Background to the problem

“Poverty, lack of parental support, or sickness, are the greatest challenges to regular attendance for our pupils.  Orphans and vulnerable children are least likely to graduate.”

James Shimra, Headmaster Mwangeza Primary School, Arusha

We believe that a quality education is a basic human right for all children.  However, for many of the poorest, this is out of reach.  They have the most to gain from an education, yet they are least likely to complete primary school.  Children from poor families find successful primary schooling particularly challenging, as finding money for books, school uniforms and other associated costs can be impossible.  Tanzania specifically, has 3 million orphans.  These children are among the most vulnerable as many find themselves living in poverty with overstretched extended families who may have children of their own to support.  These extra children are likely to be of the lowest priority in the family and so receive the least support and encouragement at school.  Already grieving for the loss of their parents, some of the most vulnerable children may become victims of abuse or neglect in their new family. There is little or no support structure for them and they are least likely to regularly attend or graduate from school.

How does this fit into the bigger world picture?

In 2000, world leaders made a series of commitments – agreed on by all UN states – to the world’s poorest countries.  Called the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), these 8 targets aimed to  significantly reduce world poverty by 2015.

“The MDGs provide a framework for the entire international community to work together towards a common end – making sure that human development reaches everyone, everywhere. If these goals are achieved, world poverty will be cut by half, tens of millions of lives will be saved, and billions more people will have the opportunity to benefit from the global economy.” UNDP

Our work contributes towards achieving these goals, especially Number 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education

This goal aims to ensure that all girls and boys complete a full course of primary education.  While Tanzania has done well to reach near complete primary education enrolment, actual attendance at school and completion of five years of primary education suggests that the goal of “Education For All” may still be some way off. Poor attendance at school and failure to complete five years of primary education may have many determinants, but poverty remains key. In spite of free primary education for all children, the cost of keeping a child in primary school is considerable for a poor family. (URT 2005)

The government of Tanzania has abolished school fees, enabling more children from poorer families to enrol in education.  However, the cost of school uniforms, books, stationary and transport to the nearest school is too much for a poor family.  While these families may be supportive of their children’s education, the ongoing costs mean that for the poorest children that enrol, attendance may dwindle and many will fail to graduate.  Their home environments may be chaotic, and their lives lacking emotional or material support.  With no one to encourage or support them,these children fail to do well at school, or even attend.

Working to support Millenium Goal Number 2, Shika has developed educational programmes that help overcome the barriers to a successful primary education.

View Our Programmes