[Editorial from The Citizen]
Education for girls should no longer be the subject of negotiation, especially in light of the fact that females comprise the greater part of the population. As far back as 2003, there were 98 males for every 100 females in Tanzania. There should be more girls than boys in school now, all things being equal.
Yet the evidence paints a different picture. According to the Tanzania Domestic Household Survey of last year, at least 93 per cent of girls from the wealthiest families got full primary education, but only 54 per cent from poorest families did so.
There may be a number of reasons for this yawning disparity, and we can only speculate on some of them. Whereas girls from the former category may be chauffeur-driven to school, the latter often have to walk or, if they are lucky, get on public transport.
The same ritual is repeated when school is over and they have to return home. All too often, there are many distractions for girls caught up in this situation. With this kind of rigmarole, it is small wonder that only half of the girls from poor families complete education in Tanzania’s primary schools.
This is neither fair nor moral. Indeed, such disparities feed class segregation in our society—with one Tanzania of educated children from rich families and another comprising uneducated children from poor families.
No meaningful education translates these days into meaningful life opportunities. This is the destiny of most girls. This is not the Tanzania we want. Since the dawn of independence, we have upheld the dream of a society in which every child has an equal opportunity in education. We have aspired to have a country in which no child is marginalised, regardless of family status.
We should leave no stone unturned in our efforts to erase such glaring differences among Tanzania’s children. There is a saying that educating a girl is educating an entire family. The benefits should be clear enough.
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.
Finally, a new law has been put into effect in Tanzania that will allow the education of one of the most important segments of society, mothers. Previously, when a student at any stage of schooling became pregnant, she would be expelled and any hope of a further education all but erased. The only way she could get back to school was through back-door channels, often involving bribes and cover-ups or private school. Therefore, the only ones who could take advantage of such a system were those whose families could afford it.
The new law will allow young mothers to return to their schooling after they have given birth. While students in countries like the U.S. can attend school even while pregnant, this law does not allow for that, but does give them some chance in the future. How many new mothers will take advantage of this is another question. First, they have had a long gap of several months in their education. Second, once they have given birth, care must be provided for the child. If there is no cooperation on the part of the mother’s family, going back to school will not even be an option, as she must now provide for her child. All the same, at least the option is now available where it once was not. After all, to educate a woman is to educate a nation. If the mothers are not educated, where will their children end up?
(full article here in The Citizen)
By The Guardian Reporter
First Lady Mama Salma Kikwete has said that discipline is instrumental for girl students to excel in education.
Mama Kikwete, who is also Women and Development Organization (WAMA) chairperson, made the remarks here over the weekend when she visited Mpanda Girls’ Secondary School.
She said for years women and girls were denied their right to education, adding that it was now prime time for girls to seriously concentrate on their studies.
The WAMA chairperson noted that early pregnancies had remained a stumbling block in girls’ education.
“You will only get out of that trap if you seriously embark on education. Through education you can be able to identify better opportunities to uplift your families and the nation at large,” she said.
Meanwhile, the government has donated 52m/- for the construction of four class rooms, toilets and a teacher’s house at the school.
The school’s headmistress, Nyabise Sabasi, said the 23-year-old school was facing shortage of dormitories.
“Some students sleep in classrooms,” she said.
This is a good outside opinion by The Guardian on the state of Primary Schools. Unfortunately meeting the MDG targets of universal primary school enrollment has sacrificed smaller class sizes. It also touches on gender roles and expectations for girls.