Funded by TEMBO Canada and officially opened in February 2015, the Longido District Learning Centre is a hub of activity for the entire Longido community where young and old learners gather to further their informal education. It houses a children’s and adult library, a computer centre, a study hall for independent learners, classrooms and meeting rooms. It is a space for preschool classes, adult literacy classes, a tailoring program for women and a space for community meetings. It also accommodates a host of school children who love to drop in after school to use the library. The Learning Centre has a staff of 8 including 3 teachers funded by the Longido District Council.
“The ABC’s of Sewing”
In November 2018, Learning in Longido launched a new tailoring program for women. The program was open to 20 women in the community, all of whom had attended LIL’s adult literacy program. Five women from four remote villages registed for the one-year program. After attending to family duties, the women walked between 2 and 8 km. to the Learning Centre eager to learn how to sew a school uniform. If they could learn this basic skill, they would have more money to spend on food and basic supplies, and perhaps sew uniforms for other families in the village.
On Monday, Tuesday and Friday afternoons, the women crowded into a small room with dedicated for the tailoring program. From outside the room, one could hear the thumping sound of a treadle sewing machine, the voice of the teacher providing instructions on how to make a pleated skirt and the constant chatter of women.
At the end of the one-year program, the women had acquired the skills to sew a simple white blouse, a pleated skirt and dresses for children. Recognizing that the women wanted and needed more instruction to become independent tailors, the program was extended for an additional year. In December 2020, 19 women graduated from the project with hopes of starting a small sewing business in their villages.
In January 2021, Learning in Longido welcomed the second cohort of 20 women for the tailoring program. Today, the sewing machines continue to hum and the women continue to learn.
John Kilusu: “Education is the light and will serve me for life.”
John left Longido Secondary School in the middle of Form 3. He is from a traditional Maasai family. His father has four wives and a total of 30 children. Four of the children went to primary school; the rest have no schooling. John has been out of school for 3 years and is now 18. At home, there is nothing for him to do and there is no work. He wants to go to school but “my father is a colonial man. He is not supporting me. He gives me permission to go to school but no money.” When John heard about the Learning Centre he was there the following week and attended the independent study program for 18 months. In 2018, John received special permission to return to secondary school and, after two years of study, he graduated from Form 4.
Today, John is in year 2 at teacher’s college studying to become a physics teacher. He wants an education to help his family and to help them have better health. In his words: “Education is the light and will serve me for life”.
Margaret Obedi: “There is no centre like this in my community.”
“I am Magreth Obedi. I come from Arusha. I am a Form III student at Muklat Secondary School. I knew about the learning centre since 2019 when I joined the Pre-Form 1 program. Since that time I travel from Arusha to Longido in order to use the learning centre for tuition and self studies. There is no center like this in my community. There is only a small library at school where we are not allowed to borrow books to take home. This holiday I took four subjects for tuition: Math, chemistry, biology and physics. These are hard subjects but I like them. I always enjoy using the learning centre.”
The Longido District Learning Centre provides a 12-week pre-form 1 program for boys and girls who have completed Standard 7. This program helps prepare the students for studies at the secondary school level.