January 2019 marks 10 years of Hoja Secondary School, the inspiration behind our Schools for Life programme. From a disused tobacco factory to six consecutive years top performing school in the region, what a difference 10 years makes!
The founder of Hoja Project, Oswin Mahundi, decided to establish the school with a group of university students. Oswin was dismayed about the lack of opportunities in accessing education during his youth and decided to rectify this by creating more opportunities for children in Southern Tanzania (and now across East Africa!). In 2005, the region’s average income was shockingly low, where the average person earned just £70 per year, compared to the national figure of Tanzania of £325 per year. The Hoja Project began working with financially vulnerable communities in 2006 and strove towards development through education and increased health awareness.
In 2008 COCO first partnered with Hoja and in 2009 it set up Hoja Secondary School. Since then, we’ve both worked hard to have a positive impact. Here are a few of the highlights!
2009 - Hoja Secondary School was set up in January. COCO funded the first primary school tutoring programme ran by Hoja Project.
2010 - First Form Two national exams were completed. All students passed, and the school was third in the district. The school came 6th out of 156 schools in Ruvuma Region.
2011 – Parents of sponsored students began to be able to contribute 25% of their school fees after sustainable agriculture training. A photocopier was bought for Hoja Secondary to generate income for the school by selling copying services to the public.
2012 - Biogas was installed at the school, so that waste from the composting toilets can be used to cook food in the kitchen. This saves money buying alternative fuel and is much safer for the cooks than burning charcoal and wood.
2013 - Hoja was named the best non-government school in Songea educational region out of 173 schools. Less well performing schools were invited to learn from Hoja Secondary School and their performance went up after visiting.
2014 – A new IT classroom powered by solar energy was funded to teach valuable IT skills and allow for interactive learning. The school became operationally self-sustainable.
2015 – Rainwater harvesting was installed on buildings to provide water all year round for use in cooking, cleaning, drinking and cultivation. Hoja Secondary supported Mshangano Secondary, helping the school improve from near-closure to moving into the top 20 in the region.
2016 - The Tanzanian Ministry of Education certified Hoja as one of the most improved non-government secondary school in the country. Only two schools were awarded this certificate in the Ruvuma educational region, out of around 400 schools.
2017 – E-reader tablets were trialled to allow for interactive lessons and teach valuable IT skills. They also mean that the school will always have relevant books that match the curriculum.
2018 - Hoja Secondary School is about to publish a biology book which will be used by all schools in Tanzania and may be used as a reference book in other countries.
Today, the school is a fully operationally self-sustainable local institution, providing education for 320 students and employment for 15 members of staff. Hoja Secondary School has also acted as a springboard for partnerships with other schools in Tanzania. Our partnership with Hoja has been the basis for the Schools for Life programme.
We can't wait to see what the next 10 years will bring! Donate now to help get our other 14 Schools for Life partners get to the same stage as Hoja Secondary.