October 2018 - Given Cosmas is the #1 Girl Student in Tanzania
The Grade 7 National Exam results are out! Once again, Tumaini Junior School students excelled, ranking number one in the Karatu district.
However the biggest success was the incredible results of Tumaini Junior School’s Head Girl, Given Cosmas. Given achieved the highest score of all grade 7 girls in the Tanzania, and third overall. 943,313 students, 496,427 of them girls, sat for the exam. Given was the only student from the Arusha region to place in the top ten in the country.
The 13 year old Karatu local has been at Tumaini Junior School since grade 1, and from an early age embodied the Tumaini Junior School motto, Strive for Excellence. She has consistently been at the top of her class, and Academic Master, Mr. Gasper, said he had expected her to do exceptionally well. She has “opened the door for others”, because now every Tumaini student can see what is possible. Of Given, Mr. Bayo says, “She is a brilliant girl, she deserved it. She is hard working and disciplined.” When asked if she expected to do this well, Given says, “It was always my dream, and now it has come true”.
Given wants to be an astronaut when she grows up, a dream that was inspired by space books she read. She says her biggest role model is Neil Armstrong. When asked why she wanted to be an astronaut she responded, "Very few people in Tanzania aspire to be an astronaut because they think it is too hard and unachievable. So I want to try." Given is an avid reader and a regular visitor to the school library, and when not reading non-fiction books she enjoys reading novels such as Nancy Drew.
In her free time, Given enjoys drama, singing, listening to music, and playing football. Tauck Tour guests may also recognize Given from their visit to Tumaini Junior School, as she would often help as a student guide during tours. As Head Girl of 2017, she is confident and respected by her peers.
Given’s ability to achieve incredible academic success despite her many commitments outside of class demonstrates the importance of activities other than study. Given is excited to begin at Tumaini Senior Secondary School (TSSS) in 2019. "TSSS is a science school, so it is connected to my ambition. Also it is a good environment to study in."
Meanwhile Given’s success has made headlines nationwide, with her photo and story featuring in the front pages of many national newspapers.
Tanzania Education Corp Scholarship Program
Given has been a scholarship recipient for the past two years and she will continue as one throughout her secondary school education. Families pay only a modest tuition to send their children to Tumaini Schools. Yet, many Tumaini families, like Given's, experience financial hardships because of crop failure, disease, divorce or death. Tanzania Education Corp pairs donors with a Tumaini student with a demonstrated financial need. To date, Tanzania Education Corp has paired over 125 students with sponsors.
A sponsorship provides a student with tuition, school uniforms, school supplies, boarding items and medical care for a year. In return, sponsors receive student-written letters, photos, and updates. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, or for more information, click HERE.
Government Education in Tanzania
When Tanzania received its independence in 1963, education for all was stressed by the new government. In the ensuing 50 years, the government has only partially met this goal. Today, every child is entitled to a free primary education, however, the government effectively blocks the enrollment in secondary school by administering a National Exam at the end of primary school, "The government only allows students who pass the exam to proceed on to secondary school and it cannot be re-taken, meaning children who fail cannot continue with formal schooling. Since 2012, more than 1.6 million adolescents have been barred from secondary education due to their exam results." (Human Rights Watch 2017). In 2018, the national pass rate for the National Exam was roughly 60%.
From the comprehensive assessment of Tanzanian education conducted by the NGO Uwezo in 2014, "Tanzania is not one country in terms of education. There are stark disparities between urban and rural areas. Children in urban areas continually outperform their rural peers. The pass rate among 13 year-olds for the Kiswahili and numeracy tests combined was 71% in urban settings compared with 50% for children of the same age in rural areas. Socioeconomic status also comes to bear on learning outcomes. At age 11, children from households classed as non-poor are almost twice as likely to pass the Kiswahili and numeracy tests as their counterparts in ultra-poor households."
The national context makes the academic performance of Tumaini Junior School, a rural school in a predominantly agricultural region, all the more impressive. Since its first graduating class in 2011, Tumaini has had a 100% pass rate for the national exam. Furthermore, the rate of enrollment in secondary school is consistently above 95%.