Edmund Rice Sinon Secondary School - Arusha, Tanzania
Edmund Rice Sinon Secondary School
Arusha – Tanzania

Background
Edmund Rice Sinon Secondary School (ERSSS) is a Catholic school for young men and women and is managed by the Congregation of Christian Brothers, East Africa District, for the Archdiocese of Arusha. The school is situated at Sinon near a slum on the outskirts of Arusha, about 7 km from the city centre.

Arusha is one of the fastest growing urban centres in Tanzania with a population of about 520,000. It is the hub of the Northern Tanzania tourism circuit and a centre of agricultural and horticultural activity. It is a bustling centre with a variety of small to medium business and manufacturing enterprises. The average age of the 1.2 million inhabitants of the greater Arusha region is 17.9 years. Hence, there is a great demand for access to schooling. This is reflected at ERSSS where enrolment has doubled in the past 10 years and is now almost 1,400.

History
The initiative for a secondary school came from local village leaders as early as 1984. Originally they aimed to raise funds to develop some of the classrooms that existed at the Primary School and use them for secondary education. Due to financial difficulties, they went to the Catholic Bishop to request assistance for the development of the school. He in turn went to the Congregation of Christian Brothers and invited them to support and eventually administer the school. The Brothers have developed the infrastructure of the school over the past 20 years. In March 1988 the school began in some existing rooms of the Engosengiu Primary School. In 1991 classes were moved across the road to the present site. The funding of the buildings came largely from the Christian Brothers and their network, principally from Edmund Rice Foundation (Australia) (ERFA).

In the space of less than 20 years, ERSSS has expanded its curriculum and facilities to keep pace with the increase in population, the demands of employers and tertiary institutions and the changing nature of the world. The school now has approximately 1400 students who are spread across Forms I to VI and come from various religious denominations. Of these, about 880 are full time boarders while another 230 are hostel students coming to school on Monday morning and going home on Friday evening.

Originally the school offered O Level (Forms I - IV), but with the support of ERFA a new block for A Level (Forms V & VI) was built in 2006.

The school carries dual registration. Not only is it a registered secondary school but also a registered provider of vocational training across a number of disciplines. Today, ERSSS offers a comprehensive range of arts, science and business courses. The school is also a registered Vocational Training Centre with courses including computer studies, home economics, music, textiles and woodwork.

Inclusive Education
One of the unique features of the enrolment is its diversity – students of all races and religions are welcome. Approximately 30 tribal groups are present as well as significant numbers from the following religious groups – Catholic, Lutheran, Muslim, Pentecostal, Seventh Day Adventist and Assembly of God.

The student population target is 224 students at each level from Form I to Form IV and 270 for Forms V and VI, giving a total population of about 1400. The ratio of girls to boys is approximately 40:60, partially reflecting that there are more boarding opportunities for girls elsewhere but also the need for further affirmative action in encouraging girls to further their education, an initiative also being undertaken by the Tanzanian Government.

By creating friendly contacts between students of diverse temperament and background, ERSSS fosters among them a willingness to understand one another.

Student Profile
Rural population - 35% (Maasai tribes 25%) - subsistence farmers whose success is dependent on irregular rainfall
Urban population - 65% - labourers and small traders; many of the mothers have small roadside stalls to raise the fees for their children
Children of professionals - 2% - doctors, accountants, engineers, and government office workers

The school is now able to house over 800 boarders (210 girls and 250 boys in O-Level and 160 girls and 280 boys in A-Level) and 230 hostel students (all for O-Level for 140 boys and 90 girls).

ERSSS provides support to a number of needy families in the Sinon area and surrounding rural villages whose children could not otherwise access an education. This is an important element of the school’s commitment to the local community in addressing both the alleviation of poverty and access to education. A number of past students who were supported through the school have completed their tertiary education and are now able to support their families in accessing secondary education – it is a clear cultural expectation that one is obligated to support the family after achieving personal goals and success. The Foundation’s support is ongoing in enabling ERSSS to continue to provide this educational support.

Current Project
As there are not enough classrooms for every subject for every period, some classes have to be taken outside or in sheltered areas, irrespective of the weather. It is planned to put sides on the hall (a shelter shed), build 2 new classrooms adjoining this and pave the area between for a student dining area as there is no dining area for boarders. Funds being provided by ERFA in 2013 will part-fund the classroom development while another NGO has offered to complete the hall work.

All capital developments over the last 20 years have been funded by overseas agencies, mainly the Edmund Rice Foundation (Australia). St Kevin’s College (Melbourne, Australia) Walkathon funds have enabled much of the building development at ERSSS.

School fees just allow for teacher salaries and other recurrent costs. Fees at ERSSS are in the lowest 5% of private schools to enable the poorer clientele to attend. About 200 students cannot pay fees and are supported by the Foundation, a small number of sponsors and the school.

Leadership
Headmasters following the transfer of administration to the Christian Brothers
Br Frank O’Shea 1994 - 2007
Br Clem Barrett 2008 - 2011
Br Francis Nkwabi 2012 -(Br Francis is the first Tanzanian Headmaster)

Facilities
Administration & Staff Facilities
Teaching Areas
Library
Science Laboratories
Information Technology Laboratory
Vocational Training Centre
Agriculture & Farming Program
Social Service Programs
Sporting Programs & Facilities – including football, netball, basketball, volleyball, table tennis and athletics
Student Clubs
Kitchens

For more information go to: erf.org.au/projects/tanzania/
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