A decade of education:
SCHULBANK Family celebrates 10 years of scholarship program in Tanzania!

Dear SCHULBANK family, education sponsors and friends,

Ten years ago, we set out to find the right approach for our development work in Tanzania. We were looking for a solution that would integrate existing structures in a meaningful way without requiring high investments in buildings or infrastructure. Our actions should deliberately avoid Western influences in the field of education and demand the ownership of Tanzanian society and its institutions. Our goal was to provide direct and efficient support to the motivated young generationCongratulations on 10 years of scholarship program for orphans in Tanzania!

We are proud of that.

The introduction of a scholarship program is basically not that complicated. With conviction, courage, and the generous support of numerous people, the launch is quite swift.

Dow, subsequent collaboration with fellows, their parents and schools, often described as an intercultural challenge, continues to prove a thick plank. It is not easy to accept that our initial ideas about structures and processes can only be implemented through many compromises and adjustments to the Tanzanian understanding of processes. This exercise of rapprochement accompanies us constantly and requires a lot of strength from everyone involved.

Maintaining this discourse and getting better at it makes us proud. And with every warm hug from our scholarship holders in Iringa, we are rewarded anew for our work.

What we have achieved.

Our successes to date are impressive. In the last 10 years, we have awarded 142 scholarships and been able to draw on donations of around EUR 440,000 for this purpose. Currently, we offer 100 scholarship places, which are awarded exclusively to full and half orphans. It is particularly gratifying that the majority of our scholarship recipients continue their educational careers at secondary schools, colleges or universities, often achieving above-average results. Here are some examples of which we are very proud:

Philipp Weischer, Projekte

Best student nationwide: Since 2017, we have been accompanying Niwaheri on her educational journey. Her journey began at St. James Secondary School, and since then we have been accompanying her on her journey at TTCIH (The Tanzanian Training Centre for International Health). Niwaheri is currently in her second year of clinical medical school and was recently named the most outstanding student in her field across the country.

Top of the year in Business Administration:

Our scholarship recipient, Vainess, proved to be the most outstanding student in the first year of her Bachelor’s degree program in Business Administration and Finance at St. John’s University in Dodoma. Vainess scored an impressive 4.8 out of 5 in its first year of study.

Exam with distinction: Pamela has been part of the SCHULBANK family since 2015. After successfully completing secondary school, she trained as a nurse at the Edgar Maranta School of Nursing in Ifakara. With a great deal of dedication, Pamela completed her exam with an impressive average of 4.3 (out of 5.0).

Mother and studentJohari is an orphan and lives in an orphanage in Ifakara. With our support, Johari excellently completed her training as a nurse and followed it up with a nursing degree at the renowned Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre. Impressively, Johari has since become a mother and continues to pursue her studies with this double burden.

Top grades at secondary school: Of the 75 students who graduated from St. James in 2022, 12 outstanding students are part of our scholarship program. Joshua shines as the top student in math, Mary shines as the top performer in Kiswahili, Masinde is convincing as the best athlete, and Mariam shows impressive leadership skills as the school president

Congratulations! Rhoida was hired as a teacher of history and English at Kwakilosa Secondary School in the Iringa region (for students in grades one through four). This professional step comes after her successful completion of her teaching degree at the University of Dar es Salaam. We congratulate her warmly on this outstanding achievement and wish her every success in her new position!

Community performance with a sense of responsibility.

As we uphold the successes of our scholarship recipients, we must at the same time recognize their individual commitment and acknowledge the generous financial support of all our sponsors and patrons. However, they are not the only ones who deserve thanks, but also the parents and guardians of our scholarship holders who financially support their protégés on this path. We would also like to thank our cooperation partners, including schools, colleges and universities in Tanzania. Through their financial participation and reduction of school fees, they and the parents have made a monetary contribution almost equal to our donation amount above. In this way, they have fulfilled their parental and social responsibilities in a particularly exemplary manner.

Reflections – Reflections on our work

We are still intensively engaged in critically reviewing our program and reflecting on our orientation. We would like to share some of our thoughts and conclusions with you.

The original idea of the sponsorship concept was to establish and accompany 1:1 relationships between our “sponsored children” and the sponsors. However, as time went on, we had to realize that the amount of time required could not be handled by our team, as is the case with many other sponsorship programs. In addition, after the first few years, we have come to the safe realization that, with few exceptions, our sponsors neither sought nor missed, and in some cases did not even desire, communication with the sponsored children.

Another important realization took a little longer: personification made the dependency relationship between the donor and the recipient even clearer, especially for the sponsored child who was “obligated to give thanks.” Instead of closeness to the fellows, we experienced subordination and distance and realized that colonial thought patterns cannot be overcome in this way.

For all existing sponsorships we will continue to offer information about the development of the sponsored child. For future SCHULBANK supporters, their monthly support will go toward creating a new, but anonymous, scholarship spot.

Our demand for transparency and communication in this network of donors, scholarship holders and partners has always been very high: monthly newsletters, semi-annual school results for sponsors, 1:1 communication between sponsors and sponsored children, online invoice archive, quarterly parent meetings, annual events with partner schools etc. To be honest, we have to admit that we have not lived up to this claim and that it has also been too excessive in some respects. We found that for some measures we did not take enough time, for others there was not enough time, and for still others there was simply too little demand.

Inspired by the Corona period, we now offer one or two online meetings a year. It’s a format that we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on, and one that gives us more room for told stories and individual follow-up questions. After a long period of silence on our website, we have been able to tell stories about our scholarship holders here again since last year. In the future, we would like to respond to these articles again via a regular newsletter.

The financial participation of scholarship recipients and their legal guardians is important to us in order to ensure their commitment and prevent abuse. Until 2021, we had parents and guardians contribute 30% of school fees and remit the total cost to the schools annually, which was time consuming and resulted in delinquencies. Meanwhile, parents pay ancillary school costs, which are roughly the same burden, directly and to the school.

Over the last 10 years our sponsorship contribution has remained unchanged. We are proud of this, but must also state that we have only achieved this through private compensation payments by founders and association members. Two natural reasons lead to rising costs: On the one hand, schools naturally pass on their burden of rising prices and wages to our scholarship holders. On the other hand, a large number of the scholars who started with us in elementary school are now developing into more costly types of schools. For this reason, we will again increase the recruitment of new scholars in low-cost school types in order to lower the average cost. In addition, we will increase the monthly donation from 30 EUR to 45 EUR as of 01.01.2024. Although this increase cannot be mandatory for existing donors, we ask for your understanding and approval.

Ten years ago, our criteria for selecting applicants were far removed from those of a fellowship program (although here, too, the selection criteria have changed in the meantime). We were concerned that we would be perceived as an elite program. Any applicant who could demonstrate need and pass the school’s eligibility test could hope to receive assistance.

But over time, and with increasing awareness of the comparatively high cost of private high schools, we questioned the usefulness and necessity of placing average and lower-performing students in challenging private schools where they might not succeed and risk dropping out or transferring in frustration.

Therefore, we decided to use the applicants’ academic background and their final grades as criteria for decision-making. This has resulted in stricter admissions criteria for new scholars, and we now recommend that weaker scholars transfer to an easier and less expensive state school without having to leave the program. This cost savings currently allows us to more easily fund scholarships at expensive private schools, while creating room for the creation of new scholarship positions.

In recent years, calls from African voices calling for an end to or reduction in aid have grown louder. These payments, which are often misdirected, reinforce corruption in the country and, over decades, have considerably weakened the individual’s and society’s sense of responsibility for their own actions.

Although we have done a very good job of aligning our program with these risks, we too notice this taker mentality and struggle to understand the situation of our partners, grantees, and other fundraisers. Often, from our point of view, the solidarity of the counterpart for the common cause and the willingness to participate is lacking, which regularly causes us to fall into a motivational hole and causes disappointment. This circumstance increasingly prevents us from expanding our involvement beyond the scholarship program and from taking risks in our collaborations. Admittedly, this is not a shining aspect in this review, but it is just as much a part of it. However, with each meeting of our fellows in Iringa, this aspect fades and confidence returns.

We are very happy about any interlocutor who helps us to work out solutions in the field of tension of development cooperation.

In today’s world, any form of action must meet the requirement of sustainability. Already a decade ago, we set ourselves the goal of investing donations in high-quality education, and thus directly in the sustainable development of people. According to one study, Tanzanian secondary school graduates earn up to four times more than others. If we look at the number of graduates and the quality of their degrees, we can undoubtedly speak of a valuable and sustainable investment. Bravo!

The question still remains whether the construction and operation of an educational facility for hundreds of students would have been a more efficient and thus more sustainable alternative. Because the administrative costs of our program are extremely low, our donated funds go exclusively to tuition and school-related expenses that are ultimately used to fund an educational facility. So the physical goal of donation payments is the same in both approaches. Only the route of the money differs, and offers us as SCHOOL BANK increased flexibility in terms of the size of our program. In addition, earmarking ensures greater security in the use of funds.

In addition, we have set another sustainability goal of achieving financial independence for the program solely through Tanzanian funding within a timeframe of 10 to 20 years. Unfortunately, we are still a long way from this goal, and the prospect of realizing it is visibly fading. Our idea of securing funding by setting up a social enterprise in Tanzania proved to be too ambitious given our financial, but especially time resources. Even government support as a source of funds proves limited, as even Bafög payments to eligible students can only cover a fraction.

Your congratulations, our tailwind:

Feel welcome to drop us a line:

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