The challenges faced by rural communities in Africa run the gamut from limited access to essential services to the impact of climate change on their subsistence crops, and myriad other issues affecting their quality of life. One of the main objectives of the Singita Grumeti Fund (SGF), Singita’s not-for-profit conservation arm in Tanzania, is to assist the local population in realising their development goals, of which education is a key focus. Through its community outreach work, the SGF identified a common problem that affects young learners all over the country: primary school is taught in Swahili but secondary school is taught in English.
Transitioning from the one medium to the other proves challenging for many children studying the national curriculum, who are expected to read, write and speak in English in order to pass their exams. A collaboration with the world-renowned Concordia Language Villages, a US-based language and cultural immersion programme, provided a wonderful opportunity to offer children from the villages neighbouring Singita Grumeti additional support in the form of extra English lessons.
The Environmental Education Centre, from which the SGF runs week-long, residential courses, was the ideal location for the English immersion camp. The facility hosted 90 third- and fifth-grade learners from the local community over the month of June, while their local schools were on break. They honed their grasp of the English language through fun and engaging language lessons, crafts, singing and dancing, inspiring the Dean of the programme, Patty Gulsvig, to remark “The children are so eager and excited to learn! Each day they are in camp we see a growing confidence in speaking English as they learn new vocabulary.”
The camp’s positive reception and its resounding success with the students means that the SGF now plans to expand the project and integrate it more fully into the Fund’s education portfolio. This project, along with an existing scholarship programme, the operation of the Environmental Education Centre and all the other conservation and community outreach schemes underway, is only sustainable with the support of partners like Singita and the generosity of guests. Donations from visitors to Singita Grumeti who are touched by the vulnerability of its wildlife and its people allow for the SGF to continue its important work – enhancing access to quality education, teaching environmental awareness, promoting responsible natural resource management, and support the establishment of small businesses.
Children who develop in structured and stimulating environments are better able to form the strong cognitive, social, spiritual and physical foundation they need to succeed in later life. Singita’s education projects in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania help to improve the prospects of hundreds of children, making a tangible difference in the lives of the people living and working in and around its lodges. Learn about our evolution as a conservation company here »
Images courtesy Madeline Malat