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Improving access to education for children in the region of Dar es Salaam, through the development of the Education Center of St. Maximilian Kolbe

Tanzania is one of the 30 poorest countries in the world. At the same time, the population of 49.639 million inhabitants has a high birth rate (2.2%). The local population is young, with an average age of 17.4 years. The number of young people aged 15-24 is 19.5% (4.838 m- boys; 4.841 m - girls).

One of the areas in which this age structure creates problems is education. Only 60% of children attend primary school. Only 167.000 children study at post-primary school level. 500,000 to 700,000 children attend Catholic and Anglican schools. The vast majority of young people have no opportunity to study. Only 67.8% of the adult population over 15 years of age (79.4% of men and 56.8% of women) can read and write.

Dar es Salaam is the largest port city in Tanzania, with a population of 3 m people. There are only 500 primary schools in the city. In general, there is a deficit of schools and kindergartens.

The Maximilian Kolbe Educational Centre, led by Polish Franciscan fathers, is located in Segerea, and area that has been developing in the western part of the city for 20 years. Residents are young people coming in search of work and housing from other parts of the country. Tens of thousands of families with young children live there. Most residents of the district and the surrounding area do not have a permanent job. They often work in markets or on construction sites. Many run small businesses (shoe repair and cleaning, tailoring, portering goods on trolleys and car washing and cleaning).

The Education Centre, which has been in existence since 2008, does not use religious and ethical criteria when recruiting students. The children who attend belong to three religious traditions: one third of the children are Muslims, one third follow animist-ancestral religions and one third are Christian. The Centre consists of 2 kindergartens (310 children), a primary school (750 pupils), a boarding school (680 children) and a gymnasium. Due to the high level of education, care for the children, decent and safe teaching conditions and excellent results, it has gained widespread recognition, both from the education authorities and residents of the district and surrounding area.

Improving access to education for children in the region of Dar es Salaam, through the development of the Education Center of St. Maximilian Kolbe

The project is a response to the urgent need to extend the current primary school operating within the. Maximilian Kolbe Education Centre, which in the future plans to enrol 800 new students. The aim of the project is to improve teaching conditions. In addition, the quality of teaching is very important to the local partner, thus the idea of employing highly qualified teachers. This will help to create new jobs. The direct beneficiaries will be present and future primary school pupils, as well as 18 teachers and 10 support staff from the local community. The expansion of the primary school will improve access to education for children from different social backgrounds, including those from poor families, those who are neglected and those who needed scholarship support. Finally, in the long run, the project is designed to have a positive impact on the local population by integrating it around the Education Centre's activities, contributing to the restriction of social degradation processes.

The project plans to complete and equip with benches the new primary school building that is an unfinished condition (covered reinforced concrete structure). The building has three storeys. In total, 21 additional rooms are planned, including 18 classrooms. Classrooms are high and spacious with large windows that provide good learning conditions for children, especially during hot weather. Each classroom will have a spacious exit to the outside staircase to ensure fire safety. Next to the school, new toilets and other school facilities are planned to be built. Further development plans include sports areas and recreation/playgrounds for children of all ages, from pre-school children to elementary and secondary school children. Because of the age differences, only the youngest children (grades 1-3) will attend the new primary school building.

Improving access to education for children in the region of Dar es Salaam, through the development of the Education Center of St. Maximilian Kolbe

As a result of the project, the elementary school at the St. Maximilian Kolbe Education Centre at Segerea in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) was extended. 21 new rooms, including 18 classrooms, were created. A new computer room with 10 computers was also created. Classrooms were equipped with boards, 414 children's benches, 21 desks and tables, and 21 chairs for teachers. In addition, lighting was installed making it possible to use classrooms even in the evenings. The outer corridor and the stairways were safeguarded with balustrades and non-slip flooring.

The parents of pupils were also involved in the project, performing clean-up work as volunteers.

For the 2017 school year, 180 students were enrolled (the number is expected to increase to 800 in the following years). Four teachers for first-year classes and three auxiliary staff (cook, cleaner, driver) were employed for the first year of operation of the new school building. Ultimately, in the following four years, as the children get older, 14 more teachers and 7 administrative staff will be employed. During this time, the school will optimise its teaching.