Bethsaida recruits its girls from all regions across Tanzania. Currently we have 161 girls between the ages of 13 and 19 who live and study at Bethsaida.
Each year, Bethsaida receives an increasing number of applicants each year. It is a challenge for the school’s staff to decide between the girls who performed very well on their entrance exams and those who most desperately need Bethsaida’s support. Giving refusals is more than hard, but every year Bethsaida’s classrooms are at – or exceeding – capacity. The selection of the girls is based on different criteria: To prove that the girl is orphan, she has to submit the death certificate of both of her parents. Girls with single parents can apply as well, in the special case of their parent being disabled, sick or extremely poor. The girl must have completed primary school (up to Standard VII) and her academic report has to prove that her average grade was at least 50% Every girl has to pass a Mathematics and English test with a certain score. The tests are both written and oral.
The school committee meets and decides who qualifies to join the school. There are always, however, special needs cases, where girls are offered places at Bethsaida even if they do not fulfill all the requirements above (e.g. a completed primary education). This happens when, otherwise, a girl would have no other chance of survival.
How the girls come to Bethsaida
There are different ways in which girls or their relatives find out about Bethsaida. Local parishes introduce the school in church services, others find out by advertisement or hear an announcement on the radio. Prisca who is 19 years old from Form II say
“One afternoon I rested while I was listening to the radio. I heard that there is a school that gives orphans education […] I straightened my hands up and thanked god because my wishes could come true […]. I had to do an interview and test. After three days the results were out and I was one of the girls they selected.” (2009)
Who cares for the girls?
Every girl has a guardian (a family member, neighbour, or a friend of her deceased parents) who is asked to support the girl financially and take care of her during holidays or when she falls seriously ill. Normally it is the school that takes sick girls to the hospital, but it reverts to their guardians when a student is so sick that she needs special care which cannot be provided by the school. However, many of the girls' guardians are very poor themselves and therefore have difficulty in supporting the girls, which is why some of the girls get no financial
support at all.
Most of the girls spend their holidays with their guardians, but the school offers those who have no place to go the ability of staying at Bethsaida. That means that some of the girls spend 365 days of the year at the school.
What does the future hold?
All of the girls that study at Bethsaida School understand the importance of education and value the opportunities that are afforded to them. During their four years of schooling here, the girls study hard and as well as gaining knowledge and building skills, their love of learning grows. They dream of being positive contributors to society and professionals in the future. In order to complete forms V and VI education, the Bethsaida graduates need sponsorship. If you are interested in funding a Bethsaida graduate through further education, your support will be much appreciated.