Mission & Story

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How It All Started

Nurturing Minds and the SEGA Girls School started as the dream of Founder Polly Dolan. Through her work on poverty alleviation and development programs in Africa since 1996, Polly became convinced that Education of Women has a significant impact on global development.

“Only when equipped with a questioning mind can people gain the understanding and tools necessary to address the social, economic and political situations affecting their lives.”

In 2007, Polly began the realization of her dream and was able to attain 23 acres of land in Morogoro, Tanzania, the future site of the SEGA Girls School. She then asked colleagues and friends in Tanzania to join her in forming the Tanzanian non-profit organization Secondary Education for Girls Advancement (SEGA) to be responsible for the construction and development of the Sega Girls School, ensuring cultural relevance and maximum impact.

Polly also enlisted the help of her sister Tracey Dolan to co-found the U.S.-based 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization Nurturing Minds with the mission:

“To educate Tanzanian girls who are poor, marginalized and at-risk of becoming involved in exploitative forms of child labor.”

In 2008, Nurturing Minds committed to partnering with SEGA and to raising funds and providing technical expertise for the construction and development of the SEGA Girls School. And so began our story….

Nurturing Minds and SEGA Girls School Timeline

Over the past years we have received incredible support from our friends and supporters, mostly from the USA but also from the UK, Holland, Canada and Australia. This has enabled us to construct and develop the SEGA Girls School campus and reach our target of educating 200 vulnerable girls each year – for which we are extremely grateful.

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2007

  • Attained 23 acres of land in Morogoro, Tanzania.
  • Formed the SEGA non-profit organization.

2008

  • Received a donation of an additional seven acres of land to make a total of 30 acres for the SEGA Girls School campus.
  • Established Nurturing Minds as a non-profit organization and formed partnership with SEGA.
  • Completed the foundation for the first campus building.
  • The SEGA Girls School opens for 30 vulnerable girls in our non-formal education program in a borrowed classroom.

2009

  • Constructed the first building on campus as a dormitory for the first class of boarding students.
  • Constructed a well and water tower with a solar-powered pump to provide water for showers and toilets.

2010

  • The SEGA Girls School campus received its first class of 28 boarding 8th grade girls and 30 new students for the non-formal education program.
  • Installed solar panels and batteries.
  • Completed phase 1 construction of a second classroom block, a small solar-powered computer room for 15 computers and a dining pavilion.

2011

  • The student population rises to 85.
  • Completed construction of Phase 2 of the campus: One classroom, three dormitories, a staff house and a volunteer house, funded in part by a challenge grant from USAID/ASHA.
  • Established a five-year partnership with Fundacion Paraguaya to develop school-run businesses to ultimately achieve financial self-sustainability.

2012

  • 148 students boarding at the SEGA Girls School.
  • Launched our first school-run business, a poultry farm.
  • Installed a rainwater capture system that, depending on the rainy season, can provide for the school’s drinking and cooking water needs.

2013

  • Awarded a $1 million challenge grant by USAID/ASHA to start the final phase of construction: Two dormitories, two staff houses, an infirmary and nurses quarters, a multi-purpose building housing laboratories, library, computer suite and auditorium, and an entrance way, pathways and fencing.
  • Another 30 students join the school, bringing the total number of students to 180.

2014

  • Self-sustainability plan continues with SEGA’s poultry farm that produces 900 eggs per day;  a newly installed drip irrigation system  allow for garden expansion; and installation of donated solar panels and batteries for new buildings.
  • SEGA graduated its second class of Form IV students/11th grade and welcomes 30 new students to it pre-secondary program.
  • SEGA students broadened their horizons through field trips such a tour the capital Dodoma; the Anti-Ivory club participated in Dar es Salaam’s Fair Trade Expo; and 5 students attended East African Girls Summit in Nairboi, Kenya, to work with other African students in further developing their leadership skills.

2015

  • SEGA Campus completed – 22 buildings comprised of a poultry farm, dorms, classrooms, administration, computer and science labs, library, assembly area, staff and teacher housing, etc.
  • Passing national exams – 100% of the Form III’s (current 10th grade) passed their Form II national exams – including achieving the highest number of ‘A’ grades in the English section surpassing all other subject marks.
  • SEGA starts two new businesses – Poultry Feed Production and Sales and ICT training for local schools and community groups.
  • Anti-Ivory Club continues to grow – with visits to the local national park where 26 students learned more about the battle against poachers and protection to the declining elephant population.
  • Career Seminars and Internship Program developed – students learn from role models various career paths. Several 2014 alumnae participate in internships as they await placement in advanced and / or continuing education programs. Seven interns are placed in human services; fashion design; poultry farming and marketing; teaching and administrative positions.
  • Students Learn Sustainable and High Yield Planting & Farming – sponsored by USAID – scale-able tools for students to give back to their families.
  • The English Immersion Program – comprised of several Philadelphia board members and retired teachers from the United States, this group of 12 spent 3 weeks immersing a group of 42 students in English.  This service learning trip was a huge success and SEGA reports that the students who participated have significantly improved their English fluency!
  • SEGA was awarded the title of “Ashoka Changemaker School” in December of 2015 – which recognizes the school as a leader in empowering students and developing leadership skills. This global partnership opens many significant doors for SEGA to further networking with other schools and benefit from lessons learned across the globe.

2016

  • Paying Students Enter SEGA – As part of SEGA’s sustainability plan, the school is now accepting paying students with the goal to eventually reach 40- 50% paying students. As SEGA’s academic reputation grows, it will attract middle income families who can afford tuition. At present, SEGA has 8% paying or partial paying students. There are 194 students on campus and 42 Teachers & staff & vol (Peace Corp & other volunteers) at SEGA. The school supports approximately 38 graduates with continuing education scholarships (teaching, nursing, accounting, public service, etc).
  • SEGA Grad Accepted to African Leadership Academy (ALA) – ALA students comprise the most outstanding young leaders from across Africa with the potential to drive transformative change on the Continent. ALA is a two year pre-university program based on the Cambridge A Levels and offers unique curricula in Entrepreneurial Leadership, African Studies and Writing and Rhetoric.
  • One Billion Rising – SEGA Students participated in the international One Billion Rising global campaign on February 14th, against violence against women and girls. OneBillionRising.org began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. During this year’s East African Girls’ Leadership Summit, SEGA students had the opportunity to learn OneBillionRising.org’s ‘Break the Chain’ dance and brought it back to SEGA. They learned that they have the power to speak out against violence against women and learned how they can “fight something they hate with something they love”.
  • Ongoing academic progress – Form II exam (9th graders) results from last year came back and all of our students passed. Form IV exam (11th graders) who graduated from SEGA in October of 2015, just now received their results – all but one student passed. Results are similar to 2014, but slightly improved from previous years reflecting a student improvement over time.
  • SEGA New Alumnae Mentoring Program in rural communities–  “Msichana Kisasa”/ Modern Girl”  is now being implemented thanks to funding from Imago Dei and design support from  Population Council.  The goal of this program is to have SEGA graduates mentor girls in rural communities.  SEGA expects to have results from this first pilot by the end of 2016.
  • Student Testimonial for Value of Life skills Program – When recently interviewed, one of our graduates shared an experience in the community college she attends where a teacher threatened to fail her if she didn’t have sex with him–an extremely common scenario across higher education and places of employment in Tanzania.  She said: “I looked at him in the eye and told him ‘I have paid to be here and it is my right to be here and you should leave me alone’ …and the way I said it, so confidently, he left me alone after that…. I learned how to do that from my life skills classes at SEGA.”
  • A Female Empowerment course was developed to focus on gender equality and the power of the girl. Students present a “Woman of the Week” featuring a strong female role model, discuss gender roles, learn about girls all over the world, and talk about what it means to be an empowered girl.
  • SEGA’s Standard 7 class all passed their Standard 7 national exams!
  • 25 Form 4 students graduate in SEGA’s 4th graduation class.

2017

  • TBD!

Summary of Accomplishments

  • The SEGA Girls School campus is complete and we have reached our target of educating  approximately 200 vulnerable Tanzanian girls, in addition to sponsoring its past three graduating classes (2013, 2014 & 2015) for students who are continuing their education.
  • The 30-acre campus has 22 solar-powered buildings, including a computer suite.
  • The school has a renewable water supply that includes a well and rainwater capture system.
  • SEGA has a strong team comprised of 42 administrators, teaching staff, volunteers and support staff.
  • SEGA’s current school-run businesses comprised of a poultry feed production and an on-campus guest house is gaining momentum in generating income and teaching students hand-on business experience that includes the hotel/hospitality industry.

Our vision for the next 5 years is that SEGA Girls School continues working toward its goal of self-sustainability through:

  • Continue to develop a second stream of paying students with Form I, which will diversify the student body and reduce per-student cost for scholarship students.
  • Continue environmental stewardship through solar-powered campus; producing its own water source; organic and fruit tree expansion.
  • Operating businesses that provide a significant portion of the school’s operating budget by 2020.
  • Read our Strategic Plan