How a School in Tanzania Leveraged its Girls’ Network to Respond to COVID-19

In the midst of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, and shortly after adolescent girls were allowed to return to school in Tanzania, Polly Dolan (Co-Founder), Tina Adam (Project Coordinator), and Sarah Hewitt (Board Member/Advisor) of the Secondary Education for Girls’ Advancement (SEGA) School sat with Judith Bruce and Sophie Soares to discuss the severe implications of a crisis such as this on the lives and well-being of young girls and women in the Morogoro region.

The SEGA Girls School a residential secondary school for bright, motivated Tanzanian girls who otherwise would be unable to attend school due to extreme poverty or hardship. Housing over 260 students, SEGA uses a holistic approach to education which includes an academically challenging Tanzanian curriculum, entrepreneurship development, and a comprehensive life skills and leadership program. It’s Modern Girl – or Msichana Kisasa – Community Outreach Program brings key elements of SEGA’s successful Life Skills Program to girls in communities throughout Tanzania delivered through a girls’ club setting by trained mentors. This has enabled SEGA to expand its impact beyond the girls enrolled at its boarding school, mobilizing a Covid-19 response in over twenty-five communities and reaching hundreds more vulnerable girls aged 10 – 18, during the critical age when they are most at risk of early pregnancy, child marriage, and school drop-out.

The conversation revealed a lot – from the challenges of establishing remote learning in a low-resource setting such as that where SEGA is located, to the invaluable role a cadre of young female mentors can play in mitigating girls’ isolation and bolstering their power as social first responders (see our April 2020 webinar for more on this concept), to the very real adaptations that had to be made to sustain support their students when it was needed the most. The result – an hour-long dynamic discussion between the five about the experiences in an emergency and a bright and innovative look towards the future, carrying with them all the lessons learned from 2020.

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The hour-long video is structured around a series of questions.

For more information on the COVID-19 response, be sure to visit a complementary blog post our SEGA colleagues wrote in August 2020 HERE.  (There are also stories from Bangladesh, Uganda, Benin, Guatemala, Mozambique, and indigenous communities of the United States). Please also be sure to read the latest annual report HERE. And for more information on the school and Modern Girl Program, please visit: