Posts Tagged ‘child welfare’

Today Zanzibar is a part of the country of Tanzania, but the island still retains remnants of its centuries of separation from the mainland. After hundreds of years apart, it’s been just 51 years since the island joined with Tanganyika, and this history still shows in the semi-autonomous governance of the island.

So when Tanzania decided to abolish school fees in 2002, offering its students a free primary school education, Zanzibar didn’t immediately follow suit. As of July 2015, however, Zanzibar’s children can look forward to a free primary and secondary school education.

Zanzibar has long emphasized the importance of education. Its first president after unification with Tanzania, Abeid Amani Karume, announced free education within months of his election.

Ali Mohamed Shein, Zanzibar presidentAli Mohamed Shein, Zanzibar’s current president, proposed the new plan

But over the decades, budget shortfalls made the program more and more difficult to maintain. By the late 1990s, parents were obligated to pay school fees for students of all ages, a move which has led to increasing absenteeism ever since.

In the last few years incomes on Zanzibar have risen substantially, as much as 38% per capita since 2010. This increasing prosperity has led to a more robust tax base, according to current president Ali Mohamed Shein. He plans to use these government windfalls to finance the new education program.

After the mainland made the switch to publically-financed education, the number of primary school students in the country more than doubled in just a decade. The Zanzibari government hopes to see similarly positive results from this new program.

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Too often, our idea of daily life in a developing country says more about us, the viewers, than it does about the individuals we’re looking at. Our preconceived notions make it hard to truly understand others’ experiences, the first, necessary step to helping them take positive steps forward.

The Disposable Project puts the power of that all-important first impression in the hands of the people best-equipped to tell their stories: the children of Tanzania.

Started by Raul Guerrero in 2011 in Moshi, Tanzania, the project began when Guerrero simply handed 100 disposable cameras to nine schoolchildren, asking them to document their daily experiences.

Guerrero went on to offer basic photography training to the students, teaching them not only how to frame a shot, but how to use the medium to tell a story.

Credit: The Disposable Project

Guerrero collected the images the children captured—a collective portrait of their community—in a book: The Disposable Project. Proceeds from its sale go to Born to Learn, a Moshi-based NGO that gets disadvantaged children off the streets and into classrooms. Though still small and locally focused, the group has big goals, including its own dedicated school that can take in many of the thousands upon thousands of Tanzanian children currently receiving little or no education.

The images in the book offer a fascinating glimpse into the day-to-day lives of this often overlooked population. Not only are the kids involved in the project gaining valuable skills that will help them have a brighter future, they’re sharing an intimate, revealing portrait of life on the fringes.

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A broad coalition of advocacy groups supported by the Tanzanian government is launching a new campaign to end the practice of child marriage in Tanzania.

Even today, nearly 40% of Tanzania’s girls will be married before their 18th birthdays, giving the country one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. Often forced to bear children shortly thereafter (according to the World Bank, Tanzania has the highest adolescent fertility rate in the world, based on birth rates among girls aged 15-19), girls’ health is often jeopardized, and their education is regularly cut short.

The “Child Marriage-Free Zone” campaign aims to end this practice, damaging both to Tanzania’s women and to the country’s overall efforts to move into the modern world. Headed by the Ministry of Community Development, Gender, and Children, the campaign has partnered with the United Nations Population Fund Tanzania (UNFPA), the Graca Machel Trust, the Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA), and the Children’s Dignity Forum.

Graca Machel—widow of Nelson Mandela and a longtime advocate for women’s and children’s rights—spoke in Dar es Salaam at the launch of the campaign (on August 26, 2014):


Longtime activist Graca Machel spoke at an event launching the campaign

“We cannot continue with practices that harm children, because it’s against any human value that we stand for…we have to change the thinking that there’s less value in the girl child,” she told attendees.

Machel pointed to Tanzania’s ongoing constitutional review process as an opportunity for the country to update its laws to better protect women. She argues that the new constitution must clearly state the legal age for marriage. Currently, Tanzania has conflicting laws dealing with legal marriage and age of consent, and enforcement is lax.

With government officials, activists, and both national and international rights organizations coming together to support the measure, hopes are high that child marriage in Tanzania will soon become a thing of the past.

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Three non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have come together to improve outcomes for runaways and street children in Tanzania. According to recent reports from the groups, 85 children have already been rescued thanks to their efforts.

The project, based in Dar es Salaam, joins Kiota Women, Health and Development (KIWOHEDE); Makini; and Dogodogo Centre [sic]. Launched in 2012, the joint initiative focuses on improving the welfare of street children in Dar, and when possible reuniting children with their families in their home villages.

According to estimates from groups working with street children in Tanzania, somewhere around 10,000 children throughout the country are currently living on the street, where they’re at risk for abuse, exploitation, violence, and neglect. At least 3,000 of those children currently live in Dar es Salaam.

Beyond attempting to reintegrate children with families when possible, the initiative has worked to improve community awareness of the needs of street children and the risks they face. They’ve also opened up drop-in centers, where children can receive three meals a day and first aid kits (which are distributed based on availability).

Children referred to the centers by a social worker are also eligible to join individual and group counseling sessions.

Reintegration into school has been a priority, and KIWOHEDE has started training programs at some of the centers where street children will have a chance to learn vocational skills that can help them reenter society with the tools to succeed.

KIWOHEDE runs counseling and rehabilitation programs for women and at-risk youth, including trafficked women and child prostitutes; works on HIV/AIDS education and outreach; and offers vocational training to women and children looking to improve their lives. Makini (“talent” in Swahili) works with street children in Dar es Salaam through arts outreach programs, helping at-risk youth to discover and develop talents in the arts in an effort to build self-esteem and life skills. The Dogodogo Centre works to promote legislation and influence policy-making to better protect street children, and also provides education, health services, and shelter to children in Dar es Salaam.

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