How Some Of The Poorest Girls In The World Get Exactly The Education They Need

Jordan Shapiro:

Nyerere was the first leader of the United Tanzanian Republic from 1960 (when it was still Tanganyika) to 1985. Ujamaa means “extended family” or “brotherhood” — it was the word Nyerere used to describe his vision of economic and social development. “Every citizen is an integral part of the Nation and has a right to take an equal part in Government at local, regional and national level,” he wrote in his Arusha Declaration. His writing was succinct and inspiring, but ultimately, Ujamaa policies did little to prevent devastating economic decline. Today, Tanzania’s hunger level is rated “serious” by the Global Hunger Index, with an estimated 32.1% of the population undernourished.

Nyerere wrote a treatise in 1967 entitled Education for Self-Reliance, in which he called for free compulsory public schooling that would contradict colonial “attitudes of inequality, intellectual arrogance and intense individualism.” He thought Tanzania’s education should focus on agriculture and productivity. His influence is obvious when I’m standing outside the classrooms. The simple rectangular school buildings are built from concrete and arranged symmetrically around a well-maintained courtyard. Late in the afternoon, I spot the students singing together while they tend to the grounds, trimming the grass and pruning the shrubs. Their end-of-day contributions would likely please the former president if he were still alive. He envisioned egalitarian “school farms,” where “students will relate work to comfort. They will learn the meaning of living together and working together for the good of all.”