1.Tell us about your mission.
Nurturing Minds’ mission is to support quality education, life skills, and entrepreneurship to help vulnerable girls in Tanzania become leaders in their communities. Nurturing Minds achieves its mission through the development and support of the SEGA Girls’ School, a secondary, boarding school that improves the quality of life for vulnerable Tanzanian girls.
Nurturing Minds and the SEGA Girls’ School address the issue of inequitable access to and poor quality of education opportunities for Tanzanian girls, especially the poorest, as SEGA targets girls who are out-of-school, extremely poor, are often orphaned, and/or subject to exploitative forms of child labor. SEGA was established with a purpose of improving the quality of life for vulnerable Tanzanian girls through the construction and running of a quality, academically sound, sustainable, secondary girls’ boarding school that fosters the development of strong values, life skills, healthy self-esteem, and independent thinking skills among its students. The majority of SEGA students were forced to drop-out of school due to extreme poverty, or were deemed at-risk of dropping out, but are bright and motivated. Selected from over 20 different communities from throughout Tanzania, half of the girls are orphans and most come from families who are too poor to pay the school fees necessary for them to enter secondary school.
2. How is The West Foundation supporting your mission?
The West Foundation has supported Nurturing Minds since 2015 by initially providing funding for SEGA’s Career Preparedness Program that was at the time fairly new. The goal of this program, which focuses on Form IV students who are in their last year of secondary school, is to ensure that each student has an individual plan following her graduation and is prepared to continue working toward her goal of leading a healthy, financially self-sufficient, and fulfilling life. The Career Preparedness Program helps students apply to continuing education, places students in internships, offers an entrepreneurship certificate, and assists with job placement. This program is critical to the success of our students making a smooth transition from SEGA to further education and employment. Since that time, The West Foundation has provided unrestricted funding that aids in the running costs of the SEGA Girls’ Secondary School and provides basic needs and a safe environment for girls to have the opportunity for academic success.
3. Considering your impactful work to eliminate poverty, how is The West Foundation’s philanthropic support providing you with sustainability and mobility?
SEGA uses a holistic approach to education that encompasses academic, social, and mental factors to help girls escape exploitation and have the communication and leadership skills to stand up for themselves. In addition to a rigorous academic program, SEGA teaches computer literacy; environmental stewardship; life skills that teach public speaking, self-awareness, sexual reproductive health and human rights; career counseling that aids in the transition from secondary school to continued education or employment; and entrepreneurship training where students learn business creation, marketing, management skills, and customer service.
The West Foundation helped us grow at a critical time allowing us to double our class size and increase our presence in the community. We now support 260 girls per year on the school campus and nearly 600 girls (and growing!) in our Msichana Kisasa (Modern Girl) Community Outreach program that brings our life skills program to girls in communities throughout Tanzania with an aim to keep girls in school and help to avoid early marriage and early pregnancy.
4. How are you realizing your potential?
Tanzania has one of the lowest secondary school enrollment rates and one of the highest dropout rates for girls. Although the secondary school enrollment rate is similar for girls and boys, retention drops off significantly for girls as they reach adolescence, mainly because of a high rate of teenage pregnancy, pressure for young girls to get married, a lack of adequate toilet facilities, and high levels of sexual harassment at school. In addition, financial barriers to attending school and deeply entrenched gender roles relegate girls to domestic duties.
SEGA removes barriers to education and impacts students’ lives by providing a quality academic education while nurturing each girl toward being an empowered young woman, capable of planning and shaping her own future. SEGA has demonstrated that poor girls, given basic needs, safety, and remedial learning can have academic success. Seven classes of students have graduated with very high pass levels (97-100% compared to 70% nationally). In 2020, 100% of graduates were eligible to go on to continuing education programs in nursing, teaching, business, non-profit management, and A-levels (an additional two years of advanced level high school required to enter university). Currently, 16 SEGA graduates attend university. Continuing education scholarships are provided for every SEGA student who chooses to pursue that path.
5. What’s one important thing you want others to know about your organization?
SEGA has a major effect on its students in knowing their human rights, being able to speak knowledgeably and confidently, and teaching them a range of skill sets that help them tackle the myriad societal issues affecting their lives negatively. Each girl who passes through SEGA’s program graduates knowing that she has the same intrinsic value and the same rights as anyone else on this earth.
6. How can people reading this help you?
- Visit the school and stay at the SEGA Lodge!
- We are unique in that we offer accommodations for up to 24 people on our 30-acre campus that is securely protected by a gated, supervised entrance and fenced perimeter. Visitors are encouraged to share your skills and expertise with SEGA students such as computer training, media projects, arts/crafts, or sustainable farming. In return, SEGA students will give you lessons in preparing Tanzanian snacks, traditional dancing, and engage in storytelling and debate. Revenue from the Lodge provides a critical element to SEGA’s financial sustainability goals.
- Sponsor a SEGA student.
- Sponsoring a student at SEGA is a meaningful way to support our important work and connect with and follow the progress of one SEGA student. It provides a scholarship for their education and gives you first-hand experience seeing how your contribution to the school is making a difference, offers a cultural exchange and helps girls improve their English. Committing to 4 years is a great and stable way for the girls to get to know their sponsors, and also for you to cheer them on throughout their time at SEGA.
- Whether you choose to make a general donation, or contribute to our student sponsorship program, we are committed to keeping you informed about how your support is making a difference.
- In Tanzania
- Volunteering at SEGA is a great way to have a positive impact on the lives of every student at the school. We offer week-long or three-month service learning opportunities for volunteers that offer capacity-building skills such as English as a Foreign Language (EFL), Information and Communication Technology (ICT), and Marketing and Communications.
- In the U.S.
- Your help is critical to our success! There are many ways to volunteer with Nurturing Minds to feel connected to SEGA and the students. Join (or start) a regional chapter, become a school partner by starting a SEGA club at your school. Engage your church or community group to become involved.
- In Tanzania
7. What are your deepest needs as an organization?
Our deepest need is financial support for salaries and training for SEGA’s 22 teachers.
The SEGA School’s academic success depends on well-educated and highly qualified teachers and teacher-training. Throughout Tanzania, insufficient investment in the educational system has resulted in extremely high failure rates due to poorly trained teachers and a Tanzanian pedagogy that stresses top-down, rote memorization. This has created a barrier to advancing education across the country.
SEGA knows that its teachers are the glue that holds the school together and are the role models who inspire our students. SEGA does its best to select and retain strong, qualified teachers who adhere to a participatory approach to education. They are supported through ongoing teacher training and peer observation, encouraged to continually provide input to improve the school, and given a competitive salary in an effort to reduce a traditionally high teacher turnover rate.