Kao la Amani Primary School

STATISTIC:  Although the school enrolment ratio in Tanzania has improved over recent years, government funding remains relatively low. 20% of children aged 10 to 14 do not attend school and due to financial difficulties, school drop-out rates are high and many children end up working to support their families. 

OUR POLICY:  No child will be denied an education owing to an inability to pay.  At Tír na nÓg/Kao la Amani we truly believe that education will lead these children out of the darkness and further away from the poverty trap. 

In January 2008, 10 of our children were enrolled in ‘St Francis of Assisi’ school.  The school fee for the year was 500 dollars per child. To fund this a child sponsorship programme was set up in Ireland whereby people could sponsor a child’s education. Family members, friends and local people came together to offer their support. The 25 euro a month sponsorship meant that we would always have some money in the charity account. The future looked bright.

  

Learning of the daily ill-treatment of our children by the school authorities,  who were making them clean classrooms and the school grounds instead of allowing them into class as well as the mental abuse suffered by our children because of their misfortunate circumstances, absolutely enraged us.  These events inspired Louise to buy a plot of land so that one day Tír na nÓg would build a  primary school where children could feel safe and enjoy their education.    

Constant fundraising in Ireland and the generosity of the people enabled us to purchase two separate plots of land. An 8-acre plot would be used for building a new English-medium school/ administration block and playground and the 10-acre plot would be used as farmland where we could sustainably grow our own food.

Then the recession hit Ireland and the dream was shattered. We were hit so badly by the recession in Ireland, many Irish people believed that any charity money should remain in the country to help our own. Tír na nÓg home really fell on hard times. It became almost impossible to feed our children never mind paying school fees, rent etc.  Many people also began to cancel their child sponsorships as they could no longer afford the payments.

Our dream of building the school remained at a standstill but we were under immense pressure to start building or lose our planning permission. After a Civic Reception followed by coverage in newspapers and social media things started to look up again.  Donations started to roll in, but it was in 2013 that a huge boost came when a group, including two dentists from Ireland, visited Tír na nÓg home after climbing Kilimanjaro. They left feeling humbled but also angry at the fact that so many children were living in such conditions. On their return to Ireland, they contacted Louise.  They wanted to help.  Louise informed them of her wish to build a primary school and without hesitation, they donated 32,000 euro.   

A man by the name of Dan Harrington, an Irish contractor also came on board and he would spend 4 months in Tanzania to get the first 4 classrooms of the school finished.  A container with all the building materials, donations of school requirements, old classroom furniture, etc. were filled and sent down to Dar es Salaam. This process was painstakingly hard but was made worse on arrival at its destination owing to the fact that the authorities in Dar es Salaam refused to release it without being paid bribes. Pastor eventually, successfully negotiated the release of the container.   

       

 

2014: Louise and a friend, Deirdre Burke both headed to Tanzania for the year after taking career breaks from teaching. They assisted Dan on the building site by day while the children were at school and then they helped the children with homework in the evenings. They also taught English in the mornings. Everything was going to plan and the school was starting to fly up. The aim was to have all our children attending the new school in January 2015.

2015 Our primary school Kao la Amani (our Swahili name) opened its doors for the first time and we welcomed over 100 students. The dream had become a reality!

         

2019: Our English-medium, Kao la Amani Primary school is located in southwest Boma, referred to the 'New Boma' locally.  The school buildings are all single storey.  It has a capacity for up to 200 students (as of Easter 2019 it has 170 children enrolled).  Most of these pupils travel to school on one of our 2 school buses.  The school is staffed by 18 staff, 1 headteacher, 11 teachers, 3 maintenance staff, 1 cook, 1 security man and 1 receptionist.   In terms of external play space, there is a football pitch with goals and a basketball ring.

The administration block is the most recently finished part of the school. It joins to the east classroom block to form an L-Shape.  The reception block houses the headteacher's office, staff room and 2 staff toilets. 

At present, there is no dining hall for the school, and the only kitchen provision is a basic structure near the school building. We have further plans to improve the school with these key additions i.e. dining facilities, a library and a PC room.

group

Fr. Kevin from Ireland on a visit to our new school