Tanzanian Preschool goes from strength to strength…
thanks to help from a Credit Union in Belfast
St Colmcille’s Preschool in Moita Bwawani parish (Arusha Archdiocese), Tanzania has been developing each year thanks to the financial support of St Colmcille’s Credit Union in Ballyhackamore, Belfast. For some years Ballyhackamore has helped pay some of the costs of this Preschool which is an essential preparation for the children who go on to Primary Schooling in the area.
Fr John Gallagher SMA, from Crossmolina (Mayo) is the Parish Priest for the area. He is also the Deputy Leader of the SMA team working in two dioceses in Tanzania. In a recent letter Fr John wrote of the invaluable help he received from Ballyhackamore:
Our PreSchool is going very well, and the teachers in the primary school are so happy with the children, who pass through our preschool, as it makes their work so much easier, in that most of the children have a basic Kiswahili as opposed to those who come straight in from home, with only Kimaasai and no early learning skills.
Your money helps us give that little extra to the children, such as a school uniform and a breakfast each morning. It also allows us to subsidize the teachers salary.
In 2011 a Religious Sister, who was also a trained teacher, arrived to take over the running of the preschool and our parish outreach programme of establishing Preschools in our 13 villages.
The SMA had started the preschool programme in the villages at request of the different villagers who had seen the success of St Colmcille’s Preschool. Now we have the Sister running training days for the village preschool educators. St Colmcille’s Preschool is our ‘model’ school and also serves as the “teacher training centre” for our village Preschool educators.
Four times a year we invite the village Preschool educators to come for a two-day programme (arriving Sunday evening and finishing on Wednesday morning) which provides them with some important basic educational instructions from the Preschool teachers at St Colmcille’s, enabling them to carry out their work more effectively.
We continue to look for outside help to support our preschool programmes because the parents are only able to provide a certain amount (about 50%) of the total cost. If we were to charge normal fees it would ensure that most would not send their children at all. So we ask for what they can afford and we seek the rest elsewhere.
Fr John concludes his letter by expressing his support to Ballyhackamore Credit Union members for their support. In 2010 St Colmcille’s Preschool was listed in First place in the Diocesan Preschool programme, of which there are more than 150 Preschools.