Tomorrow’s Scholar-Leader Sponsorships
School fees and supplies alone cannot empower a student born into the stark realities of poverty and a broken family to reach his or her potential. The needed toolkit is much more complex.
Even before gaining its 501c-3 status in 2010, EdPowerment began to offer sponsorships that would cover all education-related needs through highest level of schooling that the participant could achieve. The goal was to allow each student to pursue a course of study based on his or her skill set that would lead to economic opportunity and self-sufficiency.
Since 2010 the lives of nearly 70 young people have taken radically different shape because of EdPowerment’s Tomorrow’s Scholar-Leader Sponsorship Program. Half of these students already have completed their years of study and now are a part of Tanzania’s workforce – some as skilled laborers and others as professionals.
In 2018 nearly 35 continue to advance including 4 in college certificate and diploma programs and 12 in university degree programs. Our first medical school graduate is beginning her residency; last year’s Bachelors of Accountancy graduate has taken over financial responsibilities for EdPowerment’s programs while pursuing her CPA; and our first female sponsored student, who just completed her Bachelor’s of Arts with Education, and is now seeking her first posting while interning at KIWOCE.
EdPowerment’s goals mark Tomorrow’s Scholar-Leader Sponsorship program as follows
EdPowerment places its sponsored students in schools that can deliver quality teaching in English and the subject areas central to their strengths and goals. Most of our students attend private boarding schools, some vocational, so that they can focus on their studies unhindered by family demands and stresses. We provide books, study materials, and extra tutoring (“tuition”) as needed, and all students attend workshops and classes at KIWOCE during breaks to bolster their formal learning.
Virtually all EdPowerment sponsored students, however talented or motivated, grapple with challenges far beyond a minimal educational foundation. They lack
Exposure to society outside of their immediate village and family
Counseling or guidance that can help them cope with dysfunctional situations
A basic understanding of themselves, their bodies, healthy habits and positive relationship building.
This situation challenges EdPowerment to nurture trust, open conversations and otherwise support each student, so that he or she can build a new awareness that that will translate into better decision-making and interactions in the school environment, community and eventually, the workplace.
As our students began to graduate from secondary school, Edpowerment realized that given the obstacles to employment in Tanzania – namely the limited number of jobs and the pervasive use of connections – our students needed to step up their “soft” skills and practical know-how.
This insight led us not only to create the THRIVE program for students on extended breaks, but also to infuse every opportunity we have outside of the classroom to teach behaviors and develop Internet skills that can help them overcome the deficits of their background. This includes resume and CV writing, proper email communication, interview coaching, networking strategies, internship dress and behaviors, motivational talks and other activities directed by both the EdPowerment staff and visiting professionals.
Every one of our sponsored students has a compelling story – one that not even EdPowerment can fully know and grasp. While story-telling is a key to fund-raising, we also respect the privacy of our students. The following are only meant to give a glimpse of the depth of EdPowerment’s involvement with the young people it nurtures.
R Sometimes sponsorships go well beyond the individual student’s needs. The home of one of our girls, whose caretaker was a devoted, but failing, grandmother (bibi), began to crumble in the rains. R’s performance also faltered as she worried about her grandmother and what she would find the next school break. EdPowerment stepped in, directing funds to build a new home for R, her bibi and younger brother.
F demonstrates the synergistic impact of both KIWOCE and our sponsorship program. EdPowerment’s three founding educators met him during their respective volunteer stints at KIWOCE pre-2010. One of the more active tweens who came every day, he loved Spiderman and had an engaging way about him. In 2011 the Sponsorship Management Team selected him to attend a private boarding school that was willing to accept our less-qualified students. We have been with him these many years, through personal and academic challenges. This fall, F begins the final year of his Bachelor of Arts degree with Education. Administrators of the school where he completed his last internship asked him back for several extra weeks because of his exceptional poise and communication, qualities he cultivated as an assistant teacher during the THRIVE program at KIWOCE.
Z and D also testify to EdPowerment’s transformative process. Sent by her family to an uncle who promised to take her to school but then treated her as house help, Z appealed to Rebecca, one of KIWOCE’s first teachers, for help. With community involvement, Z came to live with Rebecca and began attending classes at KIWOCE.
At the same time D, like many, walked several miles each day to KIWOCE from home, where her mother struggled to support her children, even pounding stones to make gravel to sell. Both took the Form 2 Equivalency Test and performed well enough that we took them into our sponsorship program at a private school, even though they had to agree to repeat one year. Today, 6 years later, they are beginning their 2nd year of University Studies: Z is earning a Bachelor Degree of Law, while D, a Bachelor of Education in Science candidate, will become one of Tanzania’s best science teachers.