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Do hostels and dormitories necessarily support girls` education?

16th July 2012
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On Saturday, 7th July 2012, Tanzania Education Authority (TEA) in collaboration with Global Publishers Limited held fundraiser event at the National Stadium, here in Dar es Salaam. The event dubbed as ‘Usiku wa Matumaini (The Night of Hope)’, aimed at collecting resources through entrance fees in order to support TEA’s campaign on construction of girls’ hostels in secondary schools in rural areas in Tanzania. The event was very successful in-terms of turn up and people’s motivation towards supporting this initiative.

However, the official inauguration of this campaign was done on Saturday 14th July 2012 at Kibaigwa Secondary school premises, Kibaigwa town, Kongwa District in Dodoma. The event was graced by Honorable Ummy Mwalimu, the Deputy Minister, Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children; and various dignitaries including the Dodoma Regional Commissioner, Honorable Dr. Rehema Nchimbi, Deputy Speaker of National Assembly, Kongwa Member of Parliament, Honorable Job Ndugai, Shadow Minister for Education and Vocational Training, Honorable Suzan Lyimo and other prominent government officials and members of parliament and education stakeholders. It was a very successful approximately 30 million of cash and pledges were collected on spot.

Kibaigwa Secondary School (Dodoma) is one of the 8 targeted schools countrywide to benefit from this campaign. The campaign will support other secondary schools in various regions namely Manyara, Tanga, Lindi, Musoma, Ruvuma, Geita and Kigoma.

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.

It should be noted that implementation of Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP) in Tanzania has led to more demand for secondary education. PEDP increased the number of pupils enrolled in Primary education from 4,881,588 in 2001 to 8,419,305 in 2010.

Through Secondary School Development Programme (SEDP) efforts have been made to construct new secondary schools through massive community mobilization to accommodate this big influx of primary school leavers hence, the number of public secondary schools increased from 1,745 in 2005 to 4,266 in 2010. As a result students’ enrolment in secondary schools increased from 524,325 in 2005 to 1,638,699 in 2010.

Most of the constructed Community Secondary schools are non residential. However, given the distance that students have to walk to and from schools, need arose for construction of dormitories for both male and female students. The most vulnerable group in the problem of lack of dormitories being girls living very far from schools and those coming from difficult environment.

Despite Government’s efforts in curbing challenges in education sector gender disparities in enrolment at upper secondary and tertiary levels of education still emerge as a challenge to work on.

Furthermore, retention and performance of girls in secondary education has been another impediment in promoting gender equity in education provision. Unconducive learning environment, early pregnancies and marriages contribute significantly to school dropout hence affecting retention of girls in secondary education.

According to Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MoEVT) statistics 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.

Is there any justification for initiating a campaign to construct hostels for girls as what TEA is doing?

The Secondary School Development Programme (SEDP II) has noted declining gender parity ratio from about 48 percent girls and 52 percent boys in 2004 to about 45% and 55% respectively. Hence one of the strategic objectives of SEDP is to ensure access to and equitable participation in secondary education. The outlined key targets include a total of 100 girls hostels accommodating at least 48 students each are constructed by 2015 some 50 ablution and latrine blocks for girls in schools are constructed annually and communities encouraged and organized to build and run hostels for at least 5 of their schools per council by 2013.

Influx of students in the primary education sub sector has had multiplier effect in higher levels of education with regards to expand enrolment, infrastructure, teaching work force and resources which the Government effort alone cannot sustain.

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.

May be we should look into few scenarios which show effect of lack of dormitories to girls’ education. From 21st to 31st May this year, Tanzania Gender Network Programme (TGNP) followed up gender related challenges facing female citizens in rural areas in Iringa. There were a lot of challenges mentioned however teen pregnancy among students at Iwalanje Community Secondary School became prominent.

The school is located very far from many households. Students walk between 4 to 8 kilometers from their villages to school. In order to be able to be close to school, many students hired rooms famously known to them as ‘ghetto’. Living in such environment girls spend a lot of time to fetch water and firewood and cooking their meals, and other distracting issues instead of concentrating on studies.

In these ‘ghettos’ a mixed of ordinary community members, boys and girls live together, which has lead girls to be enticed to immoral behaviours. This has lead to failure in academics, face sexual abuse such as rape, teen pregnancy, and threats of contracting HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections.

Another scenario was recently reported in the media that statistics from the Kiomboi District Court show that there were 22 rape cases in the district from January 2011 to April this year. This was revealed recently in a survey conducted by The Guardian newspaper in collaboration with the Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA). The study was meant to check the size of the problem of gender-based violence in Iramba district.

The survey reported that rape incidences to secondary schoolgirls are fueled by lack of dormitories as most secondary schools lack dormitories and the schools are located far from the villages. Therefore, parents are forced to hire rooms for their children just close to the schools. Even rooms considered as dormitories are not safe, as a result men force their way inside and rape girls.

According to the report, Dr Jabir Juma, the acting Iramba District Medical Officer, said most of the raped girls are exposed to Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and in some cases they are infected with HIV, the virus that causes Aids.

The third scenario was also reported in one Swahili newspaper in the country. Grace Nzongo is a Form Two student at Chanzuru secondary school in Kilosa district, who reveals that despite her passion for education, there are a number of hindrances toward reaching her optimal dream in education.

Grace has to walk a total distance of 30 kilometers (15 kilometers each way) everyday to and from school, which hinders her to concentrate on studies due to tiredness. She has to wake up at 5 am and reaches school at 9 am! Finding the first period is over. This situation has continuously been demoralizing her. We might not be surprised if we hear that she has quitted going to school, isn’t it?

The last scenario was reported in Radio Free Africa of female students at Msafiri secondary school in Rufiji District council, Coast region, who sleeps on floor of their dormitory due to lack of beds and mattresses. This environment threatens them to contract rheumatism and other dust-borne diseases. The dormitory was constructed in 2007, but since then beds and mattresses are yet to be provided!

The above scenarios and more happen across the country. I have decided to bring awareness to you on the plight of female students in secondary school schools with difficult environment, providing information of TEA’s Campaign on Construction of Girls’ Hostels in Secondary Schools and call for your material and support proposal of support to address this challenge of gender equity in accessing quality secondary education.

The focus of this campaign is on constructing girls’ dormitories in secondary schools that are in remote areas. If funds are available the focus therefore will be on the regions which are more prone to the problem of girl drop out due to pregnancy, regions inhabited by pastoralists who move from one place to another in search of pastures, area where the prevailing culture does not favor education for girl child and community schools and those schools that have started construction work on girls’ hostels and only need funds to finalise the works.

The planned intervention is expected to bring about the following major results:

(a) A total of 300 girls’ hostels in 8 secondary schools constructed;

(b) 1,504 girls students accommodated and retained to completion of secondary education;

(c) Girls’ students participating fully in their studies and their academic performance improved;

(d) Girls’ students drop out rate from schools reduced.

The estimated cost of constructing one hostel is Tshs.78.0 Million. For 30 girls’ hostels about TShs.2.3 Billion 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: info@tea.or.tz.

 

The writer Masozi Nyirenda is a specialist in Economics of Education and Finance, Education Planning, Management and Policy Studies. He is reached through: masozi.nyirenda@gmail.com or +255754304181.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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