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 Tanzania, 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.
How 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.
What 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.
The 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.
 The 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.
Equally,the 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, about 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.
Therefore, 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.
Can 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.
The 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 accordingly.
In 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.
As 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.
The 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.
Overall, 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 updates.
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 themselves.
·       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 Globally.
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.