Miriam Mwakasege, a mother of two from Tukuyu Mbeya, has taken her child out of school to help in her small business operations. Her daughter (16) was enrolled in a government school for her form one levels. Mwakasege decided to take her out after the death of her husband left her struggling with the family business.
“My daughter wakes up early in the morning and walks around the street selling doughnuts to people for their breakfast,” she said.
She added that her new husband threatened to divorce her if she didn’t force her daughter to drop out of school to help with the business. The child’s aunt, Elizabeth Mwakatage, expressed her concern over the situation. She said that she felt sorry to see the child lose out on her education for the benefit of her parents. Mwakatage said that since the child was born she has been subjected to a difficult life, as her father died when she three years old. Originally, Mwakatage took the child as her own until she completed primary school when her mother decided to take her back. When the child was admitted to secondary school, her mother refused to let her go.
Mr. Hussen Masoud, the Headmaster of Ilomba secondary school, where the child was selected to attend, said that a child has a right to attend school without any hindrances such as school fees or parental restrictions.
“It is the duty of the parents to make sure that a child acquires better education so as to fulfill their goals, so if the parents hinder the right of the child for their self benefit, I ask the government to take action against them so we can ensure that all children have equal rights,” he said.
In speaking with a child who does not attend school, she said: “I prefer to go to school like my fellows but I have no choice because my parents ordered me to help their activities and I feel ashamed when I meet with my friends in the street.”
According to the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) 2012 report, over 215 million children across the world are engaged in child labour, with sub- Saharan Africa at 48 million child labourers as of 2004. In addition to disrupting a child’s education, many children experience physical, psychological and social effects as well.
According to the Tanzanian Legal and Human Rights Centre 2012 report, Article 11 specifically requires members of the community to strive on their own for better education.
The right to education is protected by the constitution, but in Tanzania it is seen as more of a privilege than a right protected by the state.
Zacharia is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication at St. Augustine University of Tanzania. His hope for the future is to become a journalist who focuses on human rights reporting for students, especially girls. Zacharia also aspires to be a novelist.
Martha is passionate about children’s rights, and the right to education. In the future, she hopes to help children access and succeed in their educational goals.