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Adela Madyane

A bad school environment can deter the Girl-Child from pursuing their learning journey. Lagosa Secondary school exemplifies this as the Girl child would need to walk over 50 kilometers to attend classes. Such conditions have led to an increase in rape & early childhood pregnancies. If she is to escape to this, the girl-child would further arrive in school very late, or tired or hungry adding Physical and psychological challenges to her learning journey.  

Lagossa Headmistress Sophia Theobald confirms this by saying “In 2016 more than 11, form three and form four girls dropped out of school due to pregnancy, she further adds that “the learning environment rarely favors children to like school”

The immense challenges facing the Girl-Child in Lagossa led to the Tuungane Project. A partnership between The Nature Conservancy & Pathfinders, a project that looks to support Population, Health, and Environment solutions for both students and communities in the area. The project enables the Girl Child to complete her secondary education as well as amplify and understand the value of teaching a Girl child in an appropriate school environment.

The TUUNGANE PROJECT from 2018 built hostels that can carry more than 80 girls, these hostels alleviated the challenge of the girl child having to travel long distances for school, it has encouraged lesser school dropouts, fewer early childhood pregnancies, and improved school performances. Ms. Sophia Theobald testifies to this saying “The School has birthed students that have opted for journalism and pharmacy studies, and recorded an improved performance rate, increasing in 2020-2021 from 78% to 86%. The school would also not record Division one or two but faced Division four or zero, but the hostel changed that” 

Lukindo Hiza TUUNGANE manger explaining something to girls at Lagosa secondary school

The Headmistress further adds that “We have criteria for taking girls in the hostel. Them being Students who live 60km from school, have disabilities, living in harsh condition as well as abandoned children”

The headmistress stressed that the school carries 800 students and that 374 are girls, out of 374 only 80 stays in the hostel and that the rate is still low, and ask for the TUUNGANE project in collaboration with the government to extend the hostels for inclusion of more girls

According to UNICEF report of 2016, each year about 16 million girls between 15 and 19 give birth. Stigma, lack of support, and discriminatory laws around pregnancy exclude girls from school, forcing them to stay at home and care for their children. Childcare and flexible school programs or adult classes are available but not suitable for them.

On the side of the student who got an opportunity to stay in hostel Sada Ramadhani now in form four said, she used to walk for more than an hour from her home village of Rubalizi to school which made her lose concentration and couldn’t manage to turn back to school for the extra session because of home chores and being tired from long walking.

“I used to rank as a 60 out of 70 students in class, our teachers are committed but I had no time to rest to pass through my exercise for when I come back from school, I have to help my mother with domestic work but now that I’m in hostels I am among 10 best students and I hope to do wonders in the national examination,” said Ramadhani

On her side, Mariam Saidi who stays in a renting house said it costs her enough to manage herself especially when she doesn’t have food to eat for it requires her to go back home searching for food

” We are eight children in our family, we all depend on mama, she is everything to us, it cost me enough, I have to do washing, collect water from the lake,  I spend about 4 hours doing domestic work after school hour and I am sometimes unable to go back to school and never study at night due to lack of kerosene, I also need to be in a hostel, that is a safe place, no one can be seduced and get pregnant I want to keep clean at school. Said Saidi

Representing parents Jalala Kiza said the poor condition they are living in is the source of school dropouts and the girls are often marginalized and are out of school simply because they are girls.

“Their chances of getting a quality education while staying in rented houses are even smaller if they come from a poor family, live in a rural area, and are seduced by irresponsible men how can they continue studying, they end up in prostitution and get pregnant and their story is over? the government has to take measures for more hostels for both girls and boys for in all this area we only have Lagosa secondary school. Said Kiza 

The school environment refers not just to the physical infrastructure of the school premises but also the wider learning environment.

According to international human rights law, the school environment must not impair the right to education and it must also contribute to the aims of education and the right to quality education by creating an inclusive and quality learning environment

Speaking to TUUNGANE manager Lukindo Hiza said, according to 2012 censor it indicates that people living along the coastal areas are spending a half dollar a state shows highly poverty among the individuals and that 54% of the population are women is why they decided to bring the project for social-economic development

 Under sustainable development goal, 5 is focused on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.

Hiza said after seeing the poor school environment, they decided to build a hostel but only the hostel could not fulfill the need of people that is why we decided to empower women via Community Conservation Banks (COCOBA) to make them economically stable to assist their children to get a better education and other basic needs

“We initiated 33 village bank groups with 760 beneficiaries, 500 female and 250 males, among 33 groups, five are of only women, we gave them the start-up of $1000, provided them skills on running the COCOBA systems, and tools for running implementation and we are happy that they managed them well, the goal is achieved, said Hiza

He said the groups are now having more than Tsh 470 million which means each group is having more than 10 million in their bank accounts

” I am happy with these groups, women are now engaging in big businesses, some are selling fish, some are having shops and others are trading with food products,” he said

Speaking to one of the women from the UKAKAMAVU group Asia Mayori said, she is proud of being in the group from 2018 to date, she is being able to build 3 houses, two for renting and one for living both worth more than 20 million and she now own her rice business running in Rukoma village within Igalula ward

“I was living in pure poverty, being the mother of eight children I never thought I would one day clothe them with good garments. I thank God as well as the TUUNGANE project for helping us fight poverty for my children are now studying well, eating a balanced meal and I manage myself in terms of cash” Happily said, Mayor

On his side, Uvinza district commissioner Hanafi Msabaha said they plan to expand the hostel to accommodate more than 300 students because of the bad geographical position of the school and that in the hostel students make good results

DC is asking for parents to reduce domestic work for their children who are supposed to be learning for an extra time

“I call upon parents to start providing lunch in school for their children for the tendency of coming and going back to school make children get tired and lose the ability to concentrate, it also consumes time, and children have to stay for more learning up to 1700hrs Said Msabaha

Nevertheless, from the social welfare department, Msafiri Nzunuri Senior social welfare officer Kigoma region said girls from the poorest and rural households face the greatest disadvantages because parents are less educated and therefore may value education less

But that is not the case for children must be well protected and follow their studies in a good manner, they must not be included in agriculture activities, fishing activities as well as many of domestic work which affects their studies? insisted Nzunuri

According to the Education Commissions Learning Generation report in 2016, every year 15 million girls under the age of 18 become wives an average of 40,000 every day. 

Marriage interrupts and ends girls education so they don’t gain the skills that could lift them out of poverty over 60% of child brides in developing countries have no formal education. 

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