The women religious in the East African countries of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya stressed an urgent need for secondary and professional education. Many sisters entered religious congregations having completed primary education and then spent time in initial formation and in ministry before starting secondary education. As a first step, ASEC is committed to supporting the Bigwa Sisters' Secondary School in Tanzania to help provide secondary education for sisters from 22 different religious congregations.
The goal is to raise the classification of Bigwa Secondary School in Morogoro, Tanzania, from the "O" (ordinary) to the "A" (level). This will enable the sister graduates to apply for higher education. Key to this aim is an upgrade of the science/math curriculum and facilities.
ASEC is committed to the Bigwa school because of its role in preparing sisters for their ministries. To date, ASEC has assisted in setting up an Internet connected computer lab, trained a manager for the lab, funded summer tutorials in math and English for newly registered sisters, built a new dining hall and kitchen, assisted in replacing a dormitory destroyed by fire, and set up an English language lab.
Funding has been found for a science curriculum update and a new science lab. This project is beginning in the spring of 2010.
In May of 2008 and 2010, students from the ASEC colleges went on a service trip to tutor the Bigwa students in English.
The Bigwa initiative is small in relationship to the overall education needs of the continent, but will be a hopeful step forward for the religious communities of East Africa that struggle to provide secondary education for their members.
GHR is a foundation out of Minneapolis, MN. We were invited to submit a grant for the upgrade of the science lab in Bigwa. Our application was approved for $458,000.00. This grant covers the building of the science lab and development of curriculum as well as some money for faculty development. The science lab and equipment will come out of the grant. This will improve the education of the Sisters and get them where we want them to be. This will also take the school to an A Level and enable the students to become university qualified. The dean of the Marywood University School of Architecture, Gregory Hunt, accompanied Sr. Jacquelyn to Bigwa in February to help with the plans and to talk with the contractor.