Tanzanian Baha'i school receives grant for new girls dorm
IRINGA, Tanzania — The Ruaha Secondary School, a Baha'i-sponsored school, has received a two-year, US$122,000 grant to build a new girls' dormitory capable of housing 120 students.
The grant, for 141,630 Euros, was given by the Unity Foundation, a Baha'i-inspired development agency in Luxembourg. The first installment of the grant was sent on 19 December 2001.
"One of the main goals of the Unity Foundation is to support the education of girls and women," said Alex Schoos, treasurer of the Foundation. "And that is why we wanted to support the project at Ruaha School."
Located in Iringa, the Ruaha School currently has about 400 students. Founded in 1986, the school is owned and operated by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Tanzania, the elected governing body of the Baha'i community here.
The school's primary mission is to serve the wider Tanzanian community by providing quality education at an affordable cost. One of its major goals is to provide education for girls. More than two-thirds of its students are girls, in a country where fewer than half the students enrolled in secondary schools are female.
"We are really focusing on the education of girls, which is very important here, where traditionally only boys are educated, where traditionally boys are put first," said Becky Fairley, Ruaha's principal, in a recent interview. "We try to encourage girls, to improve their performance. We believe this contributes to raising up the status of women. It changes the way they raise children, and this makes a tremendous difference in the community."
The new dormitory will provide 1,040 square meters of living space, including a 405-square-meter courtyard. Currently, the school has four smaller dormitories that house 260 girls. The new building will increase the school's housing capacity by 46 percent.
The Unity Foundation, a non-governmental organization which was founded in 1991 by a group of Baha'is, has also recently provided funding to a health outreach project in Guyana and a non-profit printing operation in Zaire that produces low-cost educational materials for community development and projects throughout the country.
Funding for the Unity Foundation comes from donors in Europe, mostly from within Luxembourg. Many donors are Baha'is. For the construction of the new girls' dormitory the Foundation received a two-thirds matching grant from the Government of Luxembourg.
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