There has been little or no investment in the education sector in Tanzania beyond day-to-day running costs in the past 3 decades. As a result school infrastructures are failing while teaching and learning suffer from low morale and inertia on the part of many teachers. We hope now, with the new president, that change is in the air. The World Bank has also commented in favour of change in Tanzanian education. There is a move to try to bring Tanzania up to middle-income status by 2025. That leaves only 7 years for some very drastic changes – not the least of which will be change in the culture of inertia. The current president came into office on a platform motto “Hapa ni Kazi tu!” (here is work only). We wish him well.
The education system is in desperate need of reform and perhaps that reform has started with the government making education up to and including secondary level free for all. This now does not include school lunches, however. Lunches must no longer be provided from school funds augmented by parental contributions as in the past but provided entirely by the parents. Thus, our contributions from ABCDreams can no longer go to school principals on behalf of the parents. They must instead be paid to a parents consortium who will buy and prepare the food. For this they may still use the school kitchens, at least. ABCD UK remains thankful as we have now installed fuel-efficient cookers in all the primary schools with the latest only recently installed at Mwowe school!
Which brings me to the current quarter. We have been very busy this quarter, assisting with the new mood of change, advising and consulting at all levels. Agreements have been made and a new regime of support has begun. It all seems to be working well now. Instead of planning and buying in bulk a year in advance, schools in the village now plan 1 month ahead and submit requirements to the parents consortia. This also works in our favour as only smaller amounts of money are handled monthly rather than a huge amount annually – leaving less room for error.
Meanwhile, as I’ve said, Mwowe school has a new cooker thanks in part to a contribution from the Rotary Club of Callington, my old stomping ground!
Both Cook and Headteacher are, of course, very happy considering the existing conditions!
As well as providing for the school lunch programme at primary level through the parents’ consortia we decided to pay towards the vulnerable students at secondary level through support for their agricultural programme. This we were able to do with the help of my Morden Rotary Club. ABCD UK are providing for 31 students but the planting programme comes to a bit more than we had bargained for. So thanks to Rotary again, we were able to complete the programme.
Students every year prepare and plant a field of some 10 acres to provide food for the following year. The field is ploughed by a local farmer but the students need to harrow and set out planting lanes. They plant rows of corn and kidney beans between the rows. It’s the traditional method but all students participate. It was wonderful to see them all out at work.
So, quite a busy quarter for ABCD UK. We are proud to be of service. More again soon.