Quality education and lifelong learning opportunities are central to ensuring a full and productive life to all individuals and to the achievement of sustainable development. Despite considerable progress in school enrollment, millions of children remain out of school. Even when more children are enrolled, many do not acquire basic skills, globally 6 in 10 children and adolescents are not achieving a minimum level of proficiency in reading and math. Quality education is faced with challenges such as a shortage of trained teachers and inadequate school facilities. Achieving this Goal will require a wider effort, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, targeted to vulnerable populations and specifically to persons with disabilities, indigenous people, refugees and the rural poor.
Despite all the setbacks we are facing to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4, the youth of Tanzania are working hard to attain quality education for all. Raleigh alumni have been continuing with their own initiatives to support this goal; from MEMA TZ donating sanitary pads to secondary and primary schools to Empathy Development Vision (EDV) distributing school materials like books, pens, computers etc. to schools in the country.
In July this year, youth organisations from different places in Tanzania collaborated to celebrate and speak out about access to quality education in Tanzania. The event aimed to highlight the power of youth and to hear young people’s ideas about improving the quality of education in Tanzania.
The New Path event was organised by EDV, a local organisation founded by Raleigh almunus Robert Kawala. They work with local community by providing educational materials in rural Tanzania primary schools. However, the organisation also trains young people who become agents of change in their own communities. The event was organised in collaboration with SIMA, World Merit, MEMA TZ, Tengeneza Generation, Raleigh Tanzania Society, Wasomi Classic and YACSPO.
The event involved different activities which were related to improving the quality of education. Open discussions were held, a film shown and youth networking took place with several local NGOs. The discussions focused specifically on how Tanzanian youth can contribute to improving the education system in Tanzania and the roles that young people can play in ensuring that quality education is achieved in our country. Following the event, ideas and outcomes were shared on social media to open up the discussion to a wider audience.
Peter Lazaro, a graduate of Education in Science in ICT and Raleigh alumnus had an opportunity to share his opinion on the development of quality education in Tanzania. He said, ‘People need to stop believing in myths of education which remains as obstacles for better education.’ He added that, ‘most Tanzania parents believe in examinations only and not the welfare of their children in schools. When parents and stakeholders stop thinking that schools are for certificates only, and that both students’ welfare and good performance in schools go hand in hand, we will have quality education’.
The event provided a platform to share ideas and ways how communities can be engaged to improve the quality of education in Tanzania.
Although there has been many challenges but since 2000, there has been progress in achieving the target of universal primary education. The total enrollment rate in developing countries has reached 91% in 2015, and the worldwide number of children out of school has dropped by almost half. There has also been an increase in literacy rates, and many more girls are in school than ever before. These are all remarkable successes.
Words by Maria Kwirine and Peter Lazaro.