Six primary schools, 3000 attending pupils as well as hundreds of visitors and policy-makers made this year’s campaign of “We Ring The Bell” become a huge success in Karagwe district and beyond.
Kayanga, 22/03/2017 – This year’s campaign of “We Ring The Bell” started early in the morning with a peaceful demonstration from Kambarage primary school to the city-centre of Kayanga where KCBRP representatives welcomed guests and provided information-materials. The arriving students had prepared various posters and balloons addressed at both, the public and officials from government or private institutions. A group of nearly 50 disabled students were among the protesters and truly enjoyed singing and dancing to traditional brass-music performed by about 20 volunteering scouts. Together they gave a clear picture of their demands: More inclusion and participation of disabled children in schools, better health-care, access to more services and an open discussion.
These claims reached their level at 11:10 o’clock when students, teachers and KCBRP staffs literally “rang the bell” for one minute through frequent shouts, whistles and by singing songs. As a reaction, lots of people left their houses and shops to observe what was going on; additionally, all major radio-stations were present and broadcasted the event to a large audience in Kagera region.
“By making noise for one minute in their schoolyards, the children celebrate the fact that they can go to school. At the same time, they pay attention to the fact that many children with disabilities in developing countries do not have access to education.” – Liliane Foundation on Ring The Bell Awareness Campaign
After reaching the city-centre of Kayanga, pupils from Maguge primary school – including a unit of disabled children – shared their vision of an inclusive society to the guests and public. Some of them described their degrading experiences in daily life, e.g. the hard access to a personal bank account, physical barriers in the public or insufficient policies like the Free Education Policy which does not take full care of given social, cultural and systemic barriers.
The latter argument gained further attention as only less than 10% of school-age children with disabilities in Tanzania have been enrolled to a school so far. Furthermore, most of those 10% being mentioned are separated in special institutions, others into integrated schools, facing the difficulty of transport to and from their schools, inaccessible school buildings and a lack of specialized teachers in supporting/teaching children with disabilities.
Apart from government leaders, various other stakeholders were invited including some nearby organizations partnering with LF Funded Child development programme and other religious, public or private institutions. Some organizations, such as Tumaini Fund, sponsored free exercise books to all pupils who participated in the event. Others, such as the District Commisioner, donated ten bags of cane sugar and stated their plans in the on-going national process of inclusion of vulnerable people.
Perspective & Lessons learned
The campaign’s goal – drawing attention from policy makers and the community to realize the relevance of a free education policy in Tanzania benefitting all society members – was successfully reached throughout multiple aspects. As an example, many civil actors spontaneously took pictures of the event, joined the demonstration and shared their experiences later on social media. Therefore, we see our ambitions as a good starting point for further discussions, although this was just the first step.
On the other hand, several actors asked us for a more collaborative atmosphere in future times, enabling more extensive preparations, such as the provision of dedicated staffs (in the case of local government).
Nevertheless, KCBRP and its members would like to thank all attendees of this event, especially the students- and scouts-groups who prepared themselves very well as well as our staffs, volunteers and Liliane Foundation who made this everything become possible. We also thank our official guests from government and private institutions for their lively discussions, the local police-station for providing security and radio FADECO & Karagwe for their presence.