Elimu Mwangaza in Tanzania – against child abuse of all kind

By Denise Nanni and Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik. In the
following our interview with Michael Reuben Ntibikema of the organization Elimisha Pamoja Tanzania – Elimu Mwangaza
, working to end child abuse, violence against children, and child
exploitation in all its forms in the country. We would like to thank Michael
for the detailed answers to our questions.

was Elimu Mwangaza founded?
Elimu Mwangaza was founded in response to
sexual violence, abuse and exploitation against children in Tanzania. The
organization observed that violence is widespread and children do not feel safe
in homes, schools and the communities. The unique approach that the
organization focuses on the use of human rights based approach as opposed to
being only the charity. The organization believes that to be sustainable and to
bring tangible results, rights holders who are children should be empowered to
demand their rights ,moral duty bearers such as parents, religious leaders
should be engaged and the duty bearers (the government) should be empowered to
fulfil their obligations.
We wanted to
prevent violence at school, in homes and in the community of Moshi,

Tanzania to create a safe place for children. The founder of the organization
wanted to ensure that through community action for social change,
boys and girls, regardless of their age,
colour, gender and sexual orientation have a right to be protected from harm
and have their welfare promoted, whoever they are, and wherever they are anyone
who works for an organisation that comes into contact with children either
directly or indirectly has a responsibility to keep them safe and promote their
welfare through policies and programme.

are the main issues related to violations of children rights in Tanzania?
The main issues are child sexual violence,
early and forced marriages, early pregnancies, corporal punishment, low or lack
of access to education for some children with disability such as children with
autism, physical disability and mental health problem. Equally, there is a
problem of child labour in some parts of Tanzania.
Tanzania conducted a survey on violence
against children in 2011 as a response to the world report on violence against
children of 2006 which recommended that all state must take action to prevent
violence against children and response to it effectively when it occurs.
Violence Against Children study in Tanzania indicates that rates of sexual violence are high: 3
out of every 10 girls and 1 out of every 7 boys reported at least one
experience of sexual violence prior to the age of 18. The study also indicates
that 6 % of Tanzanian boys, aged 13 to 17, have experienced at least one
incident of sexual violence. The rate is more than double that for Tanzanian
girls, at 14 %. Over 6% of girls 13 to 24 years of age who were ever pregnant
reported that a least one pregnancy was caused by sexual violence. Sexual
violence occurs multiple times:
Of those who had been victims of sexual
violence, almost 4 in 10 girls and 3 out of 10 boys had experienced three or
more incidents before they reached the age of 18 years.
same study indicated that, Physical violence rates are higher than sexual
violence rates:
Over half of Tanzanian boys and girls have experienced
physical violence, such as being punched, whipped, kicked, or threatened with a
weapon like a gun or knife. Over their childhood, almost three-quarters of both
girls (72%) and boys (71%) experience physical violence prior to age 18.
study found that, one quarter of children
are emotionally abused:
Approximately one quarter of Tanzanian
children experience emotional violence, with name calling the most common form
(22% for boys; 18% for girls). Almost 9 per cent of girls feel unwanted, and 4
per cent are threatened with abandonment. Over 7 per cent of boys feel
unwanted, and almost 5 per cent of boys are threatened with abandonment.
According to
2012 Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey,
37% of the women aged 20-24 were married/in union before age 18. Data show a 4%
decline since 2004 (41%), child marriage in Tanzania mainly affects girls and
women, Tanzanian women on average married more than five years earlier than
  One in every six girls and young
women aged 15 to 19 years are married and the country still has one of the
highest adolescent pregnancy and birth rates in the world. Culture, religion
and income poverty position a girl child to be seen as a family capital, get
married to bring family wealth, get married to reduce a family burden of
raising many kids, get married while virgin, as it is forbidden to engage in
sexual relationship before marriage. Other children are subject to Female
Genital Mutilation every year (Children Dignity Forum, 2013).
National-The Law of Marriage Act (1971),
allows for boys to marry at 18 and girls to marry at 15. They can marry at 14
if courts approve their request. A girl under 18 needs their parent permission
to marry. This law is one of the drivers of early marriages that need to be
revisited and reviewed.
Elimu Mwangaza’s response is based on evidence in Tanzania on violence against
children. Although the laws and policies exist and the fact that the state has
ratified international treaties such as United Nations on Convention on the
Rights of the Child(CRC) in 1991,and African Charter on the Rights and Welfare
of the Child(ACWRC) in 2003,violence against children is still the problem.

you tell me more about the children participation program? In what does it consist
and what are its benefits and effects?

Child Participation is a fundamental human
right, which affirms children as rights holders entitled to demand their own
rights. The CRC defines children’s participation as the rights to expression,
information, involvement in decisions, and association. By exercising and
enjoying their participation rights, children are better able to develop, to
survive and to be protected. As a consequence, children’s participation has to
be a fundamental part of any strategy to achieve children’s education, health
and protection. Child Participation is a fundamental right and one of the
foundation principles of the UNCRC. It built into the ACRWC. Likewise, Child
Participation is recognised as a Right in Tanzania revised 2008 Child
Development Policy and reflected in the 2009 Law of the Child Act.
reason behind the need of establishing the clubs by our organization is to
create a space for children to participate in identifying factors that violate
children rights and plan for possible remedy. The club helps children to raise
their awareness on children rights issues in schools, more specifically the
rights stipulated in CRC, ACWRC and LCA. The clubs formed in schools are
important and necessary due to the fact that children and adults have limited
knowledge and awareness on child rights and the wide spread of violations of
their rights. Therefore, the clubs activities usually open up a space for
children to discuss issues of physical, emotional, sexual and neglect and act
context of our project, we are running children rights club which help children
to identify early indication of violence against children and report to
relevant authority. Similarly children through their clubs identify issues in
their family and report, for example if a child wants to marry, they come and
report to a teacher or a village leader. Equally, children report of corporal
punishment caused by teachers.
a result of our program we have supported children to understand and claim
their rights, while helping others to understand the rights. Similarly, the
program is combating exclusion, discrimination,corporal punishment and violence
against children in schools,families and the communities.Child participation
has improved teachers to students interaction and consequently improve
children’s confidence and enthuasism to learn more about children rights and
violence prevention including sexual violence and corporal punishment.
school club has improved communication between children themselves, and as a
result through the club,girls have become confident to report the challenges
faced by them.
The discussion with children club members
revealed that, there are main causes of truancy and drop outs. They mentioned
that the main causes of truancy and drop outs are;child abuse and exploitation,
poor school infrastructures, poverty, lack of food programme in school,
bullying, parents influence for their children to participate in agricultural
and fishing activities instead of attending schools.
Girls in the club usually mention lack of
female teacher as a challenge for them,they need regular health support and
advice for their reproductive health and sexual rights. The school has a high
level of truancy and drop outs whereby most of the time it stands at 50%.The
school has no special room for girls children to maintain their hygiene and the
toilet is not friendly to respond to girls need. Children also mentioned issues
related to dangers of early marriages or early pregnancies because they do not
get sexual education and the surrounding environment is not protective to them.
one can deduce from the discussion that children rights clubs are very key as a
forum for identifying issues that affect their lives and an avenue for
reflecting and discussing strategies of addressing violence against them.

What are your on-going projects?
The organization is currently running a
child participation program in primary school as described above. We are also
rolling out child protection projects through engaging teachers, and village
level government officials and children themselves. We engage them so that they
respond to issues of violence against children.
 We also conduct essay competitions
as a part of child protection, our last essay question was, what are the
drivers of school drop outs and truancy
, the findings were shocking
including the problem of girls not to attend school regularly because they have
to stay at home during menstrual cycle. They waste time and subjects. If one
sums up in a years so many days are lost and girls have been always left
unattended. Other reasons include going for fishing, working in farms with
their parents to get money and taking care of their siblings when their parents
are not around. They have been doing this instead of attending schools.
In the area of research, we are now
conducting a research in 4 primary schools on Knowledge, Attitudes and
Practices on children rights. We want to establish a knowledge level, at the
same time identifying practices that affect children, before the final report,
the practices that affect children are identified  are poverty, alcoholism
for parents, poor parenting, conflict in the family such as gender based
violence, children have also indicated that in a dysfunctional family children
rights are violated. We expect the results of the study to be out in May, 2017
and will be shared in a wide range of forum.

 How do you cooperate with local
authorities and institutions? 
We work with local authorities in
meetings. The organization is a member of Implementers Group which was formed
by the District Medical Officer (A government department) to respond to issues
of sexual and reproductive needs of children. We also work with government in
planning and feedback meetings related to prevention of violence against
children. The local authorities usually invite the organization to take part in
meetings, for example the preparation of the days of African Child which is
held in June 16, every year to remember the children who were killed in Soweto,
South Africa.
We collaborate with government in
parenting meetings, Elimu Mwangaza is a member of Parenting in Africa Network,
and therefore we used to invite the government department to participate in
discussions. Similarly, we work with Police Gender and Children Desk and Social
Welfare Department to respond to children who have faced violence of any kind.
With regard to other institutions, we are
the member of Tanzania Child Rights Forum, a forum of organizations that
focuses on children rights that aim to engage in discussions all actors to
discuss challenges in child protection and the continued violence against
children. Other organizations we meet during meetings to strategize the role of
institutions in addressing violence against children and violations of their
human rights and values. We also engage our government through reports, quarterly
What are according the findings of your
researches the most effective ways to positively effect children wellbeing?
The organization values the use Social Ecological Model for Understanding Risk and
Protective Factors of Violence.
The Social Ecological Model is a comprehensive public health approach that not
only addresses an individuals risk factors, but also the norms, beliefs, and
social and economic systems that create the conditions for child maltreatment
to occur. The model promotes the interaction and  the interplay between
different actors of child protection such as children, family, school,
community and society. We usually focus on ensuring that, we systematically
engage different actors as we move forward to prevent violence against children.
We always start from the premise that a
cohesive community is good for children, but that focussing only on children
sometimes does not address the reason for their vulnerability. The organization
is the catalysts for change and we ensure that our interventions focus on a
wide range of individuals.
Now, with that background and basing on
researches the most effective ways are:
·       To establish project that directs children
themselves such as child protection, child participation and Lifeskills and sex
education, sexual and reproductive education. More, specifically train children
on their human rights and human rights violation and engage them to protect
·       Promote very specific interventions to
address sexual violence against girls, preventing early and forced marriages as
well as addressing drives of early pregnancies.
·       Train teachers on child protection mostly
how they can systematically protect children in schools; support them to
understand the health and emotional consequences of corporal punishment and
address sexual violence that are caused by teachers.
·       Train teachers on positive discipline as a
way to reduce violence to girls and boys.
·       Sensitize and build the capacity of the
community to take more informed responsibility to children affected by
violence, care for vulnerable children and to find creative solutions that play
as positive actors of change in society.
·       Establish economic empowerment programme
for poor and vulnerable families to respond to needs of children. Many children
come from poor families that do not fulfil their needs and some of them are
involved in sexual relation to get food, and other basic needs.
·       Introduce and roll out parenting projects
to engage and promote skilful parenting and positive discipline. Some children
face abuse due to poor parenting. Many parents do not take time to talk to
their children and sometime children are not supervised.
·       Designing psychosocial programmes in
primary schools and in the community where children who are faced with violence
can access the service.
·       Issues of children with disability are
always left behind, we would like to intergrade projects by mainstreaming and
promoting interventions that address issues of children with disability.
Engage the government on dialogue and
round table discussions to strategize for violence Againts children prevention.
The Executive Director of the organization
is a PhD Candidate in Social Work. He is working on the project titled: Impact
of Community Based Mechanisms and Violence Against Children in Tanzania.

He wants to learn how effective are the mechanisms on preventing sexual
violence, physical abuse and emotional violence in Tanzania.

The Executive Director is a human rights educator. He
attended training at the International Centre on Human Rights Education-Equitas
in Montreal Canada in 2014 and basing on satisfactory performance, he was
invited in 2015 to go back to Montreal, Canada as a Co-facilitator. He trained
and interacted with participants from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Each year
the centre invites more than 98 participants.

Since 2014, the Executive Director is a working as a
consultant as a trainer of human rights education in the project supported by
Equitas in Tanzania. The project is called Strengthening Human Rights Education
The Executive Director is an alumni of
Equitas-International Centre of Human Rights Education, Montreal Canada. He is
also a member of East African Human Rights Programme (EAHRP), a member of
Rotary Club Moshi,Tanzania and  a member of Parenting in Africa Network (PAN).

The huge experience is an asset to the
organizational development and growth. It is also hoped that this wealth of
experience and professionalism will strengthen the organization and support it
to work effectively and to comply with legal and policy framework, and to
equally comply with international human rights instruments. He is an
experienced facilitator and has learn to use participatory methods as a method
to engage participants to critically reflect and analyse issues affect the
human rights of children, women and youth in the project area in Tanzania.