Violence Against Children in Tanzania

Study released by UNICEF

Sobering statistics gathered from over 3000 13 to 24 year olds show that sexual and physical child abuse is all too common in Tanzania. Nearly 3 in 10 Tanzanian females have experienced sexual violence prior to the age of 18. The most common forms of sexual violence were touching various parts of the body followed by attempted sexual intercourse. Of those who had their first sexual experience prior to age 18, nearly one-third (29.1%) of females and 17.5% of males reported that their first sexual intercourse was unwilling, meaning that they were forced or coerced to engage in sexual intercourse. In addition, almost three-quarters of both females and males experienced physical violence prior to 18 by an adult or intimate partner.

The location of sexual violence merits careful consideration by educators. While almost one-half of females who had experienced sexual violence prior to age 18 indicated that at least one of their experiences of sexual violence took place at someone’s home, almost one-quarter reported an incident occurred while travelling to or from school and 15% reported that at least one incident occurred at school or on school grounds.

The study casts light on the perpetrators of physical violence against children. Almost 60% of both females and males experienced physical violence by adult relatives and more than one-half experienced physical violence by teachers before turning 18 years of age.

The majority of childhood sexual violence against both females and males occurred between the hours 
of 12:00 (noon) and 20:00 (8:00pm).

The study is a landmark in the global efforts to tackle child abuse. Tanzania is the first country in Africa to undertake a National Study on Violence against Children providing national estimates of the prevalence of violence. The study’s results have prompted the government to develop a five-year National Plan for Prevention and Response to Violence against Children intended to break the silence around violence against children.

With the goal of building and running a school in Tanzania, TETEA needs to remain mindful about the widespread presence of violence in schools, even by teachers, and reflect carefully on how to ensure a safe environment for our future students.

“Violence Against Children is Totally Unacceptable,” by editor. 13 August, 2011.

“Tanzania Study Shows One in Three Girls is Sexually Abused,” 9 August, 2011.

“Violence Against Children in Tanzania.” United Nations Children’s Fund, August 2011.

Making Sense of the Decreased Pass Rate in Tanzania’s Secondary Schools

A number of articles have been published about the 22% drop in the pass rate since the results were released.  Most, like “Mixed reaction to Form Four results” and “Tanzania: Failure of Education System” cite problems such as inadequate numbers of teachers, lack of educational materials, poor facilities, etc.  While these are all issues that need to be dealt with, they are probably not the cause of the massive change in the pass rate as the issues were present in previous years as well. One article from the Guardian, “Why Form 4 failed badly“, actually states what is probably the primary reason for the huge increase in the number of students who failed the examination this past year.  An anonymous source who is a former employee of the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training points out that until 2008 students had been required to pass the Form II examinations to continue to the higher Forms.  That rule was discontinued and now we are seeing the results.

Call to Disband Tanzania’s Higher Education Student Loan Board

The Guardian on Sunday reports that the Youth Wing of Tanzania’s leading political party, CCM, is calling for the dissolution of the Higher Education Student Loan Board (HESLB).  While the loans provided have enabled students from relatively poor families, including students taught by TETEA members, to pursue higher education that would otherwise be out of their reach, complaints include delays in disbursements.  “How come students stage a strike over delayed government bursaries today and on the following day are paid there money?” UVCCM committee member Zainabu Kawawa wonders.  “The government should take these public servants to court for occasioning huge loss,” she argues.  In an editorial, The Guardian on Sunday adds its voice to those critical of the HESLB.  Citing “incompetence manifested by poor record-keeping, late disbursement of funds to students, and a scandalously slow, messy recovery process” the editor recommends immediate dissolution or change in upper management of the HESLB.  The editor argues that this is a necessary step in breaking a disturbing cycle: pent-up frustrations of university students give rise to complaints and protests directed against university administrators who panic and call in riot police to quell discontent.  Additional challenges facing university students mentioned in the articles include “poor accommodation and catering services, shortage of furniture, and inadequately motivated and thus frustrated teachers.” Sources: “It is Time to Disband Students’ Loan Board,” by editor.  23 January, 2011. “CCM Youth Wing Up in Arms,” by The Guardian Reporter.  21 January, 2001.

Half Of Standard 7 Students ‘Illiterate’

This article reports on the results of an Uwezo Tanzania survey assessing the performance of primary school students.  The title is a bit misleading since the language in which half of the students are ‘illiterate’ is English, and not Swahili.  This is still a big problem as the official language of instruction in secondary schools is English.  Furthermore the report states that approximately 20% of primary school leavers are effectively illiterate in Swahili, which still could use some improvement. Full article on The Citizen‘s website

Tanzania’s Educational Revolution Needs Investment

An article describing some of the unintended effects of the rapid growth in primary school enrollment that followed the abolition of school fees, including higher student to teacher ratios, overcrowded classrooms, and shortages of books.  While the article states that the current teacher to pupil ratio is 1:51, I’d be interested in seeing how the ratio would break down if Standards 1 and 2 were separated from the others.  There are teachers who are certified only for teaching these lower standards, but I’ve seen cases where they compose the majority of the teaching staff and, due to the lack of better qualified teachers, end up teaching the older students as well. The full article is available on the Guardian’s website.