In December, Mungere’s first class of students finished their secondary Ordinary Level classes and took the biggest exam of their lives. The results are in and every one of Mungere’s students passed, which means they have all officially graduated! Now comes the time when students must decide the best course for their futures. Some will continue on to their Advanced Level coursework and then university, while others may choose to start their careers now. With the skills they have learned in English, science, and social subjects from Red Sweater Project, they are all prepared for the direction they choose. For all of our students, they are part of the first generation in their village to conquer such a feat!
Next steps will be different for each student while Red Sweater staff and teachers provide them with academic and professional guidance counseling. Students who want to go into careers such as owning a beauty salon, horticulture or owning a small business may choose not to continue their secondary schooling, while others interested in becoming lawyers, nurses or teachers will continue with Forms V and VI.
Modeled after the British education system, Tanzanian students attend seven years of free primary school. Those who pass their Standard 7 Primary School Leaving Examination are accepted into government secondary schools, which most cannot afford to attend. Red Sweater Project offers an affordable alternative, in addition to admitting some students who didn’t pass the government tests but performed well on Mungere’s entrance exams.
Four years of secondary school lead to one’s Ordinary Level (O-Level) exams, of which all Mungere’s Form IV students just passed in 2016. Those with top level marks can choose a science or arts concentration and complete their Advanced Level degree.
Because the time between exams in November and the beginning of the Form V school year in July can be long, it is essential to keep these students engaged academically. Many of them spend that time working for their family farms or in their homes. “Most of these students do housework or look after the family cows while they wait for their results,” said Mungere teacher and academic officer Mary Joseph. “If the parents aren’t strict, they often get into trouble.” In order to continue to sharpen their English skills and keep them focused on school, Mungere’s Pre-Form V professional development program begins with a 6-week computer course.
Instructed in English, the course introduces students to computer basics, word processing, database management, spreadsheets, and typing. Many have never had the chance to work on a computer and are ecstatic about the opportunity. “It’s important to learn computers to continue school,” said student Happyness Fred. “We are learning to type and write letters and the teacher is showing us how to write an application to university.”
Not only will students be learning invaluable skills that will help in their chosen career or educational path, they continue to work on their classroom engagement, study habits, and English language interactions. This means that, whether they choose to start a business or open an Advanced Level textbook come July, Mungere students will continue to be prepared and excited for whatever comes their way.