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International Day of the African Child 2019

June 16 was this year’s International Day of the African Child. So They Can, along with 258 students and 26 teachers from our partner schools in Tanzania, celebrated the day at Mamire Teachers’ College. The celebration was in collaboration with Babati District Council and four local education wards.

This day raises awareness of the continuing need for improvement of the education provided to African children. It is held in remembrance of June 16, 1976 when 10,000 children marched in Soweto, South Africa to protest poor education quality. Under the apartheid government at the time, African children were denied their rights to education and banned from using of their own languages in schools.

This year students from 12 local primary schools gave performances of dances and plays for each other and our special guests. Guests included Aloyce Thomas, Deputy Principal of Mamire Teacher’s College, and the Ward Education Coordinators from Mamire, Endakiso, Qash and Galapo wards.

Mr Thomas welcomed everyone and spoke about the importance of including children’s voices when improving children’s rights. He also recognised the contributions of non-government partners such as So They Can Tanzania for their work towards giving all children access to quality education, and educating parents and communities in the importance of children’s rights and responsibilities.

“Children are the upcoming treasure of the nation, so it is the responsibility of everyone to ensure they are protected, and their rights such as the right to education are protected,” he said.

Performances included traditional dances from local tribes including the Masai, Iraqw, and Rangi. Plays, written and performed by the students, covered important topics such as the importance of education and the negative effects of early marriage on young women.

Children and teachers spoke about the outcomes of So They Can’s My Voice programme, which teaches groups of students to make small business based on school grounds. The programme has inspired confidence and self-esteem, and inspired parents to participate in learning initiatives in the schools.

The project has also inspired pupils to speak out to their parents about the importance of providing food in schools. As a result, parents have started contributing food to schools for cooked lunches. Having access to good food at school contributes to academic performance, health and nutrition, and saves time for those students who would previously have run a long distance home to have lunch.

So They Can’s mission is to change the future of children and communities living in poverty through education. We work with communities in Kenya and Tanzania to improve the quality of education, and help children access that education.

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