It has been 104 days since the closing of schools in Tanzania as part of COVID-19 control and prevention measures. These closures have limited students' ability to learn, with staying at home coming with so many demands, including house chores. This has especially become a roadblock to education for the most vulnerable children.
The opening of schools on 29th June came with a new set of behaviour to help students and staff adhere to the 'new normal'. Some of these behaviours include frequent hand-washing, the wearing of masks during class sessions, physical distancing, and an addition of two hours on the daily schedule so as to ensure instructors cover any topics in the syllabus that may have been missed during lockdown.
New measures and behaviours come with new conditions that definitely have a cost implication for most of schools with no hand-washing facilities. With the free education policy, the enrolment of pupils in schools has rapidly increased; which has brought about a shortage of desks. In the current era of coronavirus, a shortage of desks will not only affect pupils' performance; the non-adherence to physical distancing guidelines will also expose both learners and teachers to the virus.
Solya primary school is located in Manyoni district, Singida region, in the central part of Tanzania. It has total of 651 pupils across nursery to standard seven, with a total of just 12 teachers. The head teacher of the school, Naomi Mduma, notes that: “among other schools in Kilimatinde division, Solya primary school has a shortage of 90 desks and hand-washing facilities. We are limited in terms of ensuring physical distancing, better performance of the students, and practices to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19.”
In line with one of World Vision’s child well-being aspirations (children should enjoy good health and education for life), the organisation's Kilimatinde Area Programme (field office) handed over hand-washing buckets, desks and megaphones which will be used to ensure improvement of the learning and teaching environment, as well as prevention and control the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“We have seen the need to compliment the Government of Tanzania’s effort in ensuring that we are improving the quality of education. It has been 104 days since the closing of schools in Tanzania as part of COVID-19 control and prevention measures in the education, sanitation and hygiene sectors in schools and surroundings. We are donating 150 desks to two schools with shortages; Solya primary school (90 desks) and Sukamahela primary school (60 desks) both located within Kilimatinde division. A total of 144 hand-washing buckets have been donated; 119 for 17 schools of Kilimatinde division, and the remaining 25 for child monitors,” explains Joseph Shayo, World Vision's Kilimatinde Area Programe Coordinator. “Education on hand-washing is also provided; which we believe that students will be able to replicate within their households so as to ensure the spread of diseases is limited; not just with COVID-19, but even with diarrhoea and cholera.”
World Vision's Kilimatinde Area Program is operating within Kilimatinde division in Manyoni district, Singida region. With support from World Vision's United Kingdom office, programmes have been undertaken in various communities within the areas of education, health and nutrition, economic empowerment, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). These programmes aim to ensure the well-being of children and the development of communities.
“We are grateful for World Vision for always being on the frontline to support development activities in our district; ranging from water infrastructure, community empowerment, education, disaster management, child protection and this time around in ensuring prevention and control of COVID-19,” says Rahabu Mwakisa, Manyoni District Commissioner during the handover of the equipment by Kilimatinde Area Program. “In Solya we had a shortage of 90 desks and all of them were given by World Vision. This brings comfort to vulnerable children and freedom in sitting while in classrooms; something that will contribute to better performance, and later to development of the economy of the country.”
Tanzania's Ministry of education, Science and Technology has issued back-to-school guidelines that direct regular hand-washing among pupils, so as to limit the transmission of COVID-19. While hand-washing facilities contribute to adhering to the precautions, parents are also advised to tailor masks for their children that are above eight years old, as long as they do not have health issues like asthma. This is so as to ensure increased safety at school.
“This equipment donated by World Vision will help improve our performance; desks will enable us to adhere to proper sitting. Currently we sit up to six pupils per desk, that puts us at risk of contracting COVID-19. Also, not every class had a hand-washing bucket. The ones we have received will enable each class to have its own; something that will limit congestion and time-wasting.” says Maria, a standard seven pupil at Solya primary school.
Thanks to sponsorship, pupils at Solya primary school get to enjoy their life at school without the fear of contracting the novel coronavirus. This will not only improve their performance but life in general and later on lead to poverty eradication.
By Agness John, Senior Communications Officer
Learn more about and/or support World Vision’s global work to limit the spread of COVID-19 and support the children impacted by it on our COVID-19 Emergency Response Page.