Category Archives: Education

Girls education, life education, health education, preschool education, primary education, secondary education, college, adult education, business education, loan program education, vocational education, livelihood education

Revisting FGC

Approaching FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) or FGC (Female Genital Cutting) from a global view is not the answer. In many cultures in Africa, including Muslim, FGC is mothers doing “what is best” for their daughters. It is not the same as ISIS capturing girls and women so that they can produce soldiers and it cannot be compared to sex trafficking. We cannot stop this practice by insulting mothers.
Tanzania passed a law that banned FGM. What did the Maasai in my project area do in response? They started cutting their girls at age 7-8 instead of at puberty, so they could hide the cutting from the government. This is even worse for the girls, because it marks them for early marriage before they even get a good start in school. If they are cut at puberty, at least they have a chance, being older, to protest. Or they can escape being cut until they quit school. An alternative passage ritual to being cut has been developed, so that girls of puberty age become ‘a woman’ without being cut. But if they are already cut, this alternative passage ritual is unavailable to them because they are not pubescent.
We  call it FGC because it is a term that less accusatory of the parties involved in FGC. It is a term that is more likely to achieve the acceptance of the parties involved.
The NGO Tostan pioneered approaches against FGM in Senegal and found that they could accomplish eradication of the procedure at the community level, but it took engaging all the players, the imams, the cutters, the mothers, the men, the elders, and the mothers. And they had to get a buy-in from neighboring communities because their girls who are not cut cannot get married and their grooms would be from neighboring communities. Molly Melching, founder of Tostan, fought against a government ban of FGM, but the government proceeded with it anyway.
For more, see or blog Questioning FGC

Education a ‘Hit’ in the Maasai Harmonial Area

Children singing in the schoolhouse

Children singing in the old preschool

Last Summer and Fall the government built a nice classroom for the Emburbul preschool students. In addition, a safari tourist came by in November, and gave the school some note books and chalk boards. In January 2018, thirty-three preschool students started the new year in their school. Then, a few weeks later, another 39 kids came to join the preschool. The seating capacity of the preschool is 45. So 27 students do not have seats.


Preschoolers with their chalkboards in their new school

We think the reasons there are so many additional students are: 1) we purchased uniforms for primary school students; 2) we are sponsoring some of the students in schools where they will learn English or advance some other way through school, in contrast to the current system where less than half of rural students get into high school; 3) the primary students started going to public boarding school, where not only do they get an education, but are fed more than what their parents can provide. So these three actions have inspired children to do well in school, and parents to support the education of their children.

The answer to the lack of space in the classroom is to build another classroom. The government has not offered to build it, so we are hoping Engineers Without Borders USA will build it.

New uniforms

24 girls and 20 boys going to primary boarding school received new uniforms as an incentive

Last year Maasai Harmonial donors funded uniforms for all of the new girls and some of the new boys. When the school year ended in 2017, the teacher said that the Maasai Harmonial kids did the best of all the students, and the girls did better than the boys!

We are very pleased with these results. They show that even small investments can help kids get through school. We hope that small incentives and small improvements can be made to the school system, and this will help the kids get through high school. Currently, only half of all kids in Tanzania make it into high school because they can’t pass the national exam. Pastoral kids have an even lower chance of getting into high school because they start with the Maasai language, Maa, and then have two additional languages to learn. They live in remote areas and get little chance to practice a second and third language.

We are especially interested in getting girls through high school because then they are much less likely to be forced into an early marriage and genital cutting. Girls who have finished high school are more likely to know their rights, know how to space their children, and to know what it takes to raise healthy children and prepare them for an education.

This year we continued to sponsor three girls in early primary English boarding school and three girls in a high school that takes girls who could not pass the national exam.

Girls who will go to after-school program to learn English and life skills

In addition, we have found a school that will take Class 6 (6th grade) girls, put them in a public school, and tutor them in English and life skills in an after-school/weekend program. The program has had success in giving girls three years worth of education in two years. We are sponsoring two girls. If this works, we hope to send more girls through this program.

Another area in which we hope to make improvements is a classroom for early primary students, too young to go to public boarding school 4 miles (7 km) away. We may ask Engineers Without Borders for two classrooms instead of just the one we want for the additional preschool students.

This year we are also going to purchase health insurance for all the students in primary and preschool, as well as for the married girls of school age. We are also going to encourage adults to go to health classes, when we work out the details with another NGO who runs the classes. Health classes will not only help with general health, but will make women aware of the health advantages of spacing their births, and will make men feel more engaged with their wives health.

If you would like to help fund our education programs, please go to Help support Maasai kids education! It is vital!


Three Teen Girls off to Secondary School and Maasai Harmonial Registered as a Community-Based Organization

In our quest to move adolescent girls out of child marriage and into women’s empowerment, we have found a high school that takes girls who have failed the National Exam. This school is run by the Pastoral Women’s Council, a mighty voice for pastoral women in Tanzania.

This school, Emanyata, has a tuition of only $500 – half of what it costs to send the girls to English boarding school. Maasai Harmonial’s patrons, Ben and Karen, have decided to send three girls and they were taken there a few days ago.

Teen girls, ages 15-16, going to Emanyata Secondary School

The girls’ school was near Loilondo, which is also the region where CBO’s (Community-Based Organizations) can be registered. So our efforts to produce a Maasai Harmonial constitution paid off, and now Maasai Harmonial can hire an administrator, plan projects, and receive funding from private individuals, other NGOs or public institutions.

Maasai Harmonial official registration, January 2017

Maasai Harmonial official registration, January 2017

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Girls Education, Health, Sustainable Development Goals, and Population

Adapted from an article titled “Meeting the Sustainable Development Goals Leads to Lower Population Growth” by IIASA – International Institute for Applied System Analysis See

In September 2015 the leaders of the world under the umbrella of the United Nations in New York subscribed to an ambitious set of global development goals, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which unlike earlier goals give specific targets which apply to all countries of the world. If pursued, several of these targets, particularly in the fields of health and female education will have strong direct and indirect effects on future population trends mostly working in the direction of lower population growth.

An analysis by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) quantitatively illustrates  that demography is not destiny and that policies – such as the recently agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly in female education and reproductive health, can greatly contribute to reducing world population growth.

Based on a multi-dimensional model of population dynamics that stratifies national populations by age, sex and level of education with educational fertility and mortality differentials, we translate these goals into SDG population scenarios resulting in population sizes between 8 and 9 billion in 2100.

Today, the future of world population growth looks more uncertain than a decade ago, due to a controversial recent stall of fertility decline in a number of African countries and a controversy over how low fertility will fall below replacement level, particularly in China.

In 2008 projections by Lutz, Sanderson, et al. gave a 95% interval for the global population ranging from 5.2 to 12.7 billion in the year 2100.

In 2015 a different approach by the UN Population Division gave a much narrower 95% interval ranging from 9.5 to 13 billion in 2100.

Another recent set of world population projections defined in the context of the work of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)  showed in the medium scenario a peaking of world population around 2070 at 9.4 billion, followed by a decline to 9 billion by the end of the century with high and low scenarios reaching 12.8 and 7.1 billion respectively (Lutz et al. 2014; O’Neill et al. 2015).

In this paper the most relevant of these goals were translated into SDG population scenarios to quantify the likely effect of meeting these development goals on national population trajectories. This method shows the world population peaking around 2060 and reaching 8-9 billion by 2100, depending on the specific variant of the SDG scenario.

World population growth is sometimes called the elephant in the room due to its capability to cause environmental degradation as well as in making adaptation to already unavoidable environmental change more difficult (Ehrlich & Ehrlich 1990; O’Neill et al. 2001; The Royal Society 2012).

Population is widely perceived as a politically sensitive topic: the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development explicitly opposed the setting of “demographic targets” saying that the role of the state is to assure reproductive rights and to provide reproductive health services. It is presumably for this reason that the new SDGs do not mention population growth or fertility explicitly in any of the 169 targets.

There is increasing evidence that education, particularly in countries in demographic transition, has a direct causal effect on lowering desired family size and empowering women to actually realize these lower fertility goals with availability of reproductive health services also helping to enhance contraceptive prevalence. Universal primary and secondary education of all young women around the world is a prominent goal in its own right (SDG 4) and is politically unproblematic.

Lowering child mortality and decreasing adult mortality from many preventable causes of death are also politically unproblematic policy priorities. For child mortality the SDGs give precise numerical targets which could be directly translated into demographic trajectories and could be complemented through estimates of the indirect effects of better education of survival at all ages.

The population growth trajectories that would result from the successful implementation of the SDGs will come to lie far outside the 95% uncertainty range given by the 2015 UN probabilistic population projections.

The extrapolation model used by the UN gives all national fertility trends given equal weight, irrespective of whether they summarize the experience of just a few thousand couples or hundreds of millions of couples. In fertility, couples and not states are the relevant units of decision making and  couples rather than countries should be given equal weight, which would greatly change the projection results.

The world community under the leadership of the UN launched an unprecedented global effort to strongly accelerate global efforts in development within the framework of the SDGs. Many of these goals, if reached, will have important effects in lowering future fertility and mortality rates, particularly in the least developed countries. Leaders of all countries and the entire UN system have committed themselves to do whatever it takes to reach the specified targets. This new global effort is  a discontinuity of past trends and hence cannot be captured by statistical extrapolation of past trends.

Policies in the field of reproductive health and female education can have very significant longer term impacts on global population growth. Progress towards reaching the SDGs can result in accelerated strictly voluntary fertility declines that could result in a global peak population already around mid-century. These strong effects of the SDGs on lowering global population growth in a politically unproblematic and widely agreed way provides an additional rationale for vigorously pursuing the implementation of the SDGs.

See for the full article.

Note: This article does list not the benefits of a lower population in any family, community or region. Smaller families means parents are more able to feed and care for their children. Fewer people mean fewer cattle to compete with wildlife over forage. Fewer people means less competition for livelihoods such as beadwork or bee keeping and less competition for jobs. Fewer people means governments are less likely to run out of funds for schools and road building.


Village Conference – Constitution for Community-Based Organization

From Samwel:

We had a good meeting and the number of attendance very good, we discussed a lot family planning and  project that we have in our CBO many ladies were very interested in family planning because I had private talking with ladies before the general meeting, men were asking about water, school, and beekeeping  then I told them all the project are on the process to be done but after the registration for our CBO all projects we will done one by one.

We come also in agreement that all Emburbul students will go to boarding school (free) except standard one (age 7-8) only.


Samwel talking to village gathering

Girls Education

On September 6th, Mapena and Grace took three young girls to Arusha to go to English Boarding School. Since Grace is attending Health College in Arusha, we thought she could be a big sister to the three girls if they were also in Arusha.

The girls will learn both English and Swahili, among other subjects.