Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Inclusive Education in Tanzania: What is missing for attaining SDG #4

Ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all requires several conditions that go far beyond having schools children can go to and teachers there to teach them. Children need to be challenged and also given opportunities to explore and imagine their own interests, which necessitates resources of the home that many do not have.  Children need parents committed to teaching their children including providing and teaching them about adequate nutrition, time to be children and financial resources for school uniforms and books and toys before school even begins. In Tanzania, there are many parents who lack the commitment to education, especially towards girls, and who don’t or can’t afford adequate nutrition and give too many household duties that interfere with their free time to learn and explore. These are the household logistical necessaries for giving the best opportunity to children for learning and for succeeding in school but there are also some necessary policy conditions as well. 

            The Constitution of Tanzania protects citizens from discrimination on the basis of sex yet the pervasive school practice of expelling pregnant adolescent girls and mandatory pregnancy testing thrives.  Many teachers believe it is mandated when it is not and while the strict student-teacher hierarchy is upheld, any student who questions this policy could be expelled by school-specific guidelines that dictate students must not be insubordinate or show disrespect to their school administrators. The Centre for Reproductive Rights in their publication “Forced Out” estimates that tens of thousands of girls have been expelled or dropped out to enter child marriage or child motherhood and not returned in the last decade and girls are often taken during school hours, without their parents consent, to have pregnancy tests on a tri-monthly or even monthly basis.  This is a grave and humiliating denial of girl’s rights and serves to contribute to a cycle of poverty whereby young girls who become pregnant don’t complete high school or even primary school and now take care of two or more people.  She might be dependent on her parents, kicked out of her parents house or be paid very little to nothing for her work if she finds any thereby endangering the possibility of giving herself or her child enough time, energy and food to prepare for lifelong learning opportunities.

Stunting, malnutrition and underweight children are symptoms of issues such as poverty and diseases and are serious issues that Tanzania has been unable to make adequate progress in. As UNICEF points out, stunting affects 42% of children in Tanzania who are under five. Serious outreach and changes need to be made like to ensure children are breast-fed for at least six months and have adequate nutrition and treatment for diseases that cause under-nutrition.

There is also the issue of accessibility for children with disabilities and the safety and security of albino children. Children with disabilities, physical and mental, have a difficult time everywhere in the world trying to fit into the mold of able-bodied and/or able-minded children. Able-bodied and able-minded children also have a hard time with this but issues such as accessibility for wheelchairs or necessary special attention by teacher’s assistants specially trained to teach those with developmental disabilities are even more challenging. Not only is it getting into the school, it is getting to the school as some are far distances and those that need special attention might need to go even farther or worse, not have any place they can realistically go to.  Toilets pose an accessibility issue for able-bodied girls and an even bigger one for those with physical disabilities.

Albinos have a special risk being out in public places because of the belief that their limbs can bring wealth and good luck. Albino children, because of their size, are at a great risk travelling to go to school because of the risk of being kidnapped and mutilated for limbs that are sold for thousands of dollars on the black market. Ensuring inclusive and equitable schooling requires all children to be able to get to school with minimal risks of being kidnapped, mutilated or killed, and to be able to get to and into the school, the classrooms and the washrooms.

Generally speaking, girls are still not enrolled in the same numbers as boys are, fare worse for grades and do not complete up to the same level as boys from primary to secondary school. In Tanzania, if the Gender Equality Goal is to be met, education numbers need to be better for girl’s achievement. Girls around the world have shown that they can be as successful as boys in school if the environment, both in school and out, is conducive to their learning. When women and girls are empowered they will stay in school in greater numbers and have fewer children at a later date giving their children more resources and a better chance at a successful education themselves.

Lifelong learning opportunities mean the chance to return to school or to have options as an adult as well. It is important for all to have lifelong opportunities for increased education from toddlers to seniors in order to release the total potential of the citizenry in the workforce. In the organization I am working for, there are some challenges of getting the message out in workshops with IEC materials when traditional leaders cannot read or write and cannot take notes for reference. Adult education is important for development work in that adults can be reached in more ways with information if there are strong literacy numbers. Literacy broadens the ways that people can access information or be given messages; not just with radio, live theatre and movies but with brochures, books and billboards as well. Literacy and lifelong learning are keys to successful gender equality work but gender equality will also lead to better educational outcomes for all. Working on both is the key to the development of better outcomes for all.


Centre for Reproductive Rights, Forced Out:  Mandatory Pregnancy Testing and the Expulsion of Pregnant Students in Tanzania, Part 1, http://www.reproductiverights.org/sites/crr.civicactions.net/files/documents/crr_Tanzania_Report_Part1.pdf 

UNICEF. Tanzania- Nutrition, Accessed on Jan 8, 2015, http://www.unicef.org/tanzania/nutrition.html

Wesangula, Daniel. May 13, 2015. The Guardian, “Albinism in Tanzania: slow progress in combatting violence and discrimination”. http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/may/13/albinism-in-tanzania-slow-progress-in-combatting-violence-and-discrimination

Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Ø  By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.

This target, let alone goal, is a global lifestyle change. Changes need to be made to make our current production and consumption patterns sustainable such as only generating “waste” that decomposes and returns to be beneficial to the system. Even waste that isn’t human-made is causing serious pollution problems when manipulated for human consumption such as methane emissions from manure because of our increasing production of animals. All countries can and need to make progress on this comprehensive goal but there are some that have more influence to do so.

Tanzania is developing its capacity for public service provision but currently access and availability of garbage and recycling collection services are inadequate as many people resort to burning their garbage in small piles around their homes or near buildings also causing concern for structure fires. The litter though, while visibly more noticeable, is not as severe as what developed countries are emitting and producing. Also, the specific environment is such that certain garbage is particularly beneficial to human health as there are few other readily available alternatives. Bottled water is one of these since water from the tap or river cannot be trusted, unlike in Canada, and causes many cases of diarrhea and subsequent death among children and adults. This does not mean that improvements can’t be made, though.  More effort can be put towards public campaigns and services to keep plastic bottles and other garbage from entering the ocean or streams. While less litter would be aesthetically pleasing and more environmentally friendly, there are (albeit low-paying) jobs for those who are picking up bottles and this might render them without work or on the other hand, if they can get into the bins, make their lives easier. It is important to ensure that within the green movement there are not job losses for the obvious reasons but also for public perceptions and willingness to get behind the movement.

Reusable bag uptake can be significantly improved but part of the culture here is to get breakfast on the way to work in the form of chapatti (an “Indian pancake”) or mandazi (Swahili bun) and hand-washing might not be available so the bag acts as a clean eating utensil. I don’t see any easy way around this other than promoting a paper bag substitution or a less versatile napkin for a substitute. Tanzania can make improvements but there needs to be serious changes coming from the production stage in the form of renewable sources, simplified packaging, biodegradable material and efficient recycling strategies created for every material in order to have a cradle-to-grave closed production cycle. An issue that has been mentioned a few times by locals here is the quality of the products available to buy. Products tend to be cheap, break quickly and end up in the garbage pile faster than they should. Intervening in business is always difficult and when people can’t afford better quality products, the mechanisms to pressure producers need to be creative as consumers have few options.

In Canada, public attitudes towards recycling and garbage reduction are positive, but sustainable materials and production patterns are lagging.  Consumption is very high for processed foods and materials. Generally, Canadians can start to make progress on this target by consuming less, supporting and promoting biodegradable or reusable materials for foodstuffs and general products. The Canadian Government’s role needs to extend into the large international mining and extractive industry, the manufacturing and agriculture sectors with progressive targets on reducing exposure and the amount of harmful chemicals and trash in the environment. Regulations on chemicals and the review process is key to improving human and environmental health and creating safer, more environmentally friendly products. The regulatory process should ensure that extensive testing filters out harmful products to humans and the environment and that which is approved has a way to be recycled and/or reused efficiently, or it should not be approved.  Improving government coherence with natural systems would make Canada’s role one of leadership rather than the laggard it has been on sustainable products.

There are many challenges facing both countries for this goal, some similar and others specific. For Tanzania, public campaigns and facilities like garbage cans will markedly reduce the visible trash and keep more out of the ocean and streams. To improve product longevity, international advocacy efforts should promote better quality, cleaner products, as those who buy cheap products don’t usually have the time or influence to do so. For Canada, people should spearhead the campaigns for better, cleaner products, sustainable sources and invest in technologies that will advance this target, not just for Canada but for everyone. This includes ensuring our international economic activities don’t destroy the environment for others. This target requires people in every country to come together in order to push for sustainable consumption patterns because the alternative is to continue sabotaging our ability as a human race to survive successfully from our own poisonous creations.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

SDG#2 Zero Hunger... How can Tanzania achieve this?

Sustainable food production is an extremely important subject in Tanzania as agriculture is the number one industry for jobs, employing more than two-thirds of the population (Charle & Dhliwayo, p.4). This goal is also important because of its effects on the environment and direct link with human health and development. Even with most working in the agricultural sector, the severe problems of malnutrition and stunting stem from people not being able to afford the food, not being able to keep it before it spoils, not having a variety of nutritious foods and the epidemic of intestinal diseases that cause malnutrition. Ultimately though, poverty remains the biggest barrier to accessing food because agricultural work, which most people are employed in, pays very little. In Tanzania, stunting affects 42% of children under 5 and malnutrition is a contributing factor in 130 child deaths a day.  Children do not necessarily starve to death but the prolonged lack of essential nutrients weakens the immune system making them unable to fight common childhood diseases. Without adequate food, children are more likely to become sick, less likely to go to school or do well once they are there (UNICEF-Tanzania).

Although there are issues in Tanzania, addressing sustainable food production and its related human health impacts requires global thinking. Indeed, resilient agricultural practices are necessary but all countries need to think about the extent to which farmers can or should adapt in order to produce profitable yields in the face of climate change.  If polluting countries think that climate change should be mitigated in order to preserve the current climate for food production among other things they will make the necessary and deep measures to stop their devastating contributions to it.  The more extreme the weather, the more inputs and work profitable agricultural yields will take, which will affect poorer countries more significantly than richer ones.  Currently, less than half of Tanzania’s cultivable land is under irrigation constraining farmers to rely on the rains (Charle & Dhliwayo, p.4). Addressing this goal in Tanzania requires first and foremost a commitment by all countries to do what they can to ensure that those who are most affected by climate change and least responsible will not have to adapt to impossible levels to continue agricultural productivity and livelihoods.  Sustainable and secure food production means mitigating climate change by whatever means possible.

The agricultural sector needs national investments and commitments as well but improvements are being made in the closely related area of environmental sustainability.  Tanzania is already mainstreaming environmental sustainability into national planning strategies with special focus on safeguarding biodiversity by cracking down on illegal poaching and its illicit trade (Charle & Dhliwayo, p.10). Rural infrastructure improvements in roads and communication networks can allow better access for farmers to markets with less food being spoilt along the way.  Irrigation can be improved by introducing innovative and ecological rainwater collection and storage facilities instead of being shipped by trucks. Increases by the government in the already existing program of providing farm implement subsidies can be an effective strategy at targeting farmers for assistance and increasing the mechanization of the sector (Charle & Dhliwayo, p.3-4) Water, whether by rain or storage facility, and systems that allow consistent access to it, is an enormous influencer of food production.

Additionally, attaining sustainable food production is increasingly being viewed as a gender equality issue. Poverty and patriarchy reinforce each other to undermine many efforts to empower the girl child with her human rights and her agricultural productivity. In Tanzania, 75% of farmers are women (“Tanzania’s Newest”, 2015). Discrimination against African women farmers in loans, access to land, fertilizer etc. contributes to an estimated 100-150 million less people fed each day (World Bank, 2014).

Poverty and patriarchy in Tanzania also make a dowry payments tempting for parents when they cannot afford school fees for their (girl) children and don’t want to support another mouth to feed.  They fear having to feed two mouths if the girl child is of childbearing age, not in school and at home, “idle”. This creates a situation where children are married against their will, or capacities in an attempt for their parents to get a short reprieve of poverty. What the Tanzanian organization the Children’s Dignity Forum is trying to convey to people, among other negative consequences of child marriage, is that it creates poverty, rather than relieves it. Girls do not achieve the same level of education, become pregnant very young from scarce contraceptive access and end up with few marketable skills or access to jobs in order to support themselves or their child. Often, their pre-mature marriages result in divorce or abandonment and their parents are left with a homeless daughter and grandchild. Men may not be able to afford caring for two more people and may have multiple wives and/or children already to care for squeezing the family income very tight in case of medical emergencies or savings for school for all children.

Ending discrimination against women and girls, inclusive education, sustainable agriculture and eradicating poverty are issues that cannot be worked on individually. Along with practically all development issues, the desire for long-term sustainable change will happen incrementally from concerted efforts targeting all levels of society in a variety of ways to contribute to that long-awaited social change.  It is imperative to continue efforts to increase the tax base, reduce corruption, and advocate for fair prices for Tanzanian resources in order to improve the economic situation generally but also innovative tools and eco-low-cost strategies should particularly be marketed for female farmers.  Tanzania’s economic growth is strong but not enough of the wealth is being shared with the agricultural sector increasing inequality, including gender inequality. Efforts need to ensure that farmers see adequate financial growth relative to overall national growth and that the sectors that are capturing more of the growth have females being encouraged in them.


Charle, P., & Dhliwayo, R. Tanzania 2015. Retrieved February 8, 2016, from http://www.africaneconomicoutlook.org/fileadmin/uploads/aeo/2015/CN_data/CN_Long_EN/Tanzania_GB_2015.pdf  

UNICEF-Tanzania. Nutrition. (n.d.). Retrieved February 08, 2016, from http://www.unicef.org/tanzania/nutrition.html

World Bank. 2014. "Gender Gap Holds Back Africa’s Women Farmers: New Report Identifies Policy Interventions to Narrow and Eliminate Gender Inequality." https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2014/03/18/gender-gap-holds-back-africas-women-farmers-new-report-identifies-policy-interventions-to-narrow-and-eliminate-gender-inequality

"Tanzania's Newest Celebrities: Female Farmers." ONE. 2015. Accessed February 12, 2016. http://www.one.org/us/2015/08/10/tanzanias-newest-celebrities-female-farmers/  

Friday, January 15, 2016

New President Has Slang Attached To Him That Has Grown Across Borders: “Magufulification” Or “to Magufulify”

Since the election, President Magufuli has made some very interesting changes to government and the way things work in Tanzania.  Today is Independence Day, December 9th, and usually Tanzanians celebrate at the National Stadium but that has been cancelled and people were encouraged to clean up the streets on their day off. Magufuli himself even joined people in the streets in doing so.  One reason he declared there would be no celebrations is that a Cholera outbreak has already left 150 people dead and infected 10,000 and to spend money on other things would be “shameful”.

He also banned the practice of sending out Christmas and New Years cards.

Among his austerity cuts he says that public officials will not fly to other countries to conduct meetings, he is suggesting using Skype or have business done by ambassadors and high commissioners already abroad. Yet, he is encouraging officials to go to the rural areas to understand better the issues they face there.

He wants workshops to be held in empty Ministry boardrooms instead of expensive hotels and paired down his own inauguration party from $100,000 to just $7,000 and sent the extra money to the hospital.

Since he has been in office, a mere month or so, officials have been jailed for lateness and the head of the tax authority has been suspended.

So far, I would say he has impressed many people, even people who did not vote for him, and he is currently “walking the talk”.  We will see how it goes when free education up to secondary school in January 2016 begins.

Someone has already coined a new verb “to magufulify” described on a website below as “to render or declare action faster and cheaper; to deprive (public officials) of their capacity to enjoy life on taxpayers’ money; to terrorize lazy and corrupt individuals in the society.”