While primary education in the country is now free, high school tuition and related costs remain expensive. Many families cannot afford the expense and are also dependent upon their children for much of the necessary daily work required to survive.
However, education is highly valued and respected. An education is considered a luxury that families struggle to provide for their children. The promise of an education offers the promise of a way out of a life of subsistence farming and herding.
The Qholaqhoe Mountain area consists of many small, far flung villages. Many of the students walk miles, and hours, to school each day. A few students stay for the school week in small stone buildings near the school. School is released early on Fridays so they can make the long trek home for the weekend to help with family chores.
The purpose of QMC’s scholarship program is to provide scholarship assistance to hard working students so that they can stay in school and graduate with a high school diploma.
Sponsors pay $250 per year, which covers tuition and testing fees. We currently have 67 scholarship students. Sponsors and students share letters and photographs four times per year.
There is an expectation that the students will work hard at all of their courses and do well on their exams. If a child does not attend school regularly and the teachers feel she/he is not doing their best work, they are placed on probation. If their performance does not improve, the staff may remove them from the scholarship program. A new student is chosen for the sponsor.
The most important piece of this sponsorship is that the students realize that someone, thousands of miles across the ocean, is encouraging them to receive an education. This caring and support provides the type of hope these students desperately need.
The scholarships have provided relief to parents who struggle to give their children the opportunity of an education, and they are justifiably very proud to have had their children selected for the program. Parents or guardians attend school meetings and are encouraged to allow their child extra time for studying and coming to school on Saturdays for extra help.
There is an amazing sense of responsibility and enthusiasm for the scholarship program from both teachers and administrative staff of the high school.
Student performance has improved and the Board of Education for QHS feels that the scholarship program has encouraged children to stay in school and to work harder.