BRAC: Empowering disadvantaged girls through education, skills

06Jan 2019
Crispin Gerald
Dar es Salaam
Guardian On Sunday
BRAC: Empowering disadvantaged girls through education, skills

IT is estimated that over 40 per cent of Tanzanian’s adolescents are unable to access quality secondary education, with girls in particular still facing many barriers to secondary education.

TANZANIAN ADOLESCENTS

Various reports show that over 8,000 girls drop out of school each year in the country due to pregnancy.

To improve the situation, BRAC organization which is based in Tanzania, has devoted itself to working in improving the lives of girls living in poverty through the acceleration of secondary education programme which targets out-of-school girls.

Speaking during the 2018 Empowerment and Livelihoods for Adolescents (ELA) graduation ceremony held in Temeke district recently in Dar es Salaam, Programme Manager - Education for BRAC Tanzania  - said the initiative has succeeded through strong collaboration with the government through social welfare officers who provided consultation support.

BRAC, a global leader in developing and implementing cost-effective education, is working to assist girls aged 10-24 achieve greater economic and social empowerment by providing safe spaces, training in life skills and mentorship. 

“Our girls are at least 16 years old, who are out-of-school or those who are single mothers,” she said.

According to her, a total of 4,282 girls have received life skills-based education while 1,985 girls have received livelihood training to support income generation.

She added that they also offer livelihood training and microcredit support, allowing them to launch independent businesses in fields like tailoring, hairdressing and small-scale agriculture.

"We have 8,000 enrolled girls, 5,400 of whom are regularly active in 180 clubs in four geographically diverse regions of the country: Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Mbeya and Iringa," she explained.

So far 8 coding clubs have been opened in Mbeya, Dodoma, Dar es Salaam and Iringa regions while 4,000 members have received awareness training on sexual and reproductive health.

 “We also work with communities and local government authorities to conduct community-based schools that give girls a second chance for education,” said Bipa. 

“But we also team up with the government to support primary schools with learning materials, library facilities and after school tutoring,” she added.

Bipa said the empowerment and livelihood for adolescents (ELA) is based on improving the quality of life for young girls by providing safe spaces for them to meet every day.

"We also provide livelihood, vocational and financial literacy training and also give customized microloans to empower young girls financially and socially. We took a stance against gender-based violence," she pointed out, adding:

“Together we have made giant strides in development whereby our intervention has benefited more than 4.14million Tanzanians across 25 regions in the Mainland and in Zanzibar.”

Bipa added that they have handed over materials to 134 girls so they can begin their journey of economic independence by establishing their own businesses.

These include sewing machines, gas cookers, hair dryer and make-up packages, beads and ornaments, batik materials and chemicals and ribbons for decorations.

The materials were handed to girls who have successfully completed their training under the ELA project, which is active in Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Iringa and Mbeya regions.

“Under the project, more than 5,262 girls have received life skills-based education as part of developing their skills. I am pleased to report that today the 232 girls who are graduating have received livelihood training in batik making, food production, tailoring, interior design, harnessing and beauty, jewellery and culture making to support and encourage the establishment of income-generating activities.

“I would like to thank all parents for support you have provided to your children throughout their time with us. As they begin a new journey, we are optimistic that parents will reap the benefits of their hard work."

Hanifa Mruma, a social development officer in Temeke district, said the government applauded the initiatives taken by various organization (NGOs) to push for the rights of marginalized girls.

She added that such initiatives help to reduce the burden of street girls and children, which the government has been struggling to control for a long time.

Hellen Peter, one of the beneficiaries, hailed the initiatives taken by BRAC to assist girls with better entrepreneurship skills and supporting them to overcome poverty.  

Hellen, who is also a mother of one baby residing in Temeke district, said she has pursued tailoring skills provided by BRAC, from which she also received a tailoring machine as a start-up tool to develop the skills.

“Having the machine is the beginning of my success. I will make sure I work hard until I have my own company where I will employ others,” she said.  

She said in an interview that she got pregnant at the age of 16 when she was still in secondary school.

She said she was in great need of basic social needs including food, shelter and pocket money, cash for paying hostel accommodation and also for her school fees.

“It was sad to me that my parents, whom I trusted a lot, did not support me,” she added.

“Every time when I asked my parent who stays in Arusha to help me with my needs they did not respond positively. Eventually, I found myself in trouble after I got pregnant.

“However, I was not happy to become a mother at this young age because it is not what I had planned for my future. BRAC has come to my rescue and they have given me the chance to finally realize my dreams.”