DESPITE the existence of various challenges facing the girl-child, the government has been working hard to ensure that they live their dreams just like any ordinary citizen of Tanzania. Recently, Minister for Community Development, Gender, Women and Special groups, Dr Dorothy Gwajima underlined that the government will continue to intensify efforts in protecting children regardless of one’s sex.
Dr Gwajima made the statement at Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre (JNICC) in Dar es Salaam a day before the International Day of the Girl Child on 11 Octobe. In the course, she highlighted some measures to mitigate Gender-Based Violence (GBV) including the implementation of the second national action plan to eradicate violence against children in the country- which is expected to be launched before January next year.
In her explanation, various studies conducted in the country show that 60 per cent of violent acts against children mostly occur at home, while the remaining are in schools. She further added that from the scary statistics, it means that child protection matters should start at the family level and in society in general.
In mitigating such violence, she noted that the ministry is planning to establish protection and safety desks for children inside and outside schools, as well as children’s councils to address their challenges in primary and secondary schools across the country.
“When children are in school, they should have opportunities in various issues that concern them, including the issues of protection,” Minister Gwajima further said. Elaborating further, Dr Gwajima noted that the ministry has established some gaps in section 29 of the Child Act 2009, and the government is already in the move to work on it.
She further adds that the ministry has also started to review other laws, which deal with child protection in order to identify gaps and improve them to correspond with the current needs.
“The Ministry has already formed a taskforce which is working closely with the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to review the Act for proper amendment”, she said, adding that and so far, the government has already set aside 45 m/- to review the laws related to child protection.
According to her, the taskforce will work together with other stakeholders to ensure children are also protected from the effects of digital transformations, a move that assures a brighter future for the coming generations for the national interest. In the area of girl protection, the government is not alone since it has been supported by various Non Government Organisations (NGOs), including Haki Elimu.
Haki Elimu has been at the forefront in the movement of protecting the girl-child, especially in initiating the so called ‘Champion Club’ in some primary and secondary schools across the country. The organisation initiated a total of 127 Champion Club which intends to educate the girl-child on gender and protection issues that lead them to flourish academically.
Among the girls who benefited from the Champion Club is Rahabu Longino (14), a student at Bukindo Secondary School in Ukerewe district, Mwanza region, she was also representing many girls who face a lot of challenges based on gender and protection matters.
In her analysis, she mentioned lust and temptation as the major things; many secondary school girls must fight in their education journey in her location. During her academic journey, Rahabu witnessed her many classmates droppin out of school due to various challenges including pregnancy.
“I witnessed my classmates who dropped out of school for different factors … one was persuaded by her own mother to drop out of school so that she works as a housemaid in Morogoro region… and after we finished primary school, she decided not to continue with secondary education and went there…. some of my classmates failed in the exam and dropped out, while others dropped out because they became pregnant,” Rahabu says According to statistics unveiled in 2021 by the National Basic Education Statistics in Tanzania (BEST) about 55,940 girl students in secondary schools both private and government dropped out of school due to truancy, pregnancy, misconduct, as well as death, though truancy was identified a leading factor.
“In the year 2020, the dropouts rate is 4.6 per cent with the major reasons for dropout being truancy (93.6 per cent), followed by pregnancy (4.0 per cent) and death (by 0.6 per cent),” the report read in parts.
Despite bearing a dream of becoming a nurse in the future, her four years of the educational journey was not easy and had to encounter many challenges, which also face other students to give up or fail to live their academic desires.
“My dream is to become a nurse … I am studying hard so that I can fulfill my dream in the future…I want to serve the society through this kind of job,” she says Beyond the shadow of a doubt covered by those setbacks, Rahabu’s academic performance is pleasingsomething that made her Club Teachers select her as a champion.
As a champion girl, Rahabu says the Champion Club has several benefits for the girl-students since it provides support to students, who come from low-income families.
“I have been a member of the champion club since I was in primary school … When I finished primary education; I was given a prize of a bag of exercises, a box of pens and some money for sewing school uniforms to start secondary education,” she pointed out.