Children and Youth in Tanzania
Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world. Thousands of children live below the poverty line. They don’t have access to basic needs (enough to eat, drinking water, clothes, shoes etc.). 16.7% of children aged below five are underweight. These children get ill more often and they also die younger. Because health care is too expensive or too far away for poor families, many children die before the age of five from preventable and treatable diseases like malaria or cholera. The infant mortality rate is 65.74 deaths to every 1,000 births (rank 22 in the world). Life expectancy is 53.14 years at birth.
Children are very important for Tanzanian families. On average every woman has 4.02 children (total fertility rate). But if a family has a lot of children it makes it more difficult to pay for each child’s basic needs. Usually the children help their family with the daily housework. They also take care of their parents when these get older.
Children who are living on the streets
All over the world there are children living on their own on the streets. They live on the streets for different reasons; often they just don’t have many other options. Some are forced to leave home; some choose to live on the streets. But all of them are living on the streets cause of their individual situations and problems.
Reasons can be:
- poverty (in the family)
- losing one or both parents
- breakdown of the family
- verbal, physical or sexual abuse
- being forced to leave home
- loss of support from a family member
- no access to education
Especially in Dar es Salaam the children living on the streets are not just locals. They often come from far away, expecting to earn a lot of money in Tanzania’s biggest city. UNICEF estimate the number of children who are living on the streets in Dar es Salaam about 3.000.
Once the children are on the streets, most of them sleep, beg, work and eat there. They expect a better life on the streets, but find the opposite.
Just like other Tanzanian children, children who are living on the streets cannot afford the basic needs (food, health care, a safe place to stay etc.) and education. Also, they miss out on learning important skills which are usually taught at home.
Besides the fact that these children need to find money for food, they also face many difficulties such as verbal, physical and sexual abuse from other peers and adults every day. Many children on the street sniff glue and petrol. These boys and girls are socially excluded; they often become criminals and get into conflict with the law. For these children, the risk of HIV/AIDS is increasing.
Ultimately, there is a very high risk that these homeless children will end up uneducated, jobless and social outcasts.
Those who join the activities at KCC can become re-integrated into society and have a chance of being a child again and playing with other children. Besides learning totally new social structures and skills they also feel included and loved for who they are.
The structure of the formal education and training system in Tanzania is:
- 2 years of Pre-Primary Education for ages 5-6 (year 1 and 2)
- 7 years of Primary Education for ages 7-13 (standard 1-7)
- 4 years of Junior Secondary Education (ordinary level) for ages 14-17 (Form 1-4)
- 2 years of Senior Secondary Education (advanced level) for ages 18-19 (Form 5 and 6)
- 3 or more years of Tertiary Education (university)
Unfortunately many Children in Tanzania still don’t have access to a good education. In 2001 the government abolished school fees for Primary Shools, but families still have to pay for school uniforms, books, school material etc. which means education is very often still not affordable.
Secondary Schools are not fee free. The amount varies, depending on the school. Government run schools are less expensive than others. In addition to the school fees, parents also have to pay exam fees, contributions to the furniture, buy school uniforms etc.
Many families cannot afford Secondary School, especially if they have a big family. That’s why many children miss out on going to Secondary School. Only 69.4 % of those older than 15 can read and write Swahili (Kiswahili), English or Arabic.
KCC supports children and youth and offers them opportunities. Through our programmes, we give them access to education, activities and social skills.
Source of the mentioned facts: The World Factbook, CIA, last visit in April 2012.