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Seeding a child-led movement that fosters safe and inclusive Catholic schools in Tanzania

In Tanzanian schools there is an unwritten rule that children should be obedient and disciplined, passive, and never question the authority of their elders. This rule has led many teachers to believe that their role is to control students, even if it means using punitive measures. Unfortunately, this approach often leads to high levels of physical and emotional violence against children by both teachers and parents, creating an unsafe learning environment in schools. Moreover, the unwritten rules limit the power of children to effect change in school practices and culture.


We have recently embarked on a 2-year participatory action research (PAR) project that aims to demonstrate a solution to this problem. Building on research conducted by Citizens 4 Change to understand children’s perceptions about the prevalence of violence in schools, this project will aim to seed a child-led movement that fosters safe and inclusive Catholic schools in Tanzania.

Over the next 2-years we will work in 16 schools to:

  • Design the tools and processes that underpin the movement for school safety

  • Equip young people with skills and networks to facilitate a child led movement for child safety

  • Embed a culture of protective behaviours within schools

  • Prototype school based solutions to children feeling unsafe

  • Build evidence of what works to create safe and inclusive schools

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Resolving the Collective Action Problem of Violence Against Women and Children in Shinyanga District, Tanzania with the Women Fund Tanzania Trust

Women Fund Tanzania Trust wanted to understand how people can resolve the complex collective action problem of violence against women and children in Shinyanga District, Tanzania. We designed and facilitated a 2 year action research project with community members in 18 wards where we

  • Mapped highly connected individuals; enabling us to understand people’s help-seeking behaviours and relationships 

  • Interviewed government officials and local leaders to understand how much urgency for change they felt

  • Undertook dialogue with over 900 women, children, men and government officials to explore how they make sense of the system in which violence arises

  • Worked with the same citizens to brainstorm their ideas for solutions to violence and prototyped their ideas to learn what worked best and in what settings

  • Monitored the changes resulting from these prototypes to show that communities are actively working to prevent violence.

Want to know more about our research with WFT?Click hereYou can also read the full report and

summary report.

Exploring the wellbeing of care leavers: A study on residential care in Tanzania

We recently partnered with World Childhood Foundation and Eriks Development to explore the experience of young adults who spent time in residential care centres as children. This study, a collaborative effort between C4C, Railway Children, Pamoja Leo, and the Families and Futures Coalition of Tanzania, and seeks to inform our advocacy with the lived experience of young people.

This is a mixed methods study that collects data from 284 participants; 253 surveys and 31 narrative interviews. The research intent is to understand the perspectives of two groups of people; adults who come into contact with vulnerable children and young adults who grew up in care. In doing so, the study seeks to:

  • Strengthen the meaningful participation of young people in understanding the drivers and consequences of living in residential care settings; and ensure that their perspectives inform alternative care solutions
  • Better understand the care journeys that children take as they move between the family, the street, residential care and other care settings
  • Understand the nature of supportive relationships that protect children in both residential care and family settings
  • Inform advocacy with evidence and young people’s perspectives, priorities and needs

Read the full report.


Exploring the prevalence, types and costs of violence against children in schools in Tanzania

In 2021, the Porticus Foundation commissioned C4C to conduct a study to examine the prevalence, nature and drivers of violence in schools in Tanzania. Our research into the experiences of 188 primary and secondary students across the country revealed that corporal punishment and the attendant emotional harms are pervasive and pernicious, with 39% of children across all age groups saying that corporal punishment has occurred. What’s more, it is close authority figures such as teachers who pose the most danger for children. 


This piece of work highlighted the importance of child-centred approaches to seed child-led movements for safe and inclusive schools. To accomplish this, we facilitate meaningful child participation via our partnerships with Junior Councils, the Catholic church and Shule Direct. We also support children to learn protective behaviours, we develop their ideas for school safety and we put their ideas into action within schools and the wider community.


If you would like to read our full report, you can do so here.

Investigating the nature, prevalence and changing dynamics of protective social norms in Tanzania and Uganda with the Institute of Social Innovation at Fielding Graduate University

In March 2020 our founder and CEO Dr Kate McAlpine received the Dianne Kipnes Fund for Social Innovation from the Institute of Social Innovation at Fielding Graduate University, for her investigation into the nature, prevalence and changing dynamics of protective social norms in Tanzania and Uganda. Described as “a highly collaborative innovation for the betterment of children in Africa’, Dr McAlpine’s research not only serves to examine child abuse and abusers, but it also explores the worldview of Tanzanians who actually take action to protect children.

This work led Dr McAlpine to understand the Ujasiri mindset as that which differentiates these child protectors from those who say “it’s none of my business” when they see a child suffer at the hands of a violent perpetrator. Ujasiri - the Swahili term for courage, fortitude and resilience - is a moral driver founded in empathy, stemming from an individual’s experience of their own childhood. When employed it can act as a powerful tool to mobilise citizens to do the right thing by children.

If you would like to explore Dr McAlpine's research further, you can do so here.

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