Students at a school in Mbagala are speaking out by writing on the walls — with permission of course.
The murals are being painted children in grade four and seven at Kizinga Primary School and will tell stories about sexual abuse, child marriage and importance of parental support, especially for girls.
“Our philosophy is to empower children to be agents of change and to create space where they could voice their concerns, claim for their rights and give their opinions regarding problems or challenges they face as children,” says Kokuteta Mutembei, director of EKAMA Development Foundation, which is involved in overseeing the mural project.
“Mbagala is an area where there are increasing cases of sexual abuse of boys and girls, incidences of school dropouts because of pregnancy and incidences of child marriage. Any other school could have participated in this exercise, but the goal is not to just target the school, the goal is to reach out to as many people in the community so that they can understand the problem and take action to respond to the problem,” says Mutembei.
Mutembei says violence against children is a major threat to national development as it affects children’s access to education, proper development, health, psychological and emotional growth and can even lead to disability or death.
Local artist Abbas Mbuka is assisting the children as they create their masterpieces.
Using perimeter walls to send a message is part of an Africa-wide initiative by the High Commissions of Canada, which are filling the barren walls of their embassy perimeter with advocacy-focused art.
In Tanzania, the High Commission has partnered with Ekama and the Tanzania Ending Child Marriage Network to make the art more accessible to the children it is meant to represent by using the walls of a school compound.
On June 16, the Day of the African Child, the High Commissioner of Canada Alexandre Leveque will inaugurate the completed mural at Kizinga Primary School.