Life in Tanzania – after Covid-19
Schools in Tanzania along with the world closed down March 2020. Many of us thought…this will pass. It’s been 6 and a half months and the pandemic is still circling us and the world is facing a second lockdown.
Grand Circle Foundation East Africa have maintained weekly check-ins with schools, maintained communications with many of our sponsored students and carried on working on projects so when schools return, we are there to support. To this date, Kenya schools have not returned and the border with Tanzania is not 100% operational. On the bright side, Tanzanian schools opened and have been fully operational since July.
I took time out from the office to visit Karatu, visit the schools and have a meeting with the 5 head teachers from the schools we support. I wanted to find out what new challenges (if any) they were facing and how the families in Karatu were coping with the loss of tourism in the area.
I was horrified at some of the stories and I hurt.
Children have been home since March. Many have lived in their uniforms at home as they don’t have a second set of clothes and on returning to schools every head teacher has noticed the dreadful state of the uniforms. Children no longer even have shoes.
All parents are meant to contribute maize and beans monthly to school so their children can have lunch at school. Not even a third of parents have contributed. Children are hungry.
There is also a monthly contribution of about 2/3000/- (1$) a month to cover tests, mock exams and payment for the cook at school. This is not being paid by the parents and I discovered the cooks AT ALL 5 schools had not received any payments for 4 and a half months.
Children are meant to have their own exercise books and pencils. Since returning to school, teachers say the majority of children no longer bring any supplies citing no money. Thank goodness one of the projects GCF does yearly is school supplies and so children are staying in schools because a simple thing like a pencil and exercise book are still being provided.
Horrifyingly, Girls are arriving in school with no means to support themselves whilst menstruating. Teachers are buying pads from their salaries and keeping a stock in school. I asked what happened to all the Days for Girls packs GCF donated through funds from Overseas Adventure Traveler’s and was shocked to hear many Mums took the packs for themselves and literally told their kids to make a plan.
At Changarawe, due to the pandemic, families have broken up causing the kids to have no base and so they have not returned to school and are endeavoring to find their own path.
This is the tip of the iceberg.
From the school perspective, they have had to “get on with it”. They have lost out academically but are trying so hard to get the kids back on track. For example, at Njia Panda they have held 27 “mock tests” to help the academic teachers determine what lessons need to be taught and what parts of the curriculum need to be reviewed. The first time, only 19 out of 73 children passed. Last month, only 8 failed. Last week, at regional level, only 1 student failed. This is a remarkable achievement and simply shows the resilience of our head teachers and their passion and determination to allow their students to be successful.
GCF East Africa will continue to liaise with schools and fund projects where necessary.
We have asked our schools to propose ways we can support them, the kids and make sure we leave no one behind.
Next week our students take their National Primary Exam. It’s a BIG day for all students in Tanzania in Grade 7. Through traveler donations we are delivering porridge and individual snack packs and stationary to all GCF students in Grade 7…over 430 packs to insure they are NOT hungry whilst taking their exam.
We will continue to fund uniforms at schools which will insure those most vulnerable will get a uniform.
We immediately paid all the cooks their month’s salary and will continually review this.
As the Days For Girls project was so successful and totally funded by OAT travelers, we will role this out again in March 2021 and set the schools up with emergency kits.
In Jan 2021 we will deliver school supplies to the schools thus making sure every single student has access to basic stationary needs.
In Feb 2021 we are committed to delivering a single solar study light to every child in grade 7 giving them access to light so they can revise at home and complete their home study assignments.
|To our travelers and donors, thank you for continuing to support Grand Circle Foundation. Thank you for everything you do and the emails you send to us. We so appreciate it.