So what does that mean? In Tanzania, all students take a test at the end of primary school – the Standard 7 Test. Students who do not “pass” can not continue in the public school system. This would be the equivalent of all U.S. students – urban, suburban, public and private- taking the same test in 8th grade and anyone who didn’t score high enough would be excluded from public high school. The only 2 alternatives for more education here are private secondary school (expensive for Tanzanians) or a Q.T. (Qualifying Test) program that consists of a 10th grade and 12th grade test. If they pass, it’s like a GED but one with a score – so high scorers can still get into college.
We visited Neema’s home – she is 16 and had failed the Standard 7 test and therefore is at our ‘Informal” QT school. We are her only chance for further education. So why did she fail? We met her mother and her great grandmother. Her father died about 5 years ago and her mother lost all her possessions to the father’s brothers. Fearing further threats to herself and her 5 daughters, she fled to this area where she cares for her great grandmother in exchange for a place to live. To make money she sells fruit in town with which she feeds her children on weekends, provides clothing and pays nominal school fees at Kilimahewa. During the week Neema and her 4 siblings stay with an uncle and his wife and 2 children. This is an unusual stroke of good fortune. During weekends, the six women live in their mother’s mud/dung hut – a structure that accommodates much of the poor in this agricultural region.
She walks several miles back and forth to school and once again, our solar light is her only way to study at night. Here are Neema, her mother, her great-grandmother and Mama Grace, our Country Director.