Prioritising Child Protection in Tanzania
We all have a role to play in protecting children and safeguarding their rights — and, together, families, schools, communities, NGOs and Governments can be a driving force. To respect, protect, advocate and advance the rights of all children, especially the most vulnerable, is at the core of everything we do at So They Can.
Recently, our team in Tanzania has taken significant strides to ensure systemic child protection in the schools and communities where we work in Babati District Council, Manyara Region.
While national laws and regulations protecting the rights of children exist in Tanzania, their enforcement is currently inadequate. Both physical and verbal abuse in school environments, and in communities, are perpetuated due to a lack of awareness of child rights, lack of knowledge on regulations that enforce the elimination of violence against children, and insufficient formal case management systems to protect the informant and deal with cases discreetly and fairly. These barriers are compounded by poverty, stigma and entrenched harmful cultural norms.
To address some of the root causes of child rights violations, in December 2022 So They Can developed a Child Protection Protocol (CPP) with key stakeholders including the local communities, Champions, Consultants, Police Gender Desk Officers and Ward Education Officers. The protocol details the procedures for reporting violence against children in program-supported schools and communities, and the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders. In implementing the protocol, So They Can is aligning with the National Guideline of formation of Child Protection and Safeguarding Desks in and out of Schools. The CPP has been positively received by the communities in all 4 wards where we work.
When a dissemination meeting was facilitated in February 2023 90 community members attended, including the District Executive Director of Babati, Ms. Mbogo, who encouraged everyone to remember that:
‘The responsibility of protecting a child is the responsibility of all of us, so let’s make sure that we protect every child so that they can achieve their dreams’.
It is with that keen awareness of our responsibility as a duty-bearer to the children in our program-supported schools; and our unique position to prompt and lead systemic change within school communities, that the Team in Tanzania will embark on establishing Child Protection and Safeguarding Desks in 33 schools and 17 villages in 2023 as part of operationalising the new CPP. The Desks will ensure that children in schools and communities are able to prevent and respond to practices and behaviours harmful to children through a confidential and accountable formal mechanism with trained Desk Members.
With more than 22,000 children enrolled in our 33 program-supported schools in Tanzania in 2023, the impact of these measures, that will reach every child, will be invaluable.