In the last couple of days, I have been searching for ways to select the first Waza recipients of the scholarships. Although I already have a sense of how to proceed, I am also carefully considering other options. One option is to move to a rural school. I am looking forward to Saturday when I will make the trip, about 20 miles outside Lubumbashi. The demographic of students in that village and its surrounding must be consistent enough, with students flocking from a 3 miles radius to attend the school, in order for me to consider offering the scholarship to some of them.
The second option is to grab those who are performing well in school and live in an urban county such as the Kenya county. This county seems to have a considerable number of elementary students who work hard to pay for their school fees.
The third option is to consider street kids as well. These are not in school and may be pretty difficult, but not impossible to reintegrate. Waza does not have enough manpower on the ground to follow up on the street children yet.
The fourth option is to invest in orphans. The issue is that some orphanages may need more than just a few scholarships.
Bringing scholarships was the easiest part. Selecting a few out of many in need is quite a challenge.
While meeting with one of the principals this morning, I came to realize that the government has begun to abolish the school fees in first and second grades in public schools. I am told that this policy is being put in place. Great news! The government has also revoked the FIP (Frais d’intervention ponctuelle), a fee that has been set up by schools in agreement with parent associations. The fee is a supplement to the chronic financial deficit that schools usually face. While the government declares the FIP illegal, it has not yet implemented the Mbudi Accord, a two year accord that has set the minimum wages for teachers to about 200 $ a month.
While fees are being gradually abolished, it is not clear yet how the cost of running the schools will be picked up. The worst case scenario is ending up with schools that are not funded by neither parents, nor the government; are in worse financial situation than before. I approve the school fees abolition policy, but I would like to see safeguard be put in place before or immediately after schools fees have been abolished. This will ensure that the quality of education does not deteriorate.
If any Waza scholars are chosen, it will be from a public school, not private and from third grade up. Although schools have seen about 30 percents of their funds cut by the new schools fees abolition policy, schools are still in dire need of support. But the Waza scholarships are designated for individual students.
What is that? I just heard two gunshots. It is 1:30AM. Hopefully, I will find out what happened. The neighborhood is pretty secured with security guards at a few residences. Security companies have thrived in the past few years too.