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G.E.P. in Tanzania - The Need

In July of 1998, G.E.P. opened its Tanzania Division, establishing an office in the town of Lushoto in the West Usambara Mountains. In the 1960's and 1970's, during the presidency of former schoolteacher Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the Tanzanian government placed much emphasis was placed on the importance of education, building many schools and supplying an abundance of textbooks. Recently, however, funds for education have dried up, and the government has begun to expect rural schools to be more self-reliant. The few textbooks that the government does supply to schools cover a very minimal amount of material that is at a very low standard. Communities have risen to the challenge, creating such activities as the "period of self-reliance" where students spend one afternoon per week helping their school by digging foundations for new classrooms or making mud bricks for the walls. This, however, is not enough.

There is now a great need to "raise the bar" of educational standards. In the long-term, this will lead to economic advancement in the world's third poorest economy (GDP is $90 per capita). Common factors in each school include the following:

There is a severe shortage of textbooks available to the students

The books supplied by the government to the schools are sub-standard and only provide very basic information

Many schools have inadequate funds for simple construction needs, such as working latrines or building materials that will withstand the rainy season.

Parents feel that education is very important and are committed to developing their schools

Schools in the Kilimanjaro and Tanga Provinces are in dire need of resources. Although textbooks and other basic classroom needs are the most pressing scarcity in Tanzania, access to computers is virtually non-existent, despite the large and growing demand for computer skills in multinational corporations, non-governmental organizations and, increasingly, local companies in Tanzania.

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