Lack of dormitories in secondary schools puts girls at high risk of sexual harassment, pregnancies, early marriages and poor academic performance.
Last Friday, February 1, 2013, I participated in a press conference and handover ceremony of construction materials, which were 1,530 pieces of corrugated iron sheets worth 30m/-, donated by two prominent corporate.
The National Housing Corporation (NHC) donated 1,000 pieces of corrugated iron sheets worth 20m/- while MM Integrated Steel Mills Limited donated 530 pieces of corrugated iron sheets worth a total of 10m/-.
These corrugated iron sheets are expected to roof about nine hostels which can accommodate more than 400 female students. The ceremony took place at the Tanzania Education Authority (TEA) premises in Dar es Salaam.
The above donation was a part of fulfilling pledged of these two corporate during a fundraising campaign dinner gala which was organized by TEA on November 24 last year, with the aim of collecting resources for construction of 30 girls’ hostels in eight secondary schools in Dodoma, Manyara, Tanga, Lindi, Musoma, Ruvuma, Geita and Kigoma.
The campaign was officially inaugurated on 14th July 2012 at Kibaigwa, Kongwa District in Dodoma. The event was graced by the Deputy Minister, Community Development, Gender and Children, Ummy Mwalim; and various dignitaries including Deputy Speaker of the National Parliament, Job Ndugai, who is also a Member of Parliament from Kongwa Constituent, members of parliaments and education stakeholders. Kibaigwa Secondary School (Dodoma) is one of the 8 targeted schools countrywide to benefit from this campaign.
Since inauguration of this campaign a series of public awareness activities including fundraising events have taken place. Some of these activities is the fundraising ceremony at Kibaigwa Secondary School which took place on July 14, 2012, in Dodoma; ‘Usiku wa Matumaini (The Night of Hope), was organized jointly by TEA and Global Publishers Limited, which took place on July 7, 2012; a gala dinner which was organized by TEA and took place on November 24, 2012, just to mention a few let a series of media programmes. Since last year, this campaign has been able to mobilize a total of 291m/- in cash and material.
All these events were very successful in-terms of turn up and people’s motivation and commitment towards supporting this initiative. Therefore, this handover ceremony was a result of a series of lobbying, advocacy and marketing of the campaign done by TEA.
The handover ceremony of 1,500 pieces of corrugated iron sheets was attended by officials from TEA, NHC, MM Integrated Steel Mills Limited, Kibaigwa District Secondary Education officer (representing Kibaigwa District Executive Director), Headmaster of Kibaigwa Secondary School (representing all heads of schools whose schools will benefit from this campaign) and the Media.
Making an introductory speech, Rosemary Lulabuka, TEA Director General, hinted that stakeholders’ partnership and participation in supporting education sector is vital for personal and national development.
She argued that government alone cannot afford to meet all costs of education in the country, therefore, it established the Education Fund through Education Fund Act No. 8 of 2001, with the aim of mobilizing and motivating various stakeholders to contribute resources in order to improve quality of education, its access and equity at all levels.
It was explained that main sources of revenues for the Education Fund are government subvention and various contributions and donations from education stakeholders. These resources are allocated to public and private education institutions in terms of grants or soft loans.
Mrs Lulabuka highlighted that TEA Board approved this campaign because it was deemed that in order to have quality education, it was necessary to emancipate girls from various social challenges such as unconducive learning environment, early pregnancies and marriages which hinder their progress up the education ladder. On behalf of TEA Board she extended her gratitude to these corporate and appeals for other corporate, individuals and society at large to support TEA’s course and emulate the same especially in fulfilling their pledges.
On the other side, Ms Susan Omari, NHC Head of Corporate Public Affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility, who represented the NHC Director General, confirm that her corporate supports development of education sector in Tanzania due to awareness in the role of education in the national development.
She cautioned that education is becoming a very important component in determining our social and economic progress especially in these times we have been integrated into East Africa community. Therefore, TEA’s campaign is part and parcel of improving the quality of graduates who will be ready to compete in the East African competitive job market.
It was enlightened that NHC has a community development policy which guide the corporation in supporting various sectors including education sector. NHC has been motivated to support this campaign being aware of the plights facing female students.
Schools such as Kibaigwa Secondary School is located in the vicinity of the international maize market at Kibaigwa while it does not have any hostel for girls, which poses a threat for welfare of girls as goons can take advantage of girls’ poverty in enticing them into indecent relationships.
NHC appealed to the Kibaigwa District authority to consider upgrading Kibaigwa secondary school to high school status after completion of the hostels.
A representative from MM Integrated Steel Mills Limited, Abubakar Mlawa, informed the audience that his company is a renowned stakeholder in supporting various development initiatives including education which they know is the key of development in the world.
He further clarified that one of the company policy is to support education development regardless of color, religion or gender. The company has supported various education development initiatives through district councils, communities and the Education Fund. The company has previously partnered with TEA in various education projects.
Annually, the company sets aside a total of 500m/- to support the education sector alone for construction of classrooms or dormitories; purchase of teaching and learning facilities especially where the communities have started construction projects through their own resources, supporting school fees for children from poor families as well as assistive devices.
It was revealed that MM Integrated Steel Mills Limited is a company with unique staff support policies when it was revealed that the company provides fee support for all children of their staff who have been selected to join secondary education. The company continuously supports these children until the maximum levels of education they can afford to reach as per their academic performance.
Mr. Timothy Bernard, who represented Kibaigwa District Executive Director, commended the provided support which will emancipate girls from many challenges. He argued that girls’ emancipation through education will support family, community and national development.
He concurred with the recommendation to upgrade Kibaigwa Secondary School to high school status. He informed the audience that currently the school has two science laboratories and plans are underway to construct more laboratories. He insisted that revolution in science has supported most of South East Asian countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and others to achieve rapid and robust economic growth.
It should be noted that girls’ education is one of the most challenging tasks in most countries in developing countries particularly African countries. Girls’ education is more affected as a result of conflict, poverty, lack of access, and other social-cultural barriers.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, 28,600 girls left school between 2004 and 2008 because they became pregnant. While a total of 16,656 girls were expelled from schools between 2008 and 2010 due to pregnancy cases. This means between 2004 and 2010 a total of 45,256 female students dropped out of school due pregnancy cases, leave alone other reasons!
Lack of dormitories in secondary schools has forced students especially those who resides in areas far away from the schools to rent rooms in neighbouring surroundings. This situation puts girls at high risk of sexual harassment, pregnancies, early marriages, poor academic performance due to poor learning environment (cooking, fetching water etc) causing them to fail or drop out of school.
It has been revealed that despite the Government intervention the problem of girls’ hostel is still overwhelming. The demand is escalating with the increasing number of secondary schools being opened. It is widely agreed that we have a problem and is continue to grow every day. It is time we do something about it.
Form the support obtained from NHC and MM Integrated Steel Mills Limited, it has shown that supporting girls’ education need forging of strong partnership between public and private corporate, communities and individuals.
The estimated cost of constructing one hostel is 78.0m/-. For 30 girls’ hostels about 2.3bn/- will be required for construction work.
TEA is requesting support from you for construction of girls’ dormitories in secondary schools to ensure girls’ retention and improvement of their performance. TEA has effective financial management mechanisms and systems to ensure that funds received from contributors or donors are effectively and efficiently utilized.
It is my expectations that you will extend the sought financial support to TEA. For details please contact me or Director General, Tanzania Education Authority, P.O. Box 34578, Dar es Salaam, Mobile No. +255784664488 or Information, Education and Communication Manager (TEA) Mobile no: +255784208799; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The writer is a specialist in economics of education and finance, education planning, management and policy studies. He is reached through: email@example.com or +255754304181.