Guest article - EdUKAid Director
7 January 2020
Nelson Mandela said “From the poorest of countries to the richest of nations, education is the key to moving forward in any society.” Based in affluent Salisbury but operating in one of the poorest areas of southern Tanzania, we at EdUKaid see on a daily basis how true this quote is. Whilst several thousand miles apart, the importance of access to education is exactly the same. The challenges, however, for children in rural Tanzania are very different.
Tanzania is facing an education crisis – with a rapidly growing population the under resourced schools and over-crowded classrooms (up to 200 children in one class) are struggling to cope and often unable to meet even the most basic needs of their children. Compounded by a critical shortage of teachers and those that remain being hugely demoralised, Tanzania is at risk of failing its next generation.
For those living in poor rural areas the problem is far worse. With a population of over 1.3 million people, most families in the Mtwara region where EdUKaid operates are subsistence farmers with very little or no cash income. Many children have lost one or both parents due to the harsh reality of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases threatening the people in the region. Others have been abandoned by their parents and live within an extended family. One of the poorest and most remote regions in the country, educational achievement is extremely low with 43% of children dropping out before their 10th birthday and only 30% enrolling at secondary school.
For children living with a disability or special educational needs the situation is critical with only 5% in any form of education – the remaining 95% hidden away due to deeply entrenched beliefs and harmful cultural attitudes towards difference. Girls, in particular, face huge barriers to accessing education due to poor, undignified sanitation facilities, a lack of understanding of their rights and negative attitudes towards gender. As a result, less than 1 in 100 girls completes their education.
EdUKaid has been working in partnership with local communities in Mtwara for the past 16 years developing highly effective, low cost solutions that have improved the quality of, and access to education for nearly 17,000 children. We have seen dramatic improvements in retention, attainment and wellbeing particularly for the most marginalised children but, most importantly, we have seen a significant shift in cultural attitudes towards education.
One of the important lessons we have learnt over this time is that, whilst there are stark differences, these children have a great deal in common with their peers here in the UK. They love playing football, dressing up, listening to stories, drawing pictures and using their imaginations – they argue and make up, they are good and naughty, they laugh and they cry. We believe these commonalities provide a great opportunity to promote global citizenship and launched a new project last year to support this.
EdUKaid’s School Link Scheme encourages children in the UK to learn about important global issues whilst developing philanthropic values and an appreciation for the educational opportunities available to them. It helps them understand the challenges faced by their peers in the developing world and find out what they have in common. They have the opportunity to connect with their peers in Tanzania through age appropriate communication exchanges and are encouraged to provide life-changing support to a partner school in rural Tanzania through fundraising activities.
If you'd like to find out more about EdUKAid's work please visit https://www.edukaid.com/
School linking provides a unique opportunity to transform the lives of children in both the UK and Tanzania. Your pupils will learn about important global issues whilst developing philanthropic values and an appreciation for the educational opportunities available to them. At the same time, your school will provide life-changing support to a partner school in rural Tanzania and contribute towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. For more information contact Teresa Wells at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01725 514612.