» Adolescent girls in Tanzania become agents of transformational change through education
06.04.2017 - Education Sector

Adolescent girls in Tanzania become agents of transformational change through education

© UNESCO/Jennifer Alima Kotta

More than 300 vulnerable girls from secondary schools in the Tanga Region of Tanzania are developing skills and attitudes to remain in school and avoid early marriage and unintended pregnancy.

Adolescent girls in the region face many obstacles to access a quality education. In cases where parents do not value education often girls are married early and/or drop out of school. Insufficient support from their teachers and a lower level of self-esteem than boys, especially in maths and sciences, also contributes to school dropout or poor performance.

To address the many obstacles hindering girls’ attendance and completion of education in the region, UNESCO is actively engaging boys and girls through safe spaces and youth clubs in schools. With support from the UNESCO Malala Fund for Girls’ Right to Education, and in collaboration with education officials at district and school level, the UNESCO Dar es Salaam Office in Tanzania organized a safe space training from 24 to 29 October 2016 in five secondary schools in the Muheza district. Seventy students were trained in each school, reaching 350 students (300 girls and 50 boys).

The training introduced safe spaces or youth clubs, which are student-led extracurricular groups where members come together to discuss their concerns and identify solutions. Through the safe spaces, girls have access to counselling and advice on issues that may affect their school attendance, academic performance or safety, and right to education. For example, one of the major issues highlighted in the training was the practice of “Boda boda”: motorbike taxi drivers offer girls rides to and from school in exchange for sex, which may lead to girls becoming pregnant and eventually drop out of school. 

Safe space clubs have proven to be effective platforms to enhance adolescent girls’ self-confidence and determination in remaining in school and contributed to improving girls’ school performance. The format of the safe space also means that girls benefit from peer support. UNESCO will continue to support the creation of safe spaces to empower adolescent girls to become their own agents of transformational change through education.

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