Dodoma — A CAMPAIGN has been launched to build 30 hostels for promotion of education for girls in eight regions. Speaking at the launching, the Deputy Minister for Community Development, Gender and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu said over the weekend, that educating the girl child was a major way of fighting poverty.
The fund-raising that was organised by the Tanzania Education Authority (TEA) involved various stakeholders in Kibaigwa Ward in Kongwa District, collected 37.2m/- in cash and pledges, a few millions short of the 40m/- target.
"According to the World Bank statistics, two out of 1,000 women's deaths are avoided because educating the girl child, this campaign is indeed a good one," she said. The regions that will benefit from this programme include Dodoma, Kigoma, Lindi, Mwanza, Tanga, Manyara, Ruvuma and Mara.
Ms Mwalimu said that lack of hostels was a big contributor to school drop outs among girls and action should be taken. She said in 2010 a total of 728,522 girls drop out and that there was a 74,000 increase in the following year which was a 9.2 per cent rise.
She said that in 2009 the drop out was 11,264 girls citing that very strong solutions were needed to check these trends, taking into account that education is a catalyst to development.
"Investment in education is one of the best ways of fighting poverty in developing countries. Irrespective to what is said ward schools have made a big impact in the country, statistics show that had there not to be there, like in Tandahimba, a girl gives birth every year if she isn't in school," she explained.
Ms Mwalimu said that she was thankful to TEA for their creativity in coming up with a programme of building hostels because it supplemented the government's plans of building 100 by 2015.
The TEA Director General TEA, Ms Rosemary Lulabuka said that seeing the challenges that faced many schools in the country, they felt there was a need to join hands and assist. Ms Lulabuka said that TEA had previously helped Kibaigwa Secondary School with 3m/- of books and that they would continue assisting where they can to relieve them of the problems they faced.
"We are aware of the many challenges that the government face and know that they alone can't do everything, this is basis of this programme that aims at constructing 30 hostels," she said. The TEA Chairperson, Dr Naomi Katunzi said that the programme will benefit seven other secondary schools and specifically target the girl child because of the numerous hurdles that she has to go through.
"Between 2008 and 2010, 16,686 pregnancies were recorded among students, this in anyone's book is very high and we believe that construction of hostels will go a long way to reduce these numbers," she said.
The Dodoma Regional Commissioner, Dr Rehema Nchimbi said that she was thankful for being given the honour of having to launch the programme in her region, saying that since the seed had been planted there, the chances of failure are minimal.
"Now that the seed has been planted, I will make sure that this tree grows to being the biggest baobab tree that covers the nation. I would like to call upon all who will be supervising the donations to be trustful, I am here to deal with stupid people and I will deal with anyone who plays games with those donations," she cautioned.
Special Seats MP, Ms Zaynab Vulu (CCM) said that she had been involved in gathering information on pregnancies among students nation-wide and found that boda boda (motorcycles) and bicycle rides as well as buying of chips were the top reasons why girls get pregnant while in school.
"We also found that in some cases parents have forced to let their children rent out places nearer to schools and because of the struggles to survive, many get pregnant," she said. The Kongwa Member of Parliament and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Job Ndugai revealed that children are forced to walk up to five kilometres from their homes and back daily to school, a situation that desperately necessitated the need to have hostels.
Mr Ndugai said that come 2014, the Kibaigwa Secondary School planned to have form five and six streams, as well as the construction of another school because currently 400 Standard Seven fed into the school.