iThemba is a Belgian charity organisation aiming to improve the education, health and future of the pupils of Baraa Primary School.
Every child has the right to receive proper and good education. This will give them a chance in life to build a secure and better future.
We are continually trying to improve our school. If you want to know our plans and how you can contribute to them, check out our future projects.
President of iThemba
“Helping Baraa Primary School is a Challenge but also a Blessing”
I consider myself very lucky in life. Growing up in Belgium, I never had to worry about food, education or general good health.
Not everyone is that blessed in life so in 2006 together with a few close friends we created the iThemba Foundation. Via our partner Onsea House in Arusha we were put in contact with Baraa Primary School. I will never forget my first visit to Baraa: no proper classrooms, a horrific smell from the few latrines, children in standard six who, according to their size, would be in Kindergarten in Europe. Pupils in government schools often come from very impoverished families affected by poor health and malnutrition. In iThemba’s opinion the pupils of Baraa were not getting the opportunity of a good education to create a better future.
Our cooperation with Baraa started in 2009 and we can honestly say that the school now has all the necessary facilities to make a difference. Good classrooms, decent latrines, proper school benches and a big vegetable garden.
However, the biggest challenges are yet to come. We are aiming to improve the overall education and create a good foundation to give our pupils the chance for a better future. The level of education at Baraa Primary School has improved over the last couple of years, but we still have a long way. Compared to other government schools in Arusha our annual school results are up but they don’t yet reach the level of the private schools. Therefore we have as of July 2013 volunteers teaching permanently at Baraa. With these long term investments, our short term volunteering program and our cooperation with Belgian Schools and Universities, we believe we can make a difference. The logo of iThemba is a tree just like the one at Baraa Primary School. In order for it to flourish we will have to provide nourishment. What water is to a tree, education is to poverty.
Miguel Van Hoof
Head Teacher of Baraa
“Leading Baraa Primary School is a Challenge but also a Blessing”
As of July 2014 I am the new Head Teacher of Baraa Primary School. I have more than 25 years experience in teaching at 5 different government schools.
When I compare Baraa Primary School to my previous government schools, I see a lot of differences, both good and bad. Baraa has a good infrastructure giving the pupils everything to perform well. The amount of pupils in one class is balanced to an average of 60 pupils per classroom whereas in the past I have seen classes up to 145 pupils. This average puts us on the track of the government policy.
iThemba creates a lot of positive opportunities both in practical teaching as in the management of the school. The cooperation is beneficial and necessary because we face many challenges. One of these challenges is absenteeism, a reoccurring problem often caused by the pupils’ bad home situation in the Baraa Ward. When a pupil is not attending school, we will invite the parents to come to school and when this is unsuccessful, I will personally go to their home to try and understand where the problem lies. Sometimes it is sad and hard to see that parents simply don’t care about school results or that there is no involvement. I try to make clear what the power of education is so parents or grandparents can work together with the school to give their children the education and future they deserve. As a family man, blessed with 4 children and a wife who is a teacher too, I want everybody to know how important a proper education is.
I believe in a good communication at school among teachers, partners and volunteers and I believe we can all contribute in an equal manner to achieve our common goals. Team work is the key to success and therefore we have to work as one, umoja. As a Head Teacher I will even contribute in our soccer matches and defend the colours of Baraa to enhance the feeling of unity. It is my dream to make Baraa Primary School a model school for all government schools in Arusha, to have better school results at the national exams and to provide a secure future for our 1750 pupils.