Despite its wonderful scenery and many tourists, Tanzania is officially a low-income country, in the bottom 25 countries for wealth in the world, and nearly half (47%) of its people live off less than £1.35 per day.¹ People here can expect to live until 66 years of age (2015). However, since the new millennium, Tanzania has made much progress, income has increased by 50% and life expectancy by 15 years. ¹https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_percentage_of_population_living_in_poverty
Tanzania came into being in 1964, formed from two separate states – Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Zanzibar is a group of islands off the coast from mainland Tanzania, in the Indian Ocean, and often called The Spice Islands. It is a Muslim country unlike the rest of Tanzania where Christianity dominates. It is semi-independent from Tanzania.
Chuini is a large village on the main island of Zanzibar, Unguja, where people are mostly farmers or fishermen. There is wealth in the towns and tourist resorts of Zanzibar but the countryside is much poorer. It is estimated that 12% of children on Zanzibar have acute malnutrition. The children go to school, on average, for 6 years and only 1 in 8 adults has ever attended secondary school². ² http://hdr.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/TZA
So the students at Chuini Secondary School have teamed up with Hutchesons’Grammar School to try and increase the opportunities for all the children in their local area to get a complete education. They firstly undertook a research project to find out the main barriers to education here, and the best, most appropriate solutions. They did this by interviewing parents, teachers, other members of the community, including children. They then followed this up by investigating the related issue of child labour in their area. Their findings have been summarized and have been presented as PDF files and as powerpoints. These can be found at: https://j8educationalpartnerships.co.uk/research, which is password protected for educational purposes. Please get in touch and ask for the link to access these files.
Increasing Access to Education in Chuini
Having found the main barriers to education and some practical solutions, the students in Chuini and in the UK are just starting to take action. These are some of their actions, so far:
Involving the parents and local community
In order for long-term improvements to school attendance to take place, it is necessary to have the assistance of the whole community and not just the students in Chuini and Scotland. So, the staff and students at Chuini have set up a committee to plan and carry out measures which will increase school attendance. The committee is made up of teachers, school students and other adults in the community and is chaired by the headteacher.
Informing outside agencies
Some of the barriers to education in Chuini require expensive solutions. As a result, both sets of students have written to the government informing the appropriate ministry of their findings and requesting their help. They have raised the issue of child labour with the Minster of Labour in order to persuade them to punish harshly the people who employ children. Applications have also been made to charities and NGOs to assist the financing of a security wall around the school, which will make the students safer and ensure their meagre and much-needed resources are not stolen.
Setting up a social enterprise
The students are investigating the viability of a small social enterprise buying seaweed products from a Zanzibar women’s co-operative and then selling them in Scotland at a profit. The profits would be used to fund improvements to education in Chuini.
Starting a student scholarship scheme
As in all our communities, poverty is a major barrier to education. Fees have now been abolished in primary and secondary schools in Zanzibar but some families still find it difficult to afford the uniforms and stationery that their children need. Students must still pay fees to enter years 5 and 6 and so, as an incentive to younger children to complete their education, the j8 pupils in Hutchie are sponsoring several students in year 5.
A literacy link
In order to improve their English, the Chuini teachers set up a Literacy Club at school. To help with this initiative, the j8 pupils in Hutchie asked a P6 class in a local primary school (St. Vincent’s) to link up with them. Each P6 pupil has a partner in the Chuini Literacy Club and they write to each other, describing books they have just read. The Hutchie pupils introduced the project to both sets of students and regularly send the Chuini students videos of themselves reading short stories, in order to improve their understanding of spoken English. Together, they are also trying to build up a library of reading books in Chuini.