History Of The Project
In July 2004 a group of pupils from Acklam Grange School, Middlesbrough, stumbled across Lesiraa School, on a two-week Overland Expedition to Kenya and Tanzania. What they witnessed shocked them, and proved to be quite distressing.
They simply could not believe that young people could be educated in such conditions, and in a tearful and emotional meeting they made a promise that they would ‘make a difference’.
Over a period of two years the pupils and staff at Acklam Grange School engaged themselves in a fundraising campaign, with the eventual outcome being the building, furnishing and equipping of four brand new classrooms at Lesiraa School.
In July 2007 another group of pupils from Acklam Grange School were able to visit Lesiraa School to see at first hand the result of all the hard work.
You can see from the expressions on our faces how shocked we were at the overcrowded classrooms and desperate lack of educational equipment and resources.
We had another emotional meeting at Meserani School, and decided that we would return to Acklam Grange School and set about raising enough money to build and equip four new classrooms for the school – the Lesiraa Project now became known as the Meserani Project, and this was launched at Acklam Grange School in September 2007.
By February 2009 the four classrooms were completed… and in July 2009 we put the final touches to the four brand new classrooms.
Following the completion of our building projects at Meserani Juu Primary School and Lesiraa Primary School, we looked into what happened to the pupils once they completed their primary education. We were shocked to learn that in Tanzania only one out of every nineteen pupils completes their secondary education – this is because they have to pay to attend government secondary schools, (the nearest school to Meserani was Einoti Secondary School, and their fees were just under £100 a year). Hardly any pupils from the Meserani District attended Einoti Secondary School, not just because of the school fees, but also because the transport costs were in excess of £100 a year. The other significant factor was the extreme poverty in the Meserani District in comparison with other areas of Tanzania.
In 2010 a further ten pupils from the Meserani District, and six pupils from the Kisongo District were sponsored to start their full four years at Einoti Secondary School.
Twenty-five pupils were now being sponsored to attend Einoti Secondary School, and you can see full details on each pupil, and their individual sponsors, by clicking the appropriate link on the website home page.
In 2010 the decision was made to apply for charity status, and this was achieved in June of that year. The main consideration in the constitution of the charity was that there would be no expenses taken out of any money raised by the charity, or any donations made to the charity. All work would be done voluntarily, and no person would be allowed to claim any expenses whatsoever. This means that 100% of all money raised and donated goes directly into the work undertaken in Kenya and Tanzania.
In August 2010 we established a link with two government boarding schools, and discovered that the cost of sending a pupil to one of these schools was less than sending a pupil from the Meserani region to Einoti Secondary School as a day pupil.
In January 2012 a further sixteen boys started at Moita Secondary Boarding School and nineteen girls started at Kipok Secondary Boarding School.
In July 2011 a group of 24 students from Acklam Grange School and two trustees of The Meserani Project visited Meserani Chini Primary School, and felt that The Meserani Project should support this school. The school is in a desolate and remote area, it has seven classes but only five classroms, and two of these were in a quite unacceptable condition.
We liaised with our advisors from the Meserani region, and the trustees decided that we should pay for the building and equipping of two classrooms. The building work started in September 2011, and was completed in February 2012, and teachers’ text books were provided for all subjects and all age ranges.
695 text books were provided for the pupils at Meserani Chini School in August 2012 meaning that there are text books for all seven year groups, and for every subject – something unheard of for government schools in this part of Tanzania!
Throughout 2013 we undertook a complete refurbishment of the four teachers’ houses at Meserani Chini Primary School, so as to attract quality teachers to the school. Each house was given a new roof, windows, doors, plastering, ceilings, bed, mattress, guttering and water tank.
By the end of the year two new teachers had already moved in.
In July 2013 we had our first ever pupils starting A’ Level courses. Charles Robert is studying at Engutoto School, Monduli, and Lembis Loisulie is studying at Sanya Juu School, Moshi.
At the start of 2014 a further 25 pupils started their secondary education, spread across three schools: Engutoto, Moita and Kipok.
Towards the end of 2013 we established a link with Arusha Vocational Training Centre, and in January 2014 our first three students started a residential course there leading to a vocational qualification in carpentry.
We are hoping that this new venture is successful, as we will have many more students in the future who will be hoping to access similar courses.
None of the secondary schools that we support have whiteboards – in fact every government school that we have visited in the Arusha region only have blackboards – so in January 2014 we provided a full-size whiteboard and several packs of whiteboard marker pens to Einoti Secondary School, Moita Boys Secondary Boarding School and Kipok Girls Secondary Boarding School. These whiteboards are being trialled by the schools, and if successful in improving the standard of teaching at the schools, we will look into providing more whiteboards for some of the schools that we support.
The 2013 national examination results for secondary schools in Tanzania were published in February 2014, and we were delighted to learn that we had a 53% success rate with pupils who achieved the necessary pass mark to go on to further education. Nine students are now studying A’ Levels at High Schools throughout Tanzania, and six students will be starting a three-year course at Arusha Vocational Training Centre.
In July 2014 three water tanks were provided for Moita School by four former Acklam Grange pupils, Chloe Winter, James Small, Joe Millar and Tom Dobson, as part of their East Africa Expedition 2014 Project. They also provided three water tanks and a large consignment of text books for Kipok School.
In August 2014 two more water tanks and 56 bunk beds were provided for Moita School. The bunk beds were made by a local engineer from Meserani. At the same time, two more water tanks were provided for Kipok School, as well as solar power to a new classroom block, solar power to the school office, a photocopier and a printer.
The national examination results for Lesiraa School in 2013 and 2014 were outstanding, and were amongst the best in the whole area. In order to further motivate the teachers to continue their excellent efforts, it was decided to begin a refurbishment programme of the staff room at the school. As it stood in July 2014 they had no shelving, no cupboards, no storage, no water tanks, no adequate teacher’s desks – in fact they had nothing at all! In August 2014 we put up shelving in the staff room as the first part of the refurbishment programme, and in January 2015 we provided two much-needed 5,000 gallon water tanks for the school.
In August 2014 we organised our first ever trip to Meserani for sponsors and supporters of the charity. Two weeks were spent in Kenya and Tanzania, including a number of safari expeditions, but the majority of time was spent at Meserani working with the pupils and schools.
By the end of 2014 we had completed the refurbishment of the teachers’ houses at Meserani Chini Primary School, and as a result the school was able to appoint six new teachers. The national examination results for the school exceeded all expectations, and we were able to sponsor three girls and two boys to begin their secondary education in January 2015.
In January 2015 we found sponsors for 25 more pupils to begin their secondary education at Moita and Kipok Boarding Schools, as well as sponsors for ten more students to begin their A’ Level studies, and six more students to begin their courses at Arusha Vocational Training Centre.
In June 2015 a group from Virgin Media spent four days at Meserani working on the project. They installed solar power to a teacher’s house at Kipok School, undertook a water harvesting survey at Meserani Chini Primary School, donated tools and resources to Arusha Vocational Training Centre and undertook an infrastructure survey, and gave individual laptop lessons to our A’ Level students.
In August 2015 eleven more students began their first year of A’ Level studies (eight males and three females), whilst seven students began their second year of A’ Level studies (six males and one female).
In August 2015 we funded the installation of a roof for the new dormitory at Kipok Girls’ Secondary Boarding School.
In September 2015 three students began courses at university (our first ever university students – a landmark for the charity!)
In November 2015 we had our best ever set of National Examination results to date: 14 out of our 16 pupils in Form Two at Moita Secondary school achieved a Distinction – the highest level of pass!
In January 2016 we found sponsors for 30 more pupils to begin their secondary education at Moita and Kipok Boarding Schools.
In January 2016 we funded the installation of doors, windows and plastering for the new dormitory at Kipok Boarding School, and fifty desks and chairs for Moita Boarding School.
In March 2016 we made a commitment to fund the building of two classrooms and an office at Losingira Primary School, and building work began on 21 March.
The two classrooms at Losingira Primary School were officially opened in August 2016.
In August 2016 we installed a water harvesting system at Meserani Chini Primary School.
Work on the final two classrooms at Losingira Primary School began in October 2016, thanks to the fundraising efforts of Chandlers Ridge Primary School, Middlesbrough.
In September 2016 nine students were selected to begin higher education courses at university or college.
In January 2017 we installed solar power to the staff accommodation block at the Meserani Chini Medical Clinic.
In January 2017 we found sponsors for 24 more pupils to begin their secondary education at Moita, Kipok and Irkisongo Boarding Schools.
The current statistics for The Meserani Project as of January 2017 are:
- 102 pupils are being sponsored through their secondary education.
- 20 students are studying A’ Levels.
- 10 pupils are waiting to start their A’ Level studies.
- 3 students are at Arusha Vocational Training Centre.
- 11 students are at University or College.