Education has resumed for children in Tanzania, after a closure of three months due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Universities and vocational training institutions already reopened beginning of June. Primary and secondary schools have now opened their doors as well. Girls that are attending day schools in the direct environment of Masanga centre, the safe space where girls were protected from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) during the school closedown, are remaining in the shelter.
Safe place during lockdown
The Masanga centre saw an influx of girls seeking protection at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in Tanzania. When learning institutions closed, many girls could not go home as their families were preparing to forcefully subject them to FGM. A total of 171 children came to the shelter for safety. With the schools reopening, 84 of them have joined the boarding facilities of various learning centres: 12 in primary schools, 51 in secondary schools, 19 in vocational training institutions, and 2 in teachers training colleges.
Currently there are 87 girls remaining in Masanga centre, 85 school going and 2 out of school children. The school going children study in nearby schools while family reconciliation, home safety assessments and sourcing for boarding schools are still underway.
Catch up on syllabus
Tanzania is the first country in East Africa to allow students and pupils to return to schools. The country had earlier reopened universities and other higher learning institutions. In a schedule issued for lessons and examinations by the Minister for Education, Science and Technology, schools need to cover the syllabus within a set time frame. To succeed in catching up, schools have been asked to add two additional hours to bridge the time lost during the lockdown period.
Back to school is accompanied by a strict guideline from Tanzania’s Health Ministry to help students protect themselves from COVID-19. Schools have been instructed to install hand-washing facilities and arrange running water. They are also required to educate school children about safety measures like wearing masks in school assembly and classrooms.
By Lavonne Cloke - Senior Regional Communication Office, Asia
Thanks to your donation, we are seeing many vulnerable Camboian children being provided with the immediate psychosocial and medical care they need following cases of trauma related to sexual exploitation in the travel and tourism industry.
One such child is Villa - a 14-year old female from Phnom Penh Cambodia. Villa lived with her mother and six siblings in a small rental room in a poor community near the riverside. Her father left her family when she was 10 to live with a new wife, leaving her mother to be the only wage earner for the family. Along with her siblings, Villa collected cans and begged for money from tourists to try to get by. Her mother urged her to drop out of school so she could devote all of her time to begging.
In 2013, she met an older tourist from the US when she was begging for money near the riverside. He befriended her, gave her money and visited her on a daily basis. Once he had gained her trust, he convinced her to let him abuse her. For two years, he abused Villa until police in Phnom Penh arrested him in 2015. Villa was rescued, assessed and provided with immediate health care and psychosocial support and placed in a shelter. During the time that Villa was in the shelter, she was also provided with legal support and counseled to testify in court and seek justice against her perpetrator.
In 2016, Villa's perpetrator was found guilty of purchasing child prostitution and sentenced to ten years in prison.
She is still working hard to overcome her trauma and sees a counselor and social worker twice weekly to recover from her trauma and look to the future. She dreams of becoming a hairdresser and opening her own salon someday.
Thanks to your donation, we are able to continue to provide this much needed support to children who are vulnerable to sexual exploitation in Cambodia.