Education has resumed for children in Tanzania, after a closure of three months due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Universities and vocational training institutions already reopened beginning of June. Primary and secondary schools have now opened their doors as well. Girls that are attending day schools in the direct environment of Masanga centre, the safe space where girls were protected from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) during the school closedown, are remaining in the shelter.
The Masanga centre, managed by our partner ATFGM, saw an influx of girls seeking protection at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in Tanzania. When learning institutions closed, many girls could not go home as their families were preparing to forcefully subject them to FGM. A total of 171 children came to the shelter for safety. With the schools reopening, 84 of them have joined the boarding facilities of various learning centres: 12 in primary schools, 51 in secondary schools, 19 in vocational training institutions, and 2 in teachers training colleges.
Currently there are 87 girls remaining in Masanga centre, 85 school going and 2 out of school children. The school going children study in nearby schools while family reconciliation, home safety assessments and sourcing for boarding schools are still underway.
Tanzania is the first country in East Africa to allow students and pupils to return to schools. The country had earlier reopened universities and other higher learning institutions. In a schedule issued for lessons and examinations by the Minister for Education, Science and Technology, schools need to cover the syllabus within a set time frame. To succeed in catching up, schools have been asked to add two additional hours to bridge the time lost during the lockdown period.
Back to school is accompanied by a strict guideline from Tanzania’s Health Ministry to help students protect themselves from COVID-19. Schools have been instructed to install hand-washing facilities and arrange running water. They are also required to educate school children about safety measures like wearing masks in school assembly and classrooms.