Pastoralist communities in Tanzania face a myriad of challenges in equitable access to quality education. They live in rural areas where there are limited education opportunities, healthcare services, and clean water. The pastoralist communities are herders which means they move around a lot; this affects school attendance when families move or rotate pastures for livestock. Also, many of the community members do not value education and even encourage their children to fail on purpose so that the students do not finish their schooling. Most parents are illiterate and as such do not cooperate with the school in following up on their child's progress since they undervalue the importance of education.
PWC is working with five schools in Ngorongoro and Longido districts northern Tanzania to increase enrollment, retention and completion of secondary school education of 2,000 girls. One of the approaches we are using is increasing parental engagement with their children’s education through the formation of Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs). The Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) is a partnership between parents and educators who strive to enhance student learning and enrich the lives of the students within the school. It is also a forum for parents to obtain knowledge and voice their opinions about what is happening in their school. Over the past few months, we have met with parents, communities, and local leaders in workshops to educate them on both the importance of education and the role that parents and guardians play in ensuring their children make the most out of opportunities. With training and team building activities, the workshops have reached hundreds of people and resulted in the formation of PTAs in five target schools. Check out some highlights in this video: https://youtu.be/mXaix-5Sxng
Another solution that we are working on is supporting girls to manage their menstrual health. During a recent PWC intervention, which provided training on reproductive health and rights, PWC distributed reusable sanitary pads to over 3,000 girls attending Lekule Girls’ School, Engarenaibor Secondary School and Natron Secondary School. This intervention is making it possible for girls to enhance menstrual hygiene and consistently attend lessons, thereby improving their performance.
Period poverty affects many women and girls who don’t have access to safe, hygienic sanitary products. In many cultures, the management of menstruation is surrounded by secrecy and taboo. Due to the stigma associated with menstruation, girls often isolate themselves at home during their period, even missing school. Girls are expected to intrinsically know how to manage their menstruation and are not provided with accurate information or products to help them do so. Additionally, the high cost of sanitary products and the lack of water and safe pad disposal facilities further limit access to menstruation management products. They are often forced to use unhygienic solutions, including using strips of cloth which can spread fungi and infection. When girls miss school because of their periods, this impacts their educational outcomes and can then increase the gender disparities in the education system. Promoting menstrual health understanding through information, services and products helps break the silence surrounding period poverty in Tanzania. Check out some highlights here: https://youtu.be/pMSFrbbg9rw