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The power of partnership closes the gap on schools’ critical infrastructure needs 

In Tanzania, universal access to education is supported by the national Government with fee-free primary and secondary education. However, the funding that schools receive, directly from the Government, are inadequate to cover operations, nor infrastructure costs.

The Government of Tanzania provides the equivalent of AUD $3.60 per enrolled child, per year, direct to a school. There is no funding for pre-primary children, or for school’s with a total enrolment of less than 70 children.

Unsurprisingly, severely under-resourced schools with a lack of safe, inclusive infrastructure remain one of the leading causes of low attendance, performance and transition in the country. Parents and community members living in poverty, cannot afford the costs of construction, renovation and maintenance of school facilities, which continue to rise with inflation.

Yet, 2023 was So They Can’s biggest year to date in closing the gap on schools’ critical infrastructure needs. Thanks to meaningful partnerships across 27 schools, we’ve been able to achieve:

  • 12 new classrooms constructed
  • 54 classrooms renovated
  • 53 toilet pits constructed*
  • 4 girls’ changing rooms constructed*
  • 1 water borehole drilled*
  • 11 water tanks, for a total of 74,000L clean water storage, donated
  • 4 energy efficient cooking stoves donated
  • 557 pupils’ desks and 27 teachers’ tables & chairs donated
  • 50 bunk bed and mattresses

*So They Can was a co-contributing partner in project implementation.

‘In 2014, before So They Can’s Education Program started, students’ Primary School Leaving Exam results were on average in the 50% band. Today it has increased to 90% as a result of the support provided through our partnership with So They Can, including school infrastructure improvements, various teaching and learning training, and resources.’

Charles, Mamire Ward Education Officer.

The Power of Partnership

School communities – during a year when prolonged drought decimated agricultural yield,  which 95% of families rely on for their main household income, the sheer determination and commitment of parents and community leaders was remarkable. For all of the infrastructure development works completed in 2023, communities rallied together to provide their 10 – 30% contribution – in most cases through volunteer labour and local materials (such as sand, gravel and bricks), in some cases payment to the local contractors.

Australian Government –  So They Can’s School Improvement Project is delivered in partnership with the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP). So They Can’s full accreditation through DFAT, and our subsequent increase in ANCP funding, meant that  we tripled our ANCP allocation towards increased classrooms in 2023.

Tanzanian Government – the Babati District Council, has been the key Government partner of So They Can since 2012. In 2023, the Government of Tanzania through the Babati District Council, funded classrooms and toilets in our partner schools worth $249,000. Under the leadership of the District Executive Officer, we coordinate efforts to:

  • request the inclusion of projects within the Council’s education budget. In 2023, 4 of our partner schools were selected for Government funded SWASH projects, with a 10% co-contribution by So They Can.
  • ensure timely completion of works, assessed and approved by the District Engineer.
  • forward plan infrastructure works within schools, mapping out, and maximising  co-contributions from partners
  • advocate for funding at higher levels. In 2023 for the first time, So They Can’s Country Manager was the selected representative of the District’s non-public institutions, including NGOs​​, to participate in the Babati Member of Parliment’s Finance Committee. A valuable opportunity to provide input into the Government’s annual budget, including the allocation of funds within the  education budget.

‘I am very happy at school. I have freedom, peace and confidence in my school environment which enables me to get well educated. As a girl child the obstacles that were stopping me are gone, and I can see that my dreams will happen. Now, I can attend classes, even when I have my period. Thank you, So They Can, for caring for us girls’. 

Grace, Standard 6 student at Gijedabung Primary School.


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