The Matopo Primary School Teacher-to-Teacher project is documented here. It is kindly being supported by ETAS (English Teachers Association Switzerland) and the Roger Federer Foundation.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Spring 2013 Teacher-to-Teacher 'Matopo Project' Update

Spring 2013

Scholarship recipients and dormitory update

“Educate a woman, you educate a nation,” said Deputy President, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, speaking on the importance of girls’ education at the 4th annual Women’s Parliament Conference in Cape Town, South Africa, on 28th August 2007. 

These are fine-sounding words and similar sentiments have been proclaimed on many occasions by ‘well-meaning’ pundits around the globe. However, it often seems that the more people talk, the less anything really happens. But we in ETAS walk the talk! Just read on to find out what has happened since my last report, thanks to your engagement and support, ETAS members and friends. 

First, I am pleased to present here eight of the 10 new girls who will join our girls’ scholarship program in 2013. The girls are 12 and 13 years old, and in many cases are either orphaned or living with a single parent or with grandparents. When Norma Ferguson (our partner on the ground in Matopo whom you have previously read about here) interviewed the young ladies, she found that all of them have family obligations, such as garden duty, in addition to their schoolwork, as well as various hobbies and interests. For many local families, home gardens are not only sources of daily bread but also of small income. 

I was impressed to note that aside from wishing to pursue familiar professions such as teaching or nursing, several of the girls dream of becoming business managers and lawyers! As these young women have been chosen to participate in the program based not only on their disadvantaged home circumstances but also on scholarly merit, this does not really surprise me. Nevertheless, I’m inordinately pleased to see it. True, these are only dreams at this stage, but we are giving the girls a chance to make their dreams come true. This is what I mean by walking the talk! 

Second, some no less exciting news is that our vision of building a separate dormitory for our scholarship recipients is coming true! All credit and thanks for this achievement must go to ETAS member and current Treasurer Raymond Rogers, who spent a lot of time going around with hat in hand to banks and other sponsors to obtain the necessary funds. As I write, the dorm is nearly finished and the girls will be able to move in at the end of January. They are simply thrilled to have their own space to work, study, and socialize, and I have no doubt that this improvement in their lives will reap results in the classroom and beyond. This is what I mean by walking the talk! 

I’m already looking forward to being there in person in August and meeting this year’s scholars for the first time. As well, I look forward to seeing how the 10 scholarship beneficiaries for 2012 are getting on. In the meantime, plans are also afoot to organize several volunteers from ETAS and Hochschule Luzern (where I teach) to help the girls with their English. I really hope this works out: it would indeed show how we are walking the talk! More to follow… 

Cindy Hauert

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