As Tanzania recently just celebrated its 50th birthday, it is beginning to elevate another element of Nyerere’s principles: education. Education has been a severe problem all across Tanzania since its inception. In 1960, Tanzania was one of the poorest and least literate countries in the world. They have made little improvement since then. With less than 7% of youth passing secondary level education, Tanzania faces a colossal problem. Among the 7 percent that graduate from secondary school, only fractions of a percent are women. For the most part women in Tanzania don’t go to school past elementary or middle school and rarely move onto university education. The lack of schooling puts them in a rut, which practically defines their life because they have no means of advancing in society.
Most, if not all of the women that I work with on my microfinance project fall into this category. Most can barely read and write in their native language, let alone English. Because of this, most women have a very hard time starting and sustaining their small business ventures.
There is a huge divide between the literate population and the illiterate. This week my team spent the majority of our efforts on training he women in some simple mathematic and English skills. We first started with some beginner English training, which consisted of simple greetings like “How are you” and “What is your name.” The goal of our project is to give these women the ways and means to succeed in the business world. As it is now, they have no way to compete with the educated business owners, but with some training and help from Projects Abroad, we hope to give them the skills they need to be more sustainable and live more fruitful and abundant lives.
After this we moved onto some book keeping training. Most of these women struggle with simple addition and subtraction (especially with negative numbers). My team and I created a template to help teach the women these skills that are very necessary to their businesses. Throughout my 10 weeks here, we are planning on continually increasing our English training and book keeping training for these women in hopes that by the time we leave, they will have all of the basic knowledge that is necessary to run their businesses in a sustainable manner.
Apart from my project placement, I have been taking Swahili lessons every day before I go to work. I have only taken 5 hours so far, but it is crazy how much Swahili I have learned in just that short amount of time. I can now say greetings, form sentences in present, past, and future tense. I know some verbs, how to bargain on the street, how to count from one-one million, and all of the days of the week. There is very little grammar in Swahili, so it is a pretty easy language to learn. The hardest part is learning the accent of the language. Learning simple phrases have really helped me communicate not only with the women that I work with, but also around the streets. By the time I finish my language course, I should have a very good base knowledge of Swahili, which will help me tremendously throughout my time in Tanzania.
Until next time,