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Bigwa Science Lab Construction Complete

African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC)
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Funding was generously provided by the GHR Foundation out of Minneapolis, MN. A total of $458,222 in funding for the Bigwa Secondary School was was generously provided by the GHR Foundation to build labs for physics, chemistry, and biology and to upgrade science and math curriculum.

Funding was generously provided by the GHR Foundation out of Minneapolis, MN. A total of $458,222 for capital funding for the Bigwa Secondary School was given to build labs for physics, chemistry, and biology and to upgrade science and math curriculum. Funding was also used to upgrade teacher skills in science.

The strategic objectives of the Bigwa Secondary School capital project were:

  • To increase the capacity of the sister student graduates of Bigwa to minister in areas that will financially assist their communities.
  • To attain A-level status with the Tanzanian Department of Education for the Bigwa Secondary School.

 The new science lab construction began on June 15, 2010 with a proposed completion date of January 2011.

The new science lab construction began on June 15, 2010 with a proposed completion date of January 2011.

Bigwa Secondary School for Sisters in Morogoro, Tanzania, is a residential high school for religious women who do not have a high school diploma. These women are typically in their twenties and have gone through the formation program in their communities. For a variety of reasons, such as a proclivity for educating only the boys in the family or poor access to a secondary school, they were not able to attend high school when they were the usual age for attendance.

In recent years, the school has also accepted local girls from the poorer strata of the area. Currently, enrollment is 340 students, of which 82 are sisters from Tanzanian congregations and 260 are girls from the region. The school is basically an O level school, which in the Tanzanian system means it is a terminal program emphasizing basic skills and crafts.

Girls in front of the Chemistry Laboratory

Girls in front of the Chemistry Laboratory

The Tanzania Catholic Association of Sisters (TCAS), which is the sponsor of the school, has asked ASEC to work with them to upgrade the school to a successful A level. This will enable more of its graduates to sit for the university entrance exam. University education is necessary to enter the professions such as nursing, teaching, and social work. Being prepared in such areas enables the sister to earn a salary and support her community, or it enables the community to sponsor a healthcare institute or a school and charge for its services. This in turn enables the religious community to care for and educate its members. The growing number of African religious, the aging of its first indigenous members, and the decline in the number of missionaries all make financial independence for these religious communities essential.

Sister Students of Bigwa School express their joy and gratitude for receiving new Science books

Sister Students of Bigwa School express their joy and gratitude for receiving new Science books. Front row left Sr. Generosa, headmistress Bigwa School; right Sr. Patricia Kijuu, Science teacher, standing at right, Sr. Lina Wanjiku. SLDI Coordinator East Africa.

Education in science and math are the key areas of the upgrade and will take additional training for the current faculty and a new facility. The current science lab is one classroom with almost no equipment. It will not accommodate laboratory classes, which are required as part of the curriculum.

doing an experiment in the new science lab

Sr. Marietta says, “It is easier to understand Science when you touch because you are visualizing what is taking place and why things are happening…I now understand the purpose of experiments and study well because I am able to conduct experiments. I am grateful for the people who have helped us to have biology, chemistry and physics laboratories.”

The design for the new science laboratories was done by K.K. Associates in Dar es Salaam and included cost savings, more efficiency and introducing sustainable design techniques.  Marywood University School of Architecture Dean Gregory Hunt traveled to Bigwa in February 2011 to help with the plans and to talk with the contractor.

This new facility is state-of-the-art and enables the school to truly upgrade its science program. Education in science and math are the key areas of the upgrade to an A level school, and will take additional training for the current faculty and a new facility.

The Bigwa Science teacher, Mr. Nevil M. Kasivu, is working well with the students and provides extra tutoring to students particularly Form 5 and 6.

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