Education for girls: Good news from the Philippines

THE Sisters of Mary Girls’ Town Schools family of Philippines has a different approach when it comes to education for girls.

While many stakeholders strive to support female students, the Sisters focus on the poorest of poor girls. Selected students join schools and have access to high quality secondary education, with emphasis on both academic and vocational training.

They are moulded to become ideal high school graduates committed to serving the nation, respecting the opposite sex and spreading moral and spiritual values based on the Gospel.

This step, which basically is a response to God’s calling, has truly transformed young students from marginalized members of society, including their teachers into a world class, values driven individuals.

Gradually, the transformation has been contributing to the reconstruction of the society making its members responsive to the needs of time.

The Sisters’ Family, which operates in various countries outside Africa, has been extending a helping hand in community outreach programmes like event participation, free tutorial to out-of-school youth, and providing relief goods to needy or calamity-stricken people.

Developing relationships and establishing rapport with other people through face to face interaction in civic activities. Gathering and discussing with the members of the community, problems and issues that directly or indirectly affect them have been part of the Family's outreach programmes’ objectives.

The family also allows members of the community to recognize the peculiar practices of schools. Share the teachers’ and students’ talents and skills based on the needs of the people, promoting good citizenship.

National pride and workmanship through community service as well as participating actively in civic welfare programs and other similar endeavors in the service of the nation.

With determination to serve the whole world, the Sisters' Family is, for the first time in Africa, particularly in Tanzania, to set up the Sisters of Mary Girls Town School Complex project in Coast region. 

The project is worth about 25 bn/-in its first phase, which kicked-off mid-last week.  It is expected to last for  four to five months, to admit the first batch of about 150 to 200 students to the school from March next year.

The Sisters of Mary Girls’ Town Schools complex in Tanzania  is a-four phase project which will be built at Makurunge area in Kiluvya Ward.  The 40 acre land is a grant to the Sisters family from  the Dar es Salaam Archdiocese of the Catholic Church.

Run by the Roman Catholic Sisters congregation from the Philippines  and  sponsored by various donors, the project is currently set to accommodate 2,000 students, from Form One to the Advanced Level.

Going beyond is a future plan, depending on the amount of funds given by donors,’’ said the project's Vicaress General, Sr Elena Belarmino.

During launch last week, the Vicaress affirmed that the host region will be prioritized in the selection of poorest of the poor girls. "Being a Standard  Seven school leaver and member of a poor family is  the only  criterion to join the school.  We will be collaborating with various public authorities, including local government offices to get the targeted students, " she said.

‘’The girls have been given this opportunity because naturally, women have   many roles to play, ranging from family to national level; hence, the need for girls to be well nurtured from early stages. It is for any poorest child, regardless of one's religious affiliation.’’

As is the case in other countries, academic issues will run simultaneously with entrepreneurship and vocational studies in the name of promoting among others, self- employment for graduates. Upholding one's talent in any field will also be part of the school priorities.

Multi-activities in the school is mainly targeting on promoting self-employment for every graduate including those who for any reason will fail to go for tertiary education, she said. Acknowledging that an individual can improve their living standard through sports, participating in any kind of sport therefore will be mandatory, insisted the Vicaress General.

Again, the school runners believe that engaging in sport activities do activate a pupil's brain, hence, best class performances. Commenting further  on the benefits of  education by the Sisters Family-, Sr. Belarmino said creation of job opportunities for Tanzanians is obvious, beginning with on-going construction activities to fully operations of the school.

Basing on experience from other countries, the Vicaress General said the project will definitely need not less than 60 teachers, adding: "But here, it is the relevant Ministry of Education which has a final say. We look forward to starting talks with the authorities."

The launch was preceded by a Holy Mass. In his sermon, the Archbishop of Dar es Salaam Archdiocese, His Eminence Polycarp Cardinal Pengo,  stressed that  it is now the time for girls to benefit from this opportunity because for many years, boys have  been favoured almost in all aspects of life.

He cited the way seminaries have been favoring boys and totally forgot  that  girls also deserved education. 

"Let the public not misunderstand me. Seminaries have been almost for only  boys, despite the fact that over 90 percent of them do not get into priesthood.

However, this project will not completely ignore boys because the Sisters' Family  long term plan is to get back to teenage boys," said the Archbishop, stressing.

Apart from economic development, prioritisation of education for females will also serve in eradicating outdated beliefs, customs and traditions in a society which has discriminated them for centuries.



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