Issues We Face | Our Response | Our Impact
In 1998, women from the Mwangaza community came forward to request the initiation of an intergenerational program for women. Their main concern was the high rate of young girls not completing secondary education. Upon further discussion, it was realized that the issues were rooted far deeper than education alone. Women and girls were facing a cultural disparity that left them with unequal access to power and decision making. They had little say over their education, their position and pay within the workforce, or their healthcare simply because they were women. Some were dealing with marriages they did not willingly commit to, and a staggering percentage suffered from gender-based violence. This led Mwangaza staff to realize the inadequate promotion and protection of young girls’ and women’s rights across Tanzania-- women were unaware of their legal rights or struggled to understand the legal system as a whole.
Women teaching women and girls teaching girls is such a powerful message alone, but when they are armed with knowledge, their power strengthens. According to the records kept by each Binti/Mama team and the Mwangaza staff, 45,000 women nationwide have been reached.
We cannot change the discriminatory laws, but we can educate the people. We can use education to shed light on the issue, to persuade the men in the Mwangaza community to give women a choice. Mwangaza felt the best response to this issue was to expand upon the existing Binti/Mama, or Daughter/Mother, program set in place in response to the HIV/AIDs crisis. The program had been created to promote women’s health within the community, highlighting the role and stigma of HIV/AIDs. However, it provided a groundwork for continuing to empower women through education. Binti/Mama seminars are now addressing the following topics in addition to HIV/AIDs and women’s health training:
- women’s rights
- gender-based violence and discrimination
- resisting negative peer influence
- conflict resolution
- effective communication skills
- advocacy for girls’ education
- basic entrepreneurship skills
- bible study skills
The goal of the Binti/Mama program is to strengthen teams of intergenerational women to be advocates for safe healthy lifestyles in their schools and communities. This team approach is key to our success. We gather 6 girls, 2 teachers, and 4 community women who all live and work in the same community to create one team. Multiple teams from a single community are encouraged as we want to reach as many women and girls in Tanzania as possible. As with all seminars, the teams s in attendance are trained, allowing them to return home and teach others what they have learned.
In order to create further impact, the Mwangaza team developed a mini-book to act as a resource for the Binti/Mama program. The mini-book applies a teaching strategy geared toward English language learners to ensure comprehension for all, even those who may struggle with English. Within the books, topics such as women’s rights and gender-based violence. As a supplement to the mini-books, Mwangaza allocates funds to supply the teams with life skills books. These books are an excellent resource for women and men alike to help them understand conflict resolution, decision-making, communication, and more.
HIV/AIDs is a complex virus that is not widely or fully understood by the people of Tanzania. This lack of education causes deep-rooted cultural attitudes and biases in regards to those infected. It fosters a toxic environment which leads to people making poor decisions regarding family, work, and education. These actions can lead to poverty in families and communities as well as loss of education in young populations. Communities begin to suffer when workers are rejected for work or can work no longer due to their diagnosis, and the workforce reaches a point when they are obliged to take in secondary students as workers to fill a need.
A lack or poor HIV/AIDs education also causes the virus to continue spreading. Many people have false information or no information at all to inform them of the many ways the virus is spreading and how to avoid spreading it further.
To learn more about the HIV/AIDS crisis in Tanzania, take a look at the following links: (Avent, UNAIDS, etc.)
Currently, Mwangaza is the only organization taking a team approach to addressing the important socio-economic issues relating to HIV/AIDs. We educate the community as a unified whole rather than as individuals. This holistic technique is unique to Mwangaza, and has proven to be a powerful approach to connecting communities on a sensitive topic.
The first step was to integrate HIV/AIDs information into each of our program offerings. Any time an individual comes to Mwangaza for training
of any kind, including teaching and administration seminars, we take the
time to give them accurate information about the virus. This method was
introduced in order for accurate HIV/AIDs information to reach the
greatest amount of people. All program attendees leave with the promise
of educating their communities back home on the topics discussed at
Mwangaza, making our reach further yet.
The next step was to create a seminar specifically geared toward
HIV/AIDs and overall community health. The seminars brought together
men and women from ELCT churches throughout Tanzania to discuss
HIV/AIDs with emphasis on understanding the virus, how it spreads, ways
to stop it from spreading, and the stigma surrounding the virus. These
seminars produced not only an understanding of the virus, but
discussions that brought forth other topics that needed to be further
explored. Among those topics were gender-based violence, women’s
health, water-borne diseases, effective communication and parenting, and
conflict and resolution strategies. Mwangaza has added these topics to
the community health seminars, creating a broader, more effective
spectrum of education. The groups leave with a well-rounded idea of what
it means to create a healthy community for all and control the negative
stigmas of HIV/AIDs.
Though these seminars were proving beneficial, it was clear there needed
to be a wider reach for the education of communities. We decided to take
an approach used in the education programs. We began creating
mini-books to educate people about HIV/AIDs, community health,
violence, and other important topics. The mini-books were constructed
using an educational approach backed by research to ensure clarity to
those who may not have strong English skills. These mini-books are still
shared with seminar attendees to be distributed within their home
It is also thanks to the community health outreach that the Binti-Mama, or
Daughter-Mother, program was created. This is a crucial program to
HIV/AIDs education, community health outreach, and, perhaps most
especially, women’s empowerment movements. Through this program,
we bring together church women and secondary school girls to create
partnerships for teaching and learning health information, cultural
practices, and behaviors of healthy lifestyles in regard to women and girls.
By unifying participants from schools and congregations, Mwangaza’s
training will empower women to collectively promote not only safe
communities for women and girls, but also compassionate care for those
living with HIV/AIDs. (For more on the Binti-Mama program, see
Underqualified Teachers Educating English Language Learners
In Tanzania, secondary school classes are taught in English. As English is a third language for many students, this establishes a profound barrier to education across all subject areas. The Ministry of Education in Tanzania releases the results of all mandatory student examinations, and the results are displeasing. Students who are graduating from primary to secondary school should be proficient in English, but the examination results show roughly 65% of students failed the English portion with another 23% only managing a C grade. If a student is not proficient in English, they will be at a severe disadvantage. Teachers will be forced to use valuable time to ensure students understand the language rather than the content.
Teachers in Tanzania also suffer from using outdated teaching strategies due to lack of training opportunities and obsolete teacher education. Many teachers receive education lacking in pedagogy, the method and practice of teaching based on research, and those who do receive pedagogical training find the practices are not always useful to their subject field. Teachers are then forced to find their own strategies which often mimic the teaching they received. Such teaching was either based on pedagogy that is no longer relevant or no pedagogy at all. These teachers want to be successful and want their students to be successful, but are ill-equipped to do so.
waiting on updated information
Mwangaza has responded to these issues through the implementation of the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) Model within their weeklong teaching seminars. The SIOP Model uses research-based instruction methods to teach English language learners. SIOP encourages teachers to build on students’ background knowledge, use simple language, involve the students in active participation, and teach new vocabulary before teaching content. This model allows teachers to use their time efficiently to address both language and content simultaneously.
When a teacher attends a Mwangaza seminar, they are partnered with a
teacher from the United States who is trained in the SIOP model and who teaches the same subject. Together, they work their way through the teaching model and develop strategies to implement within their classroom. The teachers are assessed through assignments, discussions, and SIOP lesson presentations. Only after the attendees have shown true understanding of the SIOP model do they explore subject-specific, research-based strategies. Guided by Mwangaza staff and teachers from they U.S., they learn to manipulate these strategies to fit their classroom needs. The Tanzanian teachers leave with the resources necessary to return to their schools to arm other teachers with the knowledge and skills needed to successfully implement the SIOP model and other research based strategies in their classrooms.
Mwangaza doesn’t stop there. Four times a year, a Mwangaza program
director visits each school to evaluate the implementation of the SIOP
model. These evaluations are based on the framework of the seminars,
following a similar structure. If the director finds a school is struggling to
properly implement the new strategies, the teachers are invited back to
Mwangaza to attend another seminar as well as given further tips to find
success. The lines of communication are always kept open so Mwangaza
can continue to be available as a resource.
There is no doubt textbook shortages can cause setbacks in education success. Without the proper number of books, teaching becomes time consuming for both the teacher and the students as this leads to the need for copying text or sharing between several students.
This creates less time for content coverage, manipulation of ideas,
classroom discussions, and more. The loss of these necessary functions of learning negatively affect test scores, and students walk away with surface knowledge rather than deep-rooted understanding of the content.
Waiting on updated information
In response to this shortage, Mwangaza immediately began allocating donations toward the purchase of government textbooks. It was soon decided that they needed to supplement this allocation of funds through the creation of a mini-book series. These mini-books are based on the SIOP model (for more information on this model, refer to the Underqualified Teachers Educating English Language Learners section)
for teaching English language learners. This research-based model has proven to be an excellent resource for Mwangaza teachers. The mini-books aid teachers in simultaneously teaching the English language and government mandated content. This mini-books allow students to be fully immersed in content and language. Students benefit from the active learning approach while teachers save time by combining language and content instruction.
The mini-books are designed and created by Mwangaza who adheres
strictly to current pedagogy rooted in research as well as the SIOP model
for teaching English language learners. The mini-books have been found
to be a successful, cost-effective approach to a serious educational
problem. Mwangaza has been fortunate enough to see the impact of the
School Management and Learning Environments
Schools in the United States are run in a business style. Each individual has a clear title with designated roles and responsibilities.Teachers and administration are competent communicators with excellent conflict management skills. Everyone works together to ensure the effectiveness of the school as a whole. Not a single minute of time is wasted throughout the day and classrooms are managed according to schedules, rules, and curriculum standards. The entire structure of the school is due to strict, business ideals. Sadly, school management in Tanzania has not been structured effectively due to lack of education in these crucial interpersonal, business skills.
Waiting on updated information
In hopes of rectifying the situation, Mwangaza began holding school management training seminars. The seminar is similar in format to the teaching seminars, but focuses on overall leadership and managerial challenges. The topics discussed include, but aren’t limited to, school culture, interpersonal and conflict management, time management, motivation and teamwork, and management models and styles. Though the seminar is run by Mwangaza staff, professional guests are brought in to bolster the application of theories and address the concerns of administrators in attendance. The effectiveness of the seminar is measured through group presentations, discussions, and role play scenarios.
The Safe Schools program was also created in response to this issue. This program was put in place to help schools evolve into learning environments that foster safety and respect toward all. The culture within a school can impact a child’s learning experience in either a positive or negative way. Safe Schools works with teachers and administration to instill positive classroom management, teaching and learning attitudes, and supportive decisions that encourage a constructive impact on student learning.