Thank you to everyone who donated to our fundraising campaign! With your help we met our fundraising goal and are ready for another exciting summer program.
This summer program though marks a bittersweet moment for The Ota Initiative. Over the past nine programs, we have always worked with the same group of students. Some students have had to leave and new students have come in to take their spots, but many of the students in the group are the same ones we started the program with 5 years ago. It has been a joy to watch them learn and grow over these years. However, based on Head Teacher Pontian’s recommendation, we are now going to restart Ota’s programming with a new set of first and second grade students this summer.
Many of our students are reaching the end of primary school, at which point they must pass a series of national tests to continue on to secondary school. As a result, over the past few programs, more and more of students have not re-enrolled because they spend their school breaks preparing specifically for these tests. Now almost all of our students are preparing to leave primary school, and Pontian talked with many parents who were torn between sending their children back to the Ota programming they love and having them study for their national tests. We never knew when our students would outgrow us, but we always have been clear that we want to supplement the Tanzanian school system, not compete with it. While we do ultimately think our program will give students the skills they need to pass these national tests, it is not designed specifically to help them overcome this hurdle in their education journeys. Thus, we made the decision to end programming with our current group of students and start with a new group of young ones. It was a difficult decision, but ultimately the right one, and I hope we can reconnect with all of our students again in the future.
We are now returning to our very first syllabus – defining the characteristics of living beings – and are preparing for a new group of students. Our group leaders spent the past week learning science experiments, writing stories, and practicing games that they will use to teach our new students about the difference between living and non-living things. I am sad to see our current students go, but I am excited to have a new group of children engage and learn with us. May their time with us be just as wonderful as the first group’s.
As always, thank you for your support, and look for an update on our new students soon.