Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of educational exclusion among all other regions of the world, with about 21% of primary school age children being denied access to education (UNESCO, 2018). UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) estimates that of the 63 million out of school children of the primary school age globally, 34 million (54%) live in sub-Saharan Africa. The region also leads in the percent of out of school children at lower and upper secondary school, 37% and 58% respectively (UNESCO UIS, 2018).
Access, retention and transition
Access to basic education lies at the heart of development. Lack of education is both a part of the definition of poverty and a means for its diminution. Sustained and meaningful access to education is critical to long term improvements in productivity, the reduction of intergenerational cycles of poverty, demographic transition, preventive health care, the empowerment of women, and reductions in inequality. It is central to the long-standing and recent images of development that depend on the capabilities that create choices and freedoms that ignorance denies (Streeten, 1999; Sen, 1999).
Equal access to quality education is crucial for addressing socioeconomic problems of poverty, unemployment and inequality (Reynolds et al., 2014; Browne & Barrett, 1991; UNESCO, 2017). SDG goal 4 proposes that by 2030, each country should “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. In developing countries, the gap between the rich and the poor, rural and urban populations in terms of access to quality education is enormous due to existing gaps in infrastructure and wealth distribution between geographies and social classes (Human Rights Watch, 2017; UNESCO, 2017).
According to UNESCO, 61 million primary school-age children were not enrolled in school in 2010. Of these children, 47% were never expected to enter school, 26% attended school but left, and the remaining 27% are expected to attend school in the future.
The Tanzania Primary School Learning Examination (PSLE) prevents 1.6 million students from entering secondary school each year. The average completion rate for primary students is 58.4 percent whereas fewer than 52 percent complete secondary school. Many of the schools in Tanzania do not prepare their students adequately for the national exam due to a lack of resources and poor student to teacher ratios. The average student to teacher ratio remains 59:1. Students in Tanzania receive only one opportunity to pass the exam as well (Nia Coleman).
Transition between primary and secondary schools, lies at the heart of all that we do. Data from our interventions shows increased transition for girls and boys is linked with increased advocacy on child rights and gender sensitive budgeting, as well as improved quality of education and governance in schools. Improved stakeholder engagement with parents, communities, local leaders and government authorities will help to increase successful transition between Standard VII (end of primary education) and Form 1 (start of secondary education
OUT OF SCHOOL CHILDREN
Out-of-School Children are children of primary or lower secondary school age who are not in primary or secondary school. In Tanzania in 2012 when the Population and Household Census data was collected, these children were of the age between seven and 17 and were not attending primary or secondary schools (Standard I – Form IV), or any other education with formal equivalence.
About 258 million children and youth are out of school, according to UNESCO data for the school year ending in 2018. The total includes 59 million children of primary school age, 62 million of lower secondary school age and 138 million of upper secondary age.
Tanzanian law and international treaties that Tanzania has ratified, everyone under 18 has a right to education. Yet hundreds of thousands of children in Tanzania are pushed out of school each year long before they reach 18 because they fail the Primary School Leaving Exam. Passing the exam is required for access to public secondary education. But more than 400,000 children, 49.4 percent, failed the exam in 2013. The year before, a staggering 69.3 percent failed. Girls are disproportionately affected, with lower percentages passing the exam. (Kippenberg, 2014)
Children living in a rural environment are twice as likely to be out of school than urban children. Additionally, children from the wealthiest 20% of the population are 4 times more likely to be in school than the poorest 20%. In developing, low-income countries, every additional year of education can increase a person’s future income by an average of 10%.
Women who are less educated are having more children, on average 2.5 children, over the course of their lifetime when compared to more educated women, on average 1.7 children.
Women with a primary school education are 13% more likely to know that condoms can reduce their risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. An education can help decrease the spreading of this virus by promoting safer sexual practices. 53% of the world’s out-of-school children are girls and 2/3 of the illiterate people in the world are women.
To address all the challenges above we embark our strategies to work with primary school committees and secondary school boards, highlighting their roles and responsibilities in relation to school management and children’s rights. Maasai Girls initiatives for Development work to increase communication between parents, teachers and school management and teachers-students to address issues of student attendance, drop outs and poor performance. We hold the government accountable by advocating for increased educational budgets for girls, improved training and support for teachers, and coordination and provision of food in schools for children.
At community level, we partner and work with CBOs, traditional leaders and community champions and community action teams, parents and Ward Development Committees, we do community awareness, sensitization and engagement, . Taking an inclusive rights-based approach, we raise the profile of equal access to quality education. We entrust by increasing the understanding and value of education communities are encouraged to even use their existing resources to support their children to go to school. Vulnerable children are identified and referred appropriately for support i.e. education scholarships.