With ten years of successful experience helping the most vulnerable children in Tanzania, the House of Blue Hope charity takes the education of vulnerable children incredibly seriously. The charity shares the view of World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim:
“When delivered well, education promises young people employment, better earnings, good health, and a life without poverty. For communities, education spurs innovation, strengthens institutions, and fosters social cohesion. But these benefits depend on learning, and schooling without learning is a wasted opportunity. More than that, it’s a great injustice: the children whom societies fail the most are the ones who are most in need of a good education to succeed in life.”
The World Bank’s recently published World Development Report 2018: ‘Learning to Realise Promise’ has revealed, that despite net enrolment in education in developing countries in the last few decades far outpacing historic rates of today’s industrialised countries, there is a ‘learning crisis’ in global education. Millions of students in low and middle income countries are failing to benefit from years in primary and secondary school as literacy and numeracy standards remain alarmingly low for these children in long term formal education. Young students, already disadvantaged by barriers to learning such as poverty, gender inequality, and disability, are reaching young adulthood without even the basic tools or knowledge needed to cope. As highlighted, these fundamental skills have a huge impact. Without them, simple tasks like “calculating the correct change from a transaction, reading a doctor’s instructions, or interpreting a campaign promise” become unachievable.
A poor education harms those most in need of the boost a good education should provide, thus widening, not narrowing, the social divide. This amplification of inequalities is not diminished the longer the students are in school; without that early foundation of skills, year on year learning is curtailed. It also perpetuates the social divide through the generations. Barely literate and numerate parents, and teachers cannot nurture learning and knowledge in the younger generations.
So despite the encouraging rate of enrollment in education systems globally, why are these systems failing those students who are attending primary school and secondary school? The report reveals “Struggling education systems lack one or more of four key school-level ingredients for learning: prepared learners, effective teaching, learning focused inputs, and the skilled management and governance that pulls them all together.”
The children who do make it to the school gate, often do so unprepared or unable to absorb what they are going to be taught. In developing countries where poverty is rife, these children can often be malnourished, suffering from disease, and have little or no support from caregivers or guardians. The harsh environments that come hand in hand with poverty undermine their capacity to learn.
While some children are not in a position to learn, teachers are often not in a fit state to teach. With a lack of knowledge and skills themselves, it can be a case of the blind leading the blind. As the report testifies “Teachers are the most important factor affecting learning in schools. Weak teacher education results in teachers lacking subject knowledge and pedagogical skills.” Indeed the report goes on to state “in 14 Sub-Saharan countries, the average grade 6 teacher performs no better on reading tests than do the highest-performing students from that grade.” Aside from a dearth in the tools to teach, many teachers can be demotivated or absent entirely. Poor management and career support, as well as underfunding for those teachers that are capable and motivated to teach, can be contributing factors to such absenteeism.
This World Bank report emphasises the charity’s work is as vital as ever in fighting the social injustices that hobble the poorest in society. The House of Blue Hope charity has a wealth of experience ensuring vulnerable kids in Tanzania are given the best possible start in life: their good health, and a comprehensive education, are a fundamental starting point from which the charity builds.
In conjunction with providing sustenance and medical attention, caregivers ensure they receive the emotional and psychological support they need, as these kids have often experienced trauma, neglect, or abuse. This prepares them so that they are ready to learn and get the most out of the education they receive.
The newest additions to the organisation are given the tutoring support they need to be ready to enter formal education: It is often the case that the vulnerable children the charity takes in have either missed years of school, or never had the opportunity to attend. In such cases, the children are given extra help to get them up to speed, so that when they do enter school, they have the best chance of settling in successfully, so that they can gain the most of the education on offer.
The children are provided one of the best educations available in Dar es Salaam. The kids under the charity’s stewardship, attend Gonzaga Primary, and Loyola High Schools. These schools provide an exemplary education, where learning is its vehicle for success. The school’s reputation is well founded on talented, motivated teachers who are given the support and training they need to facilitate the endowment of knowledge, critical, as well as creative, thinking the young students need to be well prepared for the challenges they will face as adults.
In a country where poverty is a persistent barrier to learning and development, the House of Blue Hope charity is doing what it can to break the cycle of illiteracy and innumeracy that hold the children whom societies fail the most, from escaping the poverty into which they were born, by providing a life changing opportunity to learn and prosper.