Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern border lies on the Indian Ocean.

logoTanzanian school children

Education is compulsory for seven years, until children reach the age of 15 years, but most children do not attend school until this age, and some do not attend at all. In 2000, 57% of children age 5–14 years were attending school. As of 2006, 87.2% of children who started primary school were likely to reach grade 5.

2008 Findings of the worst forms of child labor. US Department of Labor. 1 September 2009

Challenges for rural girls

The schools lack libraries, means of transport, electricity, clean water and hostels. Lack of hostels means students walk long distances for accommodations. The situation affects girls in the sense that many of them were at risk of sexual harassment when on the way home and in their shelters too.

The study adds that girls from poor households may also be more likely to engage in sexual survival strategies to secure support for their schooling in turn risking pregnancy and the curtailment of the education.


Tanzania: Girls' Education, Lost Dreams in Mire of Poverty

Every other girl that you see has a dream-an aspiration for a better life- for her own and the larger family.

The most ultimate thing that can make those dreams come true is education, and unfortunately, after primary school, few girls go ahead, and they are not to blame for it.

The 'A' level results released recently speak volumes about the sorry state of our education system in as far as the case of girl-child is concerned, and worse still for the millions schooling in villages.Despite National Examination Council of Tanzania (NECTA) gloating how more girls will join university according to this year's 'A' level results, there is no cause for celebration.

This is because more girls than ever have been left out. We are a long way off to fulfill the girls' dream. To make things worse last year's 'O' level results were a disaster that will reverberate for years.

NECTA said that about 4,470 girls have a chance of joining university but left the masses to read between the lines about the disparity between boy and girl candidates.

Out of the 59,112 candidates registered for Form Six Examinations, girls were 21,291 and boy 37, 821. Despite the girls being few in number, statistics indicates they are more in numbers.

This means the higher up the ladder you go more girls are being left out in the education system. Actually, the last census says women constitute 51 per cent of the populace, and the percentage is expected to shoot up in the next census.

We have the most hardworking girls in rural primary and secondary schools. Apart from their duty to books and the, pen household chores they undertake daily are so daunting and leave one with a bitter taste in the mouth.

Some fall along the way, because the society pushes them to early marriages and slave like labour. Yet, despite the difficulties some are able to pass their examinations and reach university level. I come from a rural area where boys have a right to education but for girls it is a privilege. I see it every year at my village. After Class Seven final examinations, many girls get married off and others are sent to Dar es Salaam to be employed as house-helps.

For boys who are not able to make it, they get a chance for vocational skills or are allowed to become farmers, some move to Dar es Salaam, for jobs. Girls' only one choice if not going on with school is marriage, or eternal damnation as a reject. Deep in the village, when girls hear of people like Dr Asha Migiro and other contemporary Tanzanian women heroines, it sounds like fiction.

Yes, it is true today, unlike shortly after independence when only women in politics like the late Bibi Titi were heroines, we have hundred of homegrown women-teachers, doctors, scientists, nurses, technicians and so on, as role models. Let me not mention names here.

What does this portend? If a million Asha Migiro's had entered the university at the same time, where could Tanzania be today?

There are thousands of girls, some maybe were even smarter than Asha Migiro but had no chance to finish primary education. Today they are languishing in poverty.

While I urge parents to educate their children-both boys and girls, I must emphasize on the latter, where affirmative action is needed from 'O' level to the university. Our girls must be encouraged to make smart goals-specific, measurable, attainable and realistic.

They say educate a woman, and you educate a nation. I have seen many men lost in vanity, lost in drinking madness despite wearing degrees in their heads. In my short experience I am yet to see a woman with a degree who is lost.

Saumu Jumanne is an Assistant Lecturer, Dar es Salaam University College of Education (DUCE)