Older Infrastructure at Tanzanian Schools May Have a Disproportionate Effect on Female Education

By Jennifer Bruen, CCED Assistant Director 

The Women Building Tanzania (WBT) Team is proud to announce a new grant award from the MSU Alliance for African Partnership (AAP) Partnerships for Innovative Research in Africa (PIRA). The grant, in the amount of $99,920, will support the team as they create a detailed systems model to understand the nexus between energy and water infrastructure, gender roles and female education at Kiparang’anda Primary School in the Mkuranga District of Tanzania. Located 50 kilometers south of Dar es Salaam, along the Tanzanian coastal plain, the school was built in the early 1970s and now serves nearly 1,800 students. It has badly outgrown its infrastructure. Early work by the WBT research team identified inadequate sanitation, water, and energy facilities, leading to negative impacts on the female students. Moving forward, the team plans to prioritize the infrastructure issues, develop a research agenda, and identify two pilot projects for the near future.  

WBT began in 2013 as a result of a U.S. State Department Women’s Leadership Exchange. Professional Fellows Jennifer Bruen and Victoria Koda are leading WBT to improve female health, education, and career paths. A myriad of challenges related to cultural and gender norms, sanitation, and educational attainment have all been raised by Director Victoria Koda of Nia Hope for Youth Organization (NIAHOPU). The primary issues revolve around water, sanitation, and health, as these are negatively impacting access to education for female students across Tanzania. 

A new research partnership, funded by PIRA, will be driven by local needs, with a strong goal to build local capacity in addressing identified challenges towards finding solutions. As the WBT initiative moves from its original outreach and intervention focus to include this research component, the idea will be to create new knowledge and actionable opportunities for faculty researchers and students at several institutions. This partnership among MSU and University of Dar es Salaam junior faculty (Annick Anctil, George Berghorn, and Ronald Ndesanjo) and with support from senior faculty (Susan Masten and Colman Msoka), along with local organization involvement, will ensure that the co-creation of knowledge will be in a culturally sensitive manner. WBT’s demonstrated early successes, coupled with targeted research during the life of this project, will increase the likelihood of long-term, viable, and positive outcomes for the female students at Kiparang’anda Primary. 

For more information contact Jennifer Bruen, Assistant Director, Center for Community and Economic Development, bruenjen@msu.edu  


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