Claimed and yet forgotten – education in Tanzania

By: Petronella Murowe

“For poor people like us, education should be an instrument for liberation.” (Nyerere). 

The rights to education and access to information are fundamental human rights. Poverty breeds conditions where people lack the basics – clean water, good nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. Usually it isn’t just individuals, but communities who are poor and unable to invoke their right to education and access to information. 

High levels of poverty often correlate with low income levels, poor housing infrastructure and little or no access to information on how communities can change their lives. In Tanzania, driving from Mtwara into the Lindi region, you take in fresh air and breathtaking views of thick cashew nut, mango and coconut tree forests. In the wet lands lie a variety of crops, mainly grown for family consumption or for sale to local villagers. There are few transport options for taking local produce to different markets and reaching clinics or other facilities. Continue reading

Assessing progress toward Millennium Development Goals

Scores of world leaders assembled in New York and vowed to accelerate progress on the eight Millennium Development Goals to ward off a looming failure to meet the targets by 2015. They adopted an extensive 31-page document that reaffirms their determination to reach the goals, such as reducing poverty and hunger, increasing access to education, boosting maternal health and combating disease. To keep the pressure on, the document asks for annual reports on where the goals stand, plus another special summit on the matter in 2013. Read more here.

Aid effectiveness in a changing landscape – the case of global funds and programs

Aid delivered to fight poverty and to foster development risks failing due to fragmentation and volatility.  While traditional donors have set up new bilateral and multilateral channels, private and non-DAC-actors have dramatically increased their funding role in recent years. Additional players are welcomed since they bring new resources and new approaches, but the recent evolution of the international aid architecture has reinforced longstanding concerns about the effectiveness of aid.

Global programs are well placed in the global aid structure to make a real difference in achieving development impact. These funds and programs are increasingly important development actors and represent specific advantages and disadvantages in the development landscape. However, the addition of new, targeted multilateral funding facilities also raises questions about fragmentation and volatility, as well as how to meet the challenges of broader sectoral and intersectoral development, of donor coordination, and of agency effectiveness in scaling up successful interventions.

From 9 – 10 September 2010, the third in a series of workshops was organised on behalf of the steering committee by Idasa and the Development Policy Forum, InWEnt – Capacity Building International.

This workshop was designed to address the many important opportunities and challenges which the emergence of global funds and programs poses to the development community. Read more here.

Call for Papers – Access to Information in Quality Education

Should Access to Information be a Cornerstone Standard to Achieving Quality Basic Education in Sub-Saharan Africa?
Conference details: February 2011, 14-16. Livingstone, Zambia
From 14-16 February 2011 the Right to Know, Right to Education project will host a regional conference to address the issues of quality basic education for all. The conference will provide a platform for regional bodies, academics, civil society organisations and international aid organisations to deliberate critical questions such as the role of international quality standards for Sub-Saharan African countries; the effective monitoring of education standards in-country; how the right of access to information could be promoted by multi-lateral agencies; and whether quality education can be realised without stakeholders’ free and open access to relevant information? Also, the contentious notion of the nexus between resource and outcomes will be discussed. The latter is important especially in the context of delivering targeted resources to poor and vulnerable schooling communities. Finally, the conference will probe the role of regional institutions such as SADC, PAP and the AU in promoting a quality basic education agenda.
Access to Education, Quality of Basic Education and Linkages with the Right of Access to Information
Multi-Stakeholder Perspective on Policies and Outcomes: The Role of Governments, Civil Society and other Non-State Actors
The Nexus between Resources and Outcomes in Basic Education
We are inviting abstracts for any one of the three themes and our aim is to have a fair distribution of abstracts and papers across the three sub-themes. The abstract should be citation-free and should not exceed 150 words. They should include the title of the paper, name(s) of the author(s), organisational affiliation(s) and contact information of the author(s). All abstracts should be sent to Francina Mhundwa at and Rose Hemmer-Vitti at by 31 October 2010 for consideration.
Note for presenters
Presenters must be able to present their findings at the conference that will be held on 14 to 16 February 2011 in Livingstone, Zambia. Subject to peer review, some papers will be chosen to be published in an edited conference book through a reputable publisher. For further inquiries, please contact Rose Hemmer-Vitti at

See the full details here.

Where to for Provincial Education?

South Africa’s provincial education departments have been reduced to provincial administrations, for reasons that include the powerful role national government plays in delivering education services.

This book from Idasa looks in detail at education spending and asks: Can we afford to maintain administrations that cannot possibly change the course of poor quality education and engineer a brighter future for our poor and deprived learners?

The authors – Russell Wildeman, manager of Idasa’s Economic Governance Programme, and Rose Hemmer-Vitti, a researcher in its Right to Know, Right to Education Project – believe this question and the future role of provincial education departments need to be discussed, openly and publicly, without delay.

Harvests of Development in Rural Africa: The Millennium Villages After Three Years

The Millennium Villages Project was piloted in Kenya and Ethiopia in 2005. The goal is to show how an integrated approach to community-level development can translate the international MDG agreements into ground-level breakthroughs throughout rural sub-Saharan Africa. The Millennium Villages Project is a ten-year initiative and involves community-led delivery of interventions for agriculture, education, health, and infrastructure. Read more here.

Media for Advocacy trainees talk about their work

Leo and Raynor

Listen to Leo from ISODEC (Ghana) and Raynor from Elimu Yetu (Kenya) on the work they are doing on education rights in Africa.  Both were participants at a training workshop on using “Media for Advocacy” in Tanzania in February 2010, for partners and colleagues around the continent, working in education.

Also see the pictures from the workshop here.

Resources and Outcomes in Public Schools

This study probes the connection between resources and outcomes in South African public schools. It aims to develop a deeper understanding of the effects of socio-economic segregation and inadequate resources on the lives of poor learners.

Education is a potent tool in the fight against poverty and other forms of inequality, but to be effective, changes in the schooling system and the way society responds to the challenge of poverty are needed. This study argues that the problems of poor academic performance in public schools cannot simply be attributed to poor teaching, management and the inefficient use of resources. We need to face up to the broader challenges of education for the poor.

This publication is the first in a series of research projects by the Economic Governance Programme of democracy institute Idasa, which locates schools within society and reflects society through the schools and schooling systems it produces.

Contact Shahieda to order a hardcopy of this book.

Council disconnects children’s water

The decision to shut off water and electricity to schools is a violation of human rights, of the right to education in particular.  Though the Tshwane Metro Council called it a last resort; it is simply not an option. Providing quality basic education (a guaranteed human right in South Africa) is a multi-sector endeavour, requiring the commitments of the water, sanitation, power generation, internal security, transportation and roads ministries.

Rights are not the same as needs.  Human beings have the right to a minimum standard of education, inherent to their being born.  In this case, the right-holders are children.  It is the responsibility of the State to create an environment in which the right to basic education can be claimed.  Sending the police to force to compel the Tshwane Metro Council to reconnect the schools would not have been overkill.  It would have sent a strong message to South Africans, that the government of South Africa will not tolerate the violation of the rights of its citizens; particularly children, those who will most certainly have to make these policy choices in future.
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