Children in developing countries face many barriers in accessing basic education. Although Primary education in Tanzania is free, the cost of school uniforms is often too much for most families earning less than a dollar per day. Children find it difficult to attend school with worn out uniforms, resulting in lack of school attendance and poor academic performance.
Fatimah is an 11 year old girl studying at Kisongo Primary School with her brother Athuman who is 7 years old. These siblings are from a family with a single mother who also is bed ridden with HIV/AIDS. Due to the lack of income in the family, Fatimah and Athuman had to wear tattered uniforms to school, and sadly their fellow students started laughing at them.
Athuman and Fatimah decided to leave school to assist their mother and provide some income for the household. Athuman was selling polythene bags in the market while Fatimah helped take care of the home and her ill mother.
Ace Africa have helped implement Child to Child Clubs in Primary Schools across East Africa. Children are encouraged to learn crucial life skills in a safe environment. Teachers educate children on HIV/AIDS matters, and in turn children then visit the homes of those affected.
After a CtC club session at the school one of the CtC teachers told Ace staff about Athuman & Fatimah. The following week, Ace staff and one CtC club teacher conducted a visit at Faitmah’s home to discuss with them about school attendance and what could be done to assist them.
Upon arriving at the household, Athuman had gone to sell polythene bags at the market. Fatimah was home with her mother, and explained that other students laughed at them because they had torn uniforms and they lacked any scholastic materials, so they decided to go home to help their mother.
Ace Africa provided Athuman and Fatimah with new school uniforms, books and pens. They are now attending school regularly and have joined the school Child to Child club where they have learned how to establish their own kitchen garden at home. Their confidence and school performance have already improved due to their regular attendance. Their mother also receives counselling from Ace and has been referred to a support group nearby for aid and assistance.
The further education Fatimah and Athuman receive from CtC will also enlighten them about sexual health and rights, preventing them from getting infected. They can also pass on their knowledge to their peers and future generations, allowing their community and even their country to make strides towards a more prosperous future.
Girls Hygiene Programme
Jennifer Laizer is a 14 year old class six student studying at Ekenywa Primary School in a rural and remote area of Arusha Tanzania. Due to overwhelming poverty in the home, her parents could not meet the day to day costs of running the family and they took Jennifer to her grandmother’s house so she could have a place to live. When she first experienced menstruation while in Class five, she felt embarrassed to discuss this with her grandmother. She missed two to four school days each month as she used to report being sick each time she had her period. Jennifer started to lose her self-esteem and confidence and her school performance dropped dramatically from being in the top five to the bottom of the class.
Thankfully, Jennifer attended the Ace Africa girls’ hygiene and menstrual management program for her class. She learned that menstruation is just a normal rite of passage for girls and discovered that it was not an embarrassing situation but rather a stage in life that all girls had to undergo as they advanced into being women. She was also provided with education on hygiene and provided with three pairs of pants and sanitary towels to use during her menstrual period.
Jennifer now attends school regularly and has been an active Life skills & sexual health peer educator, helping other girl’s going through the same challenge she once had. She is now confident about herself, optimistic and dedicated to her studies resulting in her regularly attending class and an improved school performance.
Thank you to Joe Waddington, Ace Africa Founder, for the information
Words by Sian Smith