Brighter Tanzania Foundation

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  • Sunday, January 29, 2017 9:03 AM | Emma Hill

    Tanzania has undergone extensive changes, from multi-tribal society, to German and then British colony, and finally an independent republic. Education in Tanzania has changed just as extensively over time. In modern Tanzania, education has been a central interest for public policy and national advancement. The pre-eminent scholar of Tanzanian pedagogy is Dr. Philemon Mushi. A link to his work can be found at the bottom of this post.  


    In the pre-colonization, tribal Tanzania, education varied widely from tribe to tribe, and was partial driven by tribal identity and then later by the two expanding religions, Christianity and Islam. While cultural norms varied in each tribe, these tribes valued education as a means of preserving their cultural values, skills, and codes of behavior. When Islam and Christianity began spreading through the region in the 19th century, these competition religions both heavily emphasized education as a means to secure cultural and ideological influence. These religious schools taught literacy & cultural values as a means of gathering converts and projecting influence. They did not seek to end regional illiteracy, rarely educated women, and often made race distinctions based on tribal affiliation.

    Map of modern day Tanzania

    During the colonial period, (1880-1961) colonial administrators expanded on the pedagogical foundation established by Christian schools. However, these schools sought to promote colonial, rather than religious interests. The German & British colonists needed the locals to accept and support their demand for raw materials and cheap labor. Education, (again, lacking gender, class and tribal equity) was used to legitimize colonial rule of first the Germans, then the British.

    After independence, (1961) the education policies were driven by political needs. Like most newly independent states, it's people and government were highly idealistic, had dreams of a just, modern, independent nation with a growing a stable economy. Yet just after colonization, Tanzania's fledgling government faced huge obstacles. It's estimated that 85% of the population was illiterate, as well as extremely poor. Hunger, widespread diseases, low average life expectancy (37), and high infant & maternal mortality rates were also major obstacles. Periodic droughts, food shortages, and limited access to international aid further complicated matters. The Tanzanian government and a number of local and international NGOs had to recreate the educational system to build up a literate work force. 90% of the population lived in rural areas, and used hand tools to produce food crops and cash crops. By necessity, the rural population would be the driving factor of the new economy, and yet they were so scattered, that it was very difficult to extend the social services needed to improve their living conditions and agricultural productivity. Political leaders of the time emphasized that independence only gave people the option to improve their lives, not a guarantee. If people wanted better for themselves and their children, they would have to be educated in order to understand their situation and participate in civic discourse.



    Adult education was critical for the new nation. Adult education in the 60's and 70's emphasized self reliance, self development and community development. These programs taught literacy, numeracy, nutrition, hygiene, agricultural practices and national ambitions. Villages across Tanzania were encouraged to engage in their own development projects, roads, schools, and other infrastructure, but these efforts were highly uncoordinated. Adult education programs repeatedly addressed the need for increased agricultural productivity, and President Nyerere eventually cribbed his plan for Folk Development Colleges from the Swedish system of Folk High Schools. 

    In the 80's and 90's education policies shifted to focus on the growing demands of globalization and the needs of a modern society. In the late 90's, children and girls became increasingly important. Female literacy rates were correlated with other coveted social economic statistics, like lower mortality rates, and higher economic growth.  Our own Saving Grace School ensures that young children and girls from impoverished families are given a quality education. 


    Naomi                                                                     Gift 

    Saving Grace students aren't just taught academics, but social skills as well. Here we see two of our students learning to confidently show what they've learned.  

    Many of the challenges that plagued Tanzania after independence are still prevalent, and education is still seen as the key toward long-term, sustainable improvement. The current education policies focus on increasing teacher training standards, increasing total primary enrollment, increasing girls' primary school enrollment, and increasing secondary school graduation rates. Our Saving Grace Day and Boarding School focuses on younger students, and ensuring they have the foundational skills to succeed in secondary school. Many NGOs also emphasize the need for business, entrepreneurial and legal rights education so that women and men can build and maintain a diverse range of businesses and fully participate in civic discourse.

     Here we see Saving Grace students practicing their writing.  

    Source: History and Development of Education in Tanzania :



  • Friday, January 27, 2017 9:30 AM | Emma Hill

    Tanzania's Flag

    Located on the east coast of the African continent, Tanzania is a picturesque country known for its national parks, multitude of wildlife species, and wonderful safari tours. The country boasts over 125 ethnic groups, most notably the nomadic Maasai people. English and Kiswahili are most commonly spoken, being the country’s official languages, but due to the multitude of ethnic groups inhabiting the country, over one hundred languages can be heard, many of them of Bantu origin.

    Over 80% of Tanzania’s population are rural farmers. The majority of these farmers are “small holders” (subsistence farmers) who use manual labor and hand tools. Tanzania is pushing to modernize it’s agricultural industry to not only provide more food security for a growing population, but also to economically empower the impoverished rural population.

    Education is highly valued in Tanzanian society; however, most individuals are only afforded the opportunity to attend primary school, which was recently mandated as a free service by the Tanzanian government. Despite the mandate, public school isn’t truly free: books, supplies, uniforms and school meals all have an associated fee. Many Tanzanian families struggle to afford these fees.

    Our school, Saving Grace Day & Boarding School is located in Arusha. Arusha is a small urban center in northern Tanzania. The capital of the Arusha region, the city of Arusha is home to many governmental institutions all well as a large number of banks, schools, and businesses large and small. However, one of the largest income sources is tourism, due to its location near the Serengeti National Park, Olduvai Gorge, and Mount Kilimanjaro. Arusha is popularly known as “The Safari Capital” and has cultivated award winning safari parks. The Serengeti National Park is a great place to spot “The Big Five,” Elephants, Wildebeest, Zebras, Cheetahs & Lions. Olduvai Gorge is an important archaeological site home to some of the oldest human remains. Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa.

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons, by  Geir Kiste

    Quick Facts

    Capital: Dodoma

    Population: 51,045,882

    Area: 947,300 sq km

    Life expectancy: 61.71 years

    Median age: 17.5 years

    Education expenditures: 6.2% of GDP (2010)

    Literacy: 70.6% (approximately 75.9% for males, 65.4% for females)

    School life expectancy: 9 years

    15,816 primary schools in operation

    Only 1% of the population aged 15 years old and above have post-secondary education.

    Child labor: 21% children aged 5-14

    Population below poverty line: 67.9%

  • Tuesday, January 24, 2017 9:30 AM | Emma Hill

    Emma Hill is a technical writer who lives in Madison with her boyfriend and cat.

    What do you do for BTF?

    I help research & write blog articles, and I help feed the social media machine.  I also helped with the African Eats cookbook. I recommend the ebook. Check it out here

    How long have you been involved with BTF?

    I’ve been involved since September 2016.

    What do you like most about working with Brighter Tanzania?

    I like being able to learn about an entirely new subject. I didn’t know much about Africa or Tanzania when I started, and it’s been great learning about another corner of the globe.

    What’s one interesting fact about you?

    I’ve travelled to 12 countries.

    What’s one major accomplishment you’d like to see BTF achieve in the next year?

    I would like to see a working vegetable garden, a coop of laying chickens, and perhaps a milk goat.  Saving Grace has such young students, and their households don’t always have enough food.  I think a veggie garden and eggs would benefit the students’ physical & cognitive growth.    An expanded sponsorship program, or a variation might provide the funding needed to start and maintain a garden & animals.

    How has working with BTF changed you?

    Working with BTF has helped me become more aware of what I have, and to be grateful for the things that are too easy to take for granted.  Saving Grace students and their families endure hardship and obstacles with hope and dignity.  I hope that my efforts at BTF can at least indirectly help their children secure a better quality of life.

    Have you met any of the Saving Grace students?

    No, I have not meet any of the students.  I love learning about them from Facebook, Felicia’s trips, and from emails with Grace. 

  • Friday, January 06, 2017 8:00 AM | Emma Hill

    Women in Tanzania are in the midst of a historic struggle. They demand land ownership.

    Photo by maxpixel

    While it’s legal for women to own land, only 20% of women do. It’s common for a woman to access land through a husband, father or brother. If the provider dies, the woman and her children risk being turned off their property by other relatives, or by governmental or corporate interests collecting land for agricultural development.

    Traditional cultural attitudes, bureaucratic mismanagement, corporate corruption, and lack of sufficient rural education pose obstacles to women's ability to own land or defend their ownership to competing interests.

    It’s common for land ownership to not be documented. This can make it hard for women (or rural farmers) to defend their property rights. Recently, USAID launched a pilot project to map geographic and demographic data using mobile phone technology. The program aims to help Tanzania’s authorities secure village land rights and speed up land rights registration. It remains to be seen it the program's initial successes can be applied throughout Tanzania. (1)

    Owning land is a critical step in securing stable homes and business. Land ownership enables Tanzanian women can control what their farms grow and invest in modern farming methods. 

    Tanzanian farmers with small plots of land are threatened by large agricultural corporations. Local farmers are often uneducated about their land rights and are often unable to get bank loans to support their farms. Tanzanian women demand that laws be more protective of small farmers. They also want more land rights education and citizen participation so that small farmers can give "informed consent" when major corporations want to use their land.

    The push for equitable application of land and inheritance laws is largely the result of two related forces:

    1) the steady increase in adult education and women’s literacy and

    2) women’s gradual economic empowerment.

    Due to changing economic pressures, and increased access to education, more and more women are starting businesses. They have a stabilizing effect on their local economy by providing employment, selling to residents and buying from local vendors. Women who contribute to, or fully provide, the family's income have more power at home and are more likely to assert their political rights.

    In Tanzania, inheritance laws and land use rights are especially contested. There are a number of discriminatory laws that prevent women from inheriting or owning property, and general ignorance of how to best make use of existing property laws. In the past few years, Tanzanian women have been agitating to change discriminatory laws and increase women's education of existing laws. When women are able to control their land, they are better able to feed their families and run a sustainable business. Educating women on land rights often has the effect of educating the whole community, as men and women will grapple with this threat to tradition and the potential for economic advancement.

    These shifting attitudes on inheritance and property also enable defense for land use changes. In Tanzania, like much of East Africa, agriculture is king. Agriculture makes up a significant chunk of rural and national employment, and a significant chunk of the land used. Yet many of the farms are run by "smallholders", single families who use hand and animal labor to farm small amounts of land. It's very inefficient, but most of these farmers are too poor to buy modern equipment.

    The Tanzanian government is faced with the difficult task of making the agricultural industry as efficient as possible. Their growing populations and fragile economy require it. But issues like corruption, poorly documented ownership, illiterate farmers, negative bias against herding communities, and speculative land grabs have made a fair redistribution of farming land almost impossible. Whole communities are sometimes forced off their land and under-compensated.

    Yet communities that are educated on their civil rights and property rights can assert their rights.

    If Tanzanian women succeed in securing their true property rights, they’ll have taken a major step toward alleviating poverty and social inequities in their communities.

  • Tuesday, December 27, 2016 9:00 AM | Emma Hill

    Kwanza starts this Tuesday, December 26and continues until Monday, January 1.

    Photo:Wikimedia Commons

    Kwanza is a relatively young holiday, celebrated in the US, Canada and parts of West Africa.  Maulana Karenga, founded Kwanza  in 1966 to celebrate African American culture & community.  The holiday promotes the Seven Principles of African Heritage.    

    1) Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
    2) Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define and name ourselves, as well as to create and speak for ourselves.
    3) Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems and to solve them together.
    4) Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
    5) Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
    6) Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
    7) Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

    Families celebrating Kwanza set up symbolic display: seven candles in a candle holder, vegetables, corn, a unity cup, and gifts on a mat. The house is often decorated with African art, colorful clothes like kentia, and fresh fruit.  It's estimated that several million African Americans celebrate the holiday each year.

    Photo by Christopher Myers, Wikimedia Commons


  • Saturday, December 10, 2016 12:32 PM | Emma Hill

    Today is Human Rights Day! Every 10 December, we are called to consider a broad range of issues that threaten or protect human rights. Human Rights Day was begun on December 10, 1948, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day. (1)

    Human Rights is a broad topic. In recent decades it's been used to describe natural rights, civic rights and political rights. Human rights has often been a central rallying point for a number of social and political movements that sought to eliminate injustices and improve quality of life.  This holiday becomes a day for diverse activist groups and people from all walks of life to call attention to their specific focus for human rights.  It's also a time to remember past leaders and agents of change. 

    Here are some notable human rights statements.

    The struggle for increased human rights, and better protection for those rights can be so broad it can be hard to relate to.   To condense human rights into a single issue, we'll look at land rights in Tanzania.  Stay tuned next week for an article about Tanzanian land rights & land use! 



  • Wednesday, November 23, 2016 6:00 AM | Emma Hill

    Add some East African flair to your Thanksgiving this year with 2 recipes from Brighter Tanzania's cookbook! (Coming soon.)   These are great additions to a breakfast, brunch, or even dessert!   

    Edit: Stick a fork in it, our cookbook is ready for purchase, in softcover and ebook format. (I personally prefer the ebook format!)

    East African Chai

    Chai is how many East Africans start and end their days. The basic flavor profile below is typical of East Africa. There's a lot of regional variations in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. Even towns and individual households have their own twist on this basic recipe. The spices used in East African Chai have strong flavors; slightly different ratios, substitutions, and brew time variations can change the whole experience.  

     Chai Tea with decorative cream. Photo by Felicia McKenzie. 


    • 4 cups milk
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 tsp. whole black peppercorn
    • 1/2 tsp. cloves
    • 1 long cinnamon stick (about 4 inches)
    • 1 tbsp. (approx 6-8) whole cardamom pods (opened a bit)
    • 1 tbsp. minced ginger
    • 4 tbsp. sugar or to taste
    • 4 tea bags or 1½ tbsp. loose black tea leaves (black tea variety up to you)


    1. In a medium size pot, simmer the water with the tea bags, all the spices, and the ginger, covered, for 10-15 minutes.  
    2. Uncover and add the milk, stirring evenly while it heats up. Be aware that milk can burn easily. Steady stirring helps prevent that.
    3. Let the milk starts to simmer and rise up the edges of the pot. Remove the pot from the heat and let the simmering settle.
    4. Strain to remove tea leaves, sticks, etc.  Add sugar to taste, if necessary.


    Mandazi, or “African doughnut” is a sweet, fried dough common to Tanzania and Kenya. They are wonderful with powdered sugar, syrup or a dipping sauce of your choice. Mandazi is often served with Chai.

    Mandazi and Coffee. Delicious. Photo by Felicia McKenzie.  


    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup coconut milk
    • 2 Tbsp. melted butter or oil
    • 3 cups white flour
    • 2 tsp. Baking yeast
    • 1 tablespoon cinnamon or cardamom
    • 1 cup vegetable oil for frying
    • ¼ cup powdered sugar

     Mandazi cooked in a traditional kitchen. Photo by Steph Walczak.  


    1. Dissolve the yeast in a small amount of warm water.
    2. In a medium sized bowl, beat the egg until well mixed, then add coconut milk and sugar while stirring.
    3. Place 2 cups of flour in a bowl; add the cinnamon or cardamom, then add the starchy yeast water. Work into a sticky dough, and add about half the liquid mixture from the first bowl.
    4. While kneading, alternately add the remainder of the flour and egg mixture.
    5. When all ingredients are well mixed, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for approximately 15 minutes until it is soft and elastic.
    6. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes
    7. Divide into 8-10 pieces. Roll out each piece to approximately ¼ - ½” then slice into quarters.
    8. Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat and deep-fry dough until golden brown.
    9. Remove from oil and place on paper towel to remove excess oil. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm.

  • Sunday, November 20, 2016 12:38 PM | Emma Hill

    Universal Children’s Day is celebrated every November 20th.  This year, Google posted a special google doodle in honor of the event. 

    Google Doodle celebrates Children's Day (Photo: Google)

    Universal Children’s’ day was begun in 1954 by the United Nations. Thereafter, November 20 has been a significant date for advancing the rights and status of children. In 1959, on November 20th, the UN General Counsel adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child.  In 1989, also on November 20th, the UN General Assembly adopted the  Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    Universal Children’s day is not only the anniversary of these historic milestones, but it also seeks to raise awareness of international child welfare and to encourage activists around the globe to improve child welfare.  The political and social agenda behind Universal Children’s Day is, by necessity, very broad.  The welfare of children vary widely by country and region, according to available resources, economic and technological development, educational opportunities, medical access, and cultural beliefs about raising children.  

    In general, the holiday, as well as the Declaration and the Convention, seek to:

    • ensure the protection of children from physical or mental violence, and other degrading punishments.
    • protect children from abuse and exploitation. (Child labor is considered one of the most common forms of exploitation.)
    • assert basic human rights for children, as well as the right to his or her own name and identity, and access to both parents, even if separated, and to be raised in a family group.
    • assert basic social rights, including education, access to health care, etc. 

  • Wednesday, November 16, 2016 1:05 AM | Felicia McKenzie (Administrator)

    Hello from Tanzania!

    Things have been going quite well since I arrived on Friday afternoon, and it looks like much of my agenda should be accomplished before I leave.

    We have procured a number of items desperately needed at the school, including new teaching books to replace those that had been worn out, erasers, pens, and even a new jump rope for break time.

    A local carpenter has been contracted to build two new desks, and we have discussed building the library shelving and a file cabinet for student records.  

    A few changes have been made to the design of the library, and have therefore changed the design of the bookshelves to A-frames.  This does make the shelves more expensive than originally anticipated, but using this style of bookshelf will ultimately give us more versatility.

    More updates should be forthcoming!

  • Tuesday, November 08, 2016 7:03 PM | Emma Hill

    Today is Election Day here in the US, and although I’m sitting in front of the computer watching the results come in, I think I’m more anxious about tomorrow. That’s because tomorrow is when I finally return to Tanzania. The entire day is bound to seem excruciatingly long; I no doubt will check my email every 5 minutes for updates from Grace, and only give up when it's time to board my flight.

    It probably seems silly that I’m so excited for a 2 week trip devoted to working. The thing is, I began this organization because it’s my passion in life.


    Having way too much fun with Grace at the snake park back in 2013.

    Despite my initial reservations about beginning this journey, I’m ecstatic that I did. I can’t imagine what else I could possibly be doing with my life that could give me so much gratification, or keep me this dedicated and focused. I came to love doing this more every day, even as things continue to get more difficult and convoluted. I’ve learned so much by taking on this role, about myself, about other people, about business, and about Tanzania.

    So returning to Tanzania to continue doing something I love doesn’t feel like work to me. Its simply a new challenge, to grow the school, the organization, and myself.

    There have been a few changes to my arrangements for this trip, although it shouldn’t impact my ability to accomplish any of the items on my agenda. Grace’s husband is not currently travelling for work, which means she will be staying at home with her family instead of staying at the school. Because the school will now be empty at night, Grace has asked me to stay with her family. They have already set up a room in preparation for me, and it sounds like the entire family is as excited for my visit as I am!

    My accommodation change also means that I will not be able to visit the students at the school during class hours until Monday.  Although I'm disappointed I won't get to see them in action for a few days, it does mean Grace and I have some time to prepare.  I've packed a book to read and a large bag of Lego candy to use for a counting lesson, and we'll have to find a non-disruptive way to work both into the lesson plans for the week.

    With all that's been happening lately, I'd like to take a moment to thank all of the wonderful volunteer staff keeping BTF afloat in my absence.  After all, none of this would be possible without dedicated people to carry it out!  Asante sana!

Brighter Tanzania Foundation is a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization. Donations may be tax-deductible.

Phone: (608) 886-9160

8383 Greenway Blvd PMB 633
Middleton, WI 53562

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