Tag Archives: students

Reflections from JHR’s first year in Tanzania

In February 2013, we launched JHR’s first program in Tanzania. A year later, JHR Trainer Rosella Chibambo reflects on the impact for students at Saint Augustine University.

This is JHR’s first year at Saint Augustine University of Tanzania, and the university’s journalism program is widely regarded as one of the country’s best.

Located in Tanzania’s Lake Zone region, a hot spot for human rights abuses in the country, SAUT offers students the opportunity to study journalism in a place in regular need of quality human rights reporting.

Members of the Mwanza, Tanzania JHR Student Chapter set up a film shot.

Members of the Mwanza, Tanzania JHR Student Chapter set up a film shot.

JHR’s work at SAUT began with a series of human rights reporting workshops attended by male and female students in almost equal numbers. The students were particularly interested in women and children’s rights, as well as press freedom issues.

In collaboration with the journalism department, local NGOs and media organizations, fellow JHR trainer Roohi Sahajpal, and I are planning a media forum on violence against women. We hope this event will encourage students and local media to look more critically at the impact their reporting has on Tanzanian women and their families.

With the help of SAUT’s Legal and Human Rights centre, I have been further developing human rights curriculum begun by my predecessor, Ashley Koen. The journalism department is currently working to implement a new human rights reporting certificate program at SAUT. Even though it will take well over a year to bring this project to life, staff and students have expressed a sincere desire to strengthen SAUT’s reputation for producing quality human rights reporters. One of my most devoted students, Kamilo Albira, has been working tirelessly over the last few months, to develop an English language human rights radio program to be broadcast on the campus station. This will be the only English program broadcast by the station and will appeal to students coming from outside Tanzania, as well as local students. JHR’s program in Tanzania is generously supported by 

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Teachers in over crowded schools on strike for unpaid ‘double-shift’ wages

LILONGWE, Malawi – Primary schools in Lilongwe are over their capacity. There are not enough classrooms to seat 8,000 or more students per school, and students are forced to sit outside.

In fact, schools in the area lack funding and government support.

It an attempt to accommodate all students with an education while optimizing the use of limited classrooms, the government in 2010 implemented ‘double-shift’ teaching. Teachers could be asked to work all day and receive additional pay. While some students are taught during the morning, the others are taught in the afternoon.

“The double-shift allowance was rolled out in all of the primary schools in the country,” said Dennis Kalekeni, the general-secretary for the Teacher’s Union of Malawi. Teachers granted the double-shift allowance were paid for working a morning shift, and again for working an afternoon shift.

In spite of the overly crowded classrooms, lack of teachers and many other issues that double shifting has created, most primary school students still enjoy going to school. The enforced double-shift means for them an opportunity for an education.

From May 2010 to July 2010, teachers from Mdzobwe educational district were paid accordingly. However, after July 2010, they were no longer given their entitled double-shift allowance.

As a result, 41 teachers from the 4 primary schools in Mdzobwe Zone are now on strike. “They promised us our money since 2010. They promised but they lied,” said Issac Chibwana, the spokesperson for the striking teachers.

The teachers object to the injustice asserting that they have been deprived of their entitlement to remuneration for far too long.

“I tried to have a meeting with the director of the Ministry of Education, only to find out he went to Rwanda,” said Kalekeni.

“They do not have concrete information to provide to the teachers, as to when they will get paid.”

On the other hand, the district education manager from the Ministry of Education stated that he had informed the teachers that their double-shift allowance would be incorporated in a supplementary budget (to be discussed sometime in February).

However, 17 months of unpaid double-shift wages leave teachers frustrated and angry. They are doubtful of the promise.

Meanwhile, 65,000 Lilongwe primary school students have been out of school since January 13. “They are running around with nothing to do,” said Chibwana. “They would rather be in school learning.”

Dumping grounds fast becoming residential areas – but without the clean-up

By Nina Lex, Timothy Banda, Arthur Cola Mvuta, and Glitter Ndovi

A garbage filled river outside Blantyre’s main market. Photo by Nina Lex.

As Malawi becomes one of the world’s fastest urbanizing countries, more and more Malawians are being pushed off their land and forced to live in areas used as dumping sites, known as “kuntaya”.

Although one of the least urbanized nations in Africa and with a population of just 13 million, the United Nations forecasts that by 2050 this number will double, forcing many rural dwellers into urban settlements in search of better economical opportunities.

Only 20 per cent of the national population lives in urban areas; however, since 1998, the urban population has increased by 63 per cent. The government has attempted to set up small towns, such as the informal settlement of Misesa located between Limbe and Blantyre, to divert rural-urban migrants away from major cities. But these areas have grown into slums, according to a report by Mtafu Zeleza Manda, an expert in urbanization who helped establish the Malawi Urban Forum and the Malawi Award for Human Settlements.

According to Manda’s report, poor access to water and sanitation means that dumping areas and slums pose numerous health concerns for residents, as they become a breeding place for pests and disease.

A survey done by the Ministry of Health shows that these areas are at high risk for diarrhea, especially in the rainy season because drinking water is often contaminated by garbage.

Water and sanitation in urban areas in Malawi, where over 60 per cent of the population lives in informal settlements – also known as squatter settlements or slums – falls under the public health department. However, government agencies are reluctant to provide basic services to informal settlements because they feel that this would encourage their development or growth.

According to the Blantyre City Council public relations officer, Luzana Khanga, dumping sites are located away from areas where people live so they can be easily monitored.

“We are trying as much as we can to help the people living in these areas, because cleaner conditions where people live will decrease cases of diseases in hospitals, thereby reducing the money spent on buying drugs,” says Khanga.

Khanga claims that people move into these areas illegally putting themselves in danger because of toxic garbage and water-borne disease. However, residents of these areas argue that they have been forced to move to dumping zones because of a shortage of land to settle on.

Students also miss school because of poor sanitation in schools.  According to The Nation newspaper, in the Mchesi area of the country’s capital city, Lilongwe, two schools remained without toilets for five years, causing student to use the nearby woods, which subsequently led to a high drop-out rate among female pupils.

Only 10 per cent of Blantyre’s, Malawi’s commercial center, population live in homes connected to sewers lines. While only 8 per cent of Lilongwe’s population is connected to sewers, the country’s third largest city, Mzuzu, has no sewer lines.

In 2008, the then Foreign Affairs Minister Joyce Banda said that Malawi had already surpassed the Millennium Development Goals target related to water and sanitation, which had aimed to provide 74 per cent of Malawian with access to safe drinking water by 2015. As of 2006, 75 per cent of Malawi already had access to clean water.

“At this rate our projection is that by 2015 about 94 percent of the population will have access to sustainable water sources,” Banda said.

However, contained within his report, Manda argues that Malawi has a long way to go in order to meet the MDG definition: to halve the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015.

Student radio program debuts on MIJ FM

Journalism students Japheth Thole and Simon Makamba conduct an interview for an episode of Neighborhood Watch. Photo by Katie Lin.

On July 3, 2011, Neighborhood Watch, a student-run radio show, was proudly launched on MIJ FM in Blantyre.

The bilingual (English-Chichewa) program focuses on analyzing and reflecting on human rights issues occurring in Malawi, but also aims to involve student journalists at the Malawi Institute of Journalism (MIJ).

Inspired by the crime prevention concept where citizens organize themselves to monitor their communities, the show’s producer and creator, Archibald Kasakura started Neighborhood Watch “having seen the gap that was there between the people and their understanding of basic human rights.”

“Malawi is a third world country and issues of human rights have just surfaced,” he explains.

“We are coming from a background whereby human rights were not a part of our system. Our politics were dictatorial, and most people were not told – were not educated – about human rights.”

Kasakura estimates that more than 80 per cent of Malawians listen to the radio daily – so it made sense to produce a program for this widely-used medium.

As a student production, aspiring journalists at MIJ will be given the opportunity to develop their broadcast skills under the guidance of professional journalists, including MIJ FM’s Wonder Msiska.

Not only will the students be required to source stories, conduct interviews, and write scripts, but they will also be receiving valuable training in sound editing.

And Kasakura is confident in the show’s contributors: “A lot of them have shown interest – and if that interest is sustained, many people will benefit from it.”

But with the show still in its infancy, there are many challenges facing both Kasakura and his team of contributors, such as funding and access to resources like voice recorders.

Nonetheless, he is positive that their hard work will incite positive and far-reaching change in attitudes towards certain controversial cultural or social practices through human rights education.

“I think the future of the program is very bright,” he says. “When people understand the importance of human rights, they will be able to fuse them into their daily activities or cultures.”

“In the end, it doesn’t matter whether you are from this tribe or from that tribe,” Kasakura continues.

“You are born with rights and no one can take them from you.”

Listen to the program’s second episode, aired last Sunday, where journalist Archibald Kasakura explores the topic of witchcraft in Malawi and current legislation surrounding the increasingly disputed practice.

(Visit the Malawi Institute of Journalism’s website every Monday to listen to the latest episode of Neighborhood Watch)