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On November 13th, CAMFED Tanzania met with 31 members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Social Welfare and Community Development. CAMFED discussed the scaling of CAMFED’s Learner Guide Program with these elected representatives who are seeking workable solutions for citizens in their constituencies.  The program sees young women who have experienced first-hand the barriers to education for girls in marginalized communities - and have received support to go to school - return to their local schools as mentors and role models.  They support children in their studies, and in creating a better world for themselves and their communities. Learner Guides deliver a tailored life skills and wellbeing program called 'My Better World.' This program was developed with young people in Africa, and has been shown to improve learning outcomes, school retention, and progression.

“The Learner Guide yields positive results for the students, because at school she stands as a caregiver, as a sister and as a problem solver.” - Stumai Kaguna, CAMFED Association (CAMA) Leader and Learner Guide, Tanzania

 

Through the program, Learner Guides themselves develop the confidence, skills and agency they need to secure their own livelihoods, and support their families. They gain access to business training and loans in return for their commitment. As respected role models in schools and communities, and trusted mentors to the children they support, Learner Guides also work with district education authorities and advocate at government level to change the status quo for women and girls for good.

At the meeting, former Learner Guides Diris Martin and Stumai Kaguna, who now train others, joined Lydia Wilbard, National Director of CAMFED Tanzania. Together, they  spoke about the program and the changes in their own lives and those of the children Learner Guides support. They are among 1,875 Learner Guides already trained in Tanzania, with 1,345 of them currently active in 403 rural schools. Together they have reached 44,200 children.

In return for her 18-month voluntary commitment at her local school, Stumai was given access to an interest-free loan, enabling her to establish a successful motorbike courier business. She also achieved a BTEC qualification for her work. Like many Learner Guides who go above and beyond to support their communities, Stumai was also the driving force behind the establishment of a school meal program, now led by parents at her village primary school.

Stumai Kaguna speaks to media.

Learner Guide Stumai Kaguna speaks to media following the Parliamentary meeting.

Hon Salma Kikwete at a meeting with CAMFED

The Honorable Salma Kikwete, former First Lady, speaking at the meeting,  She said, “I commend the good work that CAMFED is doing. There is a big need in many areas of our country...I like the link with community and enhancing their role as parents. This is very good of this program.”

The committee’s response was enthusiastic and positive, especially about the program’s focus on empowering youth, which is vital to government. 

The parliamentarians highlighted the holistic nature of the Learner Guide Program, and praised the link it creates between schools and communities, thereby enhancing parental responsibility. The committee also discussed the program's potential to address so many issues children face, including HIV, teen pregnancy, and nutrition. 

Members recognized the power of supporting young people with loans and in business ventures while they were active volunteers, working to improve their communities.

The vice chairperson of the committee, the Hon. Juma Nkamia, stated,  “We want to be active stakeholders.”

Find out more about CAMFED’s Learner Guide Program:

Launch of a Real-time Scaling Lab with Brookings:  Supporting girls to succeed and young women to lead