New £1m Comic Relief education project brings equal rights for Maasai girls

New £1m Comic Relief education project brings equal rights for Maasai girls

Tanzania has the worst record in the world for the numbers of children transitioning from primary to secondary school. However, we have reasons to be cheerful about the future, thanks to a new £1million Equal Rights to Quality Education grant from Comic Relief.

It is the biggest award in African Initiatives’ history and will enable us to expand our education work in some of the poorest communities in Tanzania. The five-year grant gives us the security of knowing that we will be able to bring about lasting change in six districts – Ngorongoro, Monduli, Longido, Karatu, Mbulu and Kilolo – and change the lives of some of the most marginalised children in the world, particularly Maasai girls.

Our new Equal Rights to Quality Education project has five clear aims:

  • Improving access to education
  • Improving quality of education (including teacher training)
  • Improving governance and security of schools
  • Improving transition from primary to secondary school
  • Strengthening the organisational capabilities of our Tanzanian partners

The Comic Relief grant endorses both African Initiatives’ and our partners’ expertise in working with hard-to-reach communities. Up to 60,000 students stand to benefit from this new Equal Rights to Education project, enabling us to improve the life chances of many more pastoralist girls.

As you might be aware, female genital mutilation and forced marriage are common practices among the Maasai and other male-dominated pastoralist communities. In traditional Maasai culture, a girl is often just seen as an extra mouth to feed until she is married off in exchange for cattle. Sexual violence is also commonplace. Culturally, the Maasai see no value in investing in girls’ education so girls are often denied the right to go to school.

We hope that as more girls go to school, attitudes in the community will change and people will start to see that not only is it important for girls to have equal rights, but when they do go to school, the whole community benefits – it gets both healthier and wealthier. While funded by Comic Relief, the project will be managed by African Initiatives and implemented in partnership with the Pastoral Women’s Council (PWC), Community Aid and Small Enterprises Consultancy (CASEC) and Community Research and Development Services (CORDS) – all trusted organisations we have long worked with in Tanzania.

Together, we will be working with parents, schools, traditional leaders, ward development committees and district education authorities to drive the project forward. By encouraging everyone to get involved, we will give child protection the focus it deserves and, at the same time, will improve access to education for marginalised groups.

We will, of course, report back to you on our progress throughout the duration of the project, which runs until 2019.

Read in more depth about our Equal Rights to Quality Education project here.

Rose Marimbo is one of our project’s implementing partners. Read her blog here.