we hope to work toward in 2017 is the construction of a vocational programme for the village. Not everyone moves forward academically, but if we can provide the opportunity to learn a new skill, it is one step closer to a successful life. Our first programme is based on sewing so we are looking forward to seek funding for at least 20 sewing machines as a first step.
We rely on the kindness and commitment of volunteers and donors – from all backgrounds – to help us improve and attend needs as required. This allows us to gather interest, have leaders demonstrate commitment and motivation techniques, introduce new ideas for teaching, examining and professional goals, and of course for the physical labour of new construction.
We have continued to expand our support to Matimu, and in partnership with A is for Africa (USA) all the children in the nursery and primary school are enjoying a nutritious mug of hot porridge each day. This is much to the delight of the students! We have worked with the Wenona School, Roseville College, Pace Academy, Moreton Bay Boys College, The Harker School and Shore College with additional path building, tree planting, desk painting, classroom murals, english language tuition and textbook donations. And not to forget our small group and individual volunteers who have offered their time and skills to share with the community. From A is for Africa, we also have in place a computer lab and have received generous donations of used laptops to try and create a place where the students can learn at least basic cumputer or data entry skills - or even create and email address for themselves. There is alot more to come for Matimu so watch this space - think: construction of guest house for longer term volunteers is on its way.
It has been a big year for Matimu – We have implemented a tree planting program (to decrease dust throughout the school) with water storage for ongoing nurturing, increased textbooks for the primary school by approx 10,000 (with a lot of help from so many friends and family!), and added pathways at the front of each classroom and the entrance into the school proper. All this has been done with the help of the Carpe Diem Education, Wenona School, Moreton Bay Boys College, St Andrews College, and many more. Not to mention our Volunteer Liaisons, Damianus Lang'o and Allen Mollel!
We have also had incredible teaching support from A is for Africa, and teachers from Moreton Bay Collage.
In 2011 so far, we have built a nursery school at Matimu School and refurbished eight classrooms. For the refurbishment, we have put in ceiling boards, dug up the dirt floors and laid down concrete, plastered and painted inside the classrooms.
For the rest of the year, we intend to improve also the outside of the classrooms and replace all the broken windows.
We continue to fully fund the nursery school with the porridge program, teachers' wages and school supplies. We continue to supplement the Matimu Primary School with school supplies, donated uniforms and sports equipment.
We look forward to working with Lang'o to turn this school into our next success similar to Ilkurot progress.