Kicking off a new series for Friday afternoons, Students Speak contains some of the highlights from our conversations with students each week. This isn’t about getting an ‘accurate’ picture of Tanzania so much as learning how the students we meet with each week see their world.
THE LADIES discussed the issue of girls in school. ‘Sugar Daddies’ are men who offer to pay a girl’s school fees but often expect sexual favours in return. Some girls end up pregnant which means they are not allowed to continue in school (though they may return, perhaps to a different school after the baby is born). The students believe the fault is the man’s and there are hefty penalties for men who do this — up to 30 years in prison! Also, the parents of the man are responsible to pay for the child’s upbringing to the age of 7. The students believe the situation is not the girl’s fault because she is young and naive but think parents should do a better job of educating their daughters about the dangers.
THE FELLAS talked about problems for university students. In Tanzania, going to university is a cross-cultural exercise. The university has its own culture, one meant to equalise people from different backgrounds. But this means that traditional practices may be out of place. Away from family and tribe, students are often confronted by different cultural practices. Perhaps in your tribe, how you dress says something about marital status. Or perhaps men and women operate fairly separately. Navigating the university context can be pretty confusing. Students can feel alone and isolated. That can make them vulnerable.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.