Barriers to girls’ education are primarily economic and cultural. Poverty remains the single major deterrent to education, and lack of education is a major cause of poverty. Uneducated girls become illiterate parents unable to support their children, and the cycle continues. When families face poverty girls are the first to be taken out of school and put into very poor paying work in often dangerous conditions. In Tanzania there is a large disparity between boys and girls enrolment and performance in schools and less than 15% of primary school leavers go to secondary schools.
Some cultures, like the Maasai, see no value in ‘investing’ in their girls’ education because of planned early marriages from the age of 12 and believe that there is no point in spending money on educating girls when she will leave for another family and bring money into that one instead of her own. On a day to day level there are more household tasks for girls than boys as well as the responsibilities of looking after younger siblings on market days or while their parents are working.
Early pregnancy is another barrier faced by young Tanzanian girls. Research undertaken in 2011 by CASEC and partners the Pastoral Women’s Council (PWC) and African Initiatives (AI) found that morans, or young Maasai warriors, are specifically tasked by community elders to get young girls pregnant so they are forced to drop out of school. There is also evidence that families bribe teachers to fail girls and force them out of school.
Other issues such as the physical safety of girls in travelling to and from school and the lack of toilet facilities can also prove to be a deterrent. The Tanzania Violence against Children study (TVAC 2009) uncovered statistics about the high rates of physical, sexual and emotional violence in schools. The distance to school, overcrowding and entrenched female stereotypes mean the retention of girls in schools is low. The journey to school has been cited as an especially risky time; 26% of girls in the study experienced at least one incident of unwanted sexual contact on the journey to and from school. A further 17% experienced sexual violence on school grounds.
What is CASEC doing?
The benefits of education are clear.
Reduces women’s fertility rates
Lowers infant and child mortality rates
Lowers maternal mortality rates
Protects against HIV and AIDS infections
Increases women’s earnings
Best of all an educated girl becomes an educated mother and her own children, including the girls, are more likely to receive an education.
CASEC aims to increase the enrolment, retention and performance of girls in school.
The Girls’ Education programme supports girls to claim their right to education at pre-school, primary, and secondary levels in two districts, Mbulu and Kilolo, by:
Breaking down cultural and economic obstacles to girls’ education to increase the numbers of girls in school.
Educating communities about their duty of care and responsibilities towards girls including safeguarding children.
Improving school governance and training communities to effectively manage their schools, become involved, raise resources locally and support teachers and education officers.
Getting HIV and Aids education into the curriculum.
Establishing girls’ clubs in school for rights education and confidence building.
Supporting communities to build girls’ dormitories and training matrons as their supervisors and councillors.
Lobbying the government and civil society organisations to increase their budgets for girls’ education.
In the News
The BBC published an article about our work on ‘Girls Education’ on the 4th March 2011. The article, titled ‘Tanzanian girls risking rape for an education’ shows the plight of girls in rural Tanzania who are simply trying to attend school and highlights the positive impact the work of CASEC has on girls like Usta.
You can view this article here