For 19 years, STS has been developing the Whole Child Model—a holistic approach to education based on the understanding that for students to thrive, their basic needs must be fulfilled. Rooted in years of research and professional experience, the Model focuses on three areas of need—education, health, and community engagement—so that all children can learn more effectively.
Since 2002, STS has partnered with 36 schools in Guinea to support more than 8,000 students through active learning, local language instruction, teacher training, and girls’ empowerment. We have developed school health policies, provided medical supplies, and constructed wells and latrines. We have also trained school managers, deepened parental involvement, and hosted cross-cultural learning opportunities to increase community engagement in education. Now we’ve expanded to Tanzania, where we have begun doing similar work. So far, we’ve hosted menstrual education training sessions, teacher trainings, and parent-teacher conversations on community support and engagement.
Our research in Guinea shows that when girls participate in our Whole Child Model girls’ scholarship program, they score significantly higher in reading and math than other students. Our efforts led to increased hand washing and use of toilets. Teachers and students showed improved knowledge of hygienic practices. Parents increasingly monitored the sanitation status of schools and established more equitable divisions of chores between their sons and daughters. Parents and teachers have created stronger relationships and begun an understanding of what they both need to do to encourage their students to do their best, both in and out of the classroom.
Our commitment to effective and healthy school environments and supportive communities has made STS a valued partner in the international development community.
The Arusha District Education Office identified Engorika Primary School for STS’s Whole Child Model Focus School due to the school’s strong leadership and the student body’s distinct needs. Engorika’s School Management Committee—consisting of the principal, teachers, and parents—has demonstrated ingenuity in addressing challenges children face in accessing school. Most notable is their organization of walking groups to help students travel safely to and from school. Such engagement suggests that school managers would be active partners to STS’s holistic approach. Additionally, and distinct among the other school in Arusha, most of the students at Engorika are Maasai and live greater distances from urban centers. Historically, this combination has resulted in lower teacher motivation and higher dropout rates throughout primary schools.
Period poverty is an issue young female students in Tanzania deal with on a regular basis. It can prevent them from pursuing the education they want and deserve. Through the WCM, STS partnered with Elle Peut Naidim, a Tanzanian organization that helps realistically manage periods and encourages young women to embrace their bodies. Elle Peut Naidim came to our focus school, Engorika Primary School, to discuss menstrual hygiene and distribute reusable pads.
The Whole Child Model recognizes the importance of support from a child’s community when it comes to education. Our focus school, Engorika Primary School, held a training for parents and teachers to come together to brainstorm and practice strategies for open communication. This will help identify and meet the needs of children whose learning is at risk in and outside of the classroom.