Archive for September, 2011

September 23, 2011

Poor primary education, long-lasting effects.

A few days ago I read an article that presented some astounding data about the dismal status of primary education in Tanzania.  A study released last week by Uwezo Tanzania and Twaweza East Africa showed that students in primary schools are not learning effectively.  According to the study:

– Only four out of 10 pupils in Standard 7 in the country can read and understand simple paragraphs in English and Kiswahili and perform the basic arithmetic expected of a Standard 2 pupil, according to the study.

– Rural children have it particularly bad as urban children in Standard 3 are twice as likely to have gained Standard 2 level skills as their rural counterparts.

– Enrollment rates at the secondary and university levels are among the lowest in the world (ranked 131st and 136th respectively out of 139 countries surveyed)

– Only three in 10 Standard 3 pupils can read a Kiswahili story, and only three in 10 can add, subtract and multiply. Scores are worse in English, where only one in 10 can read a basic English story.

– By Standard 7, only about half of Tanzanian children could read a story in English, set at a Standard Two level, compared with 94% in Kenya.

– 32% of  Standard 7 children could not do a sum set at Standard 2 level, compared with 15% in Uganda and 12% in Kenya.

These statistics show that children are not learning at primary levels — a problem, the article states, that could be filtering up to other levels and weakening Tanzania’s skill base.  Failures at the most basic level could spell out failure in the future. Poor education may be hurting Tanzania’s ability to create skilled jobs and compete in the regional economy. It could also deny it the critical “21st century skills”: information literacy and ICT literacy, critical thinking, creativity, innovation and intellectual curiosity.

Improving education in Tanzania is not simply about short-term goals of improving test performance or teaching a child to read a book, its about building a foundation for Tanzania to become a more educated and competitive nation as a whole.  Poor education doesn’t just harm students now, it has long-lasting and far-reaching negative effects.

More up-to-date statistics on education coming soon!



September 15, 2011

A Fresh Approach to Social Action

Today I stumbled upon an article in the Huffington Post about a unique website that allows people to unite behind a common cause. allows individuals to launch online petitions at no cost and promote any issue that he or she chooses (as long as it doesn’t promote violence or bigotry).  The website hosts a variety of issues — from human trafficking and criminal justice to health and sustainable food.  In addition to publishing petitions, provides a variety of tools for social activists, including step-by-step guides for petition writing, online promotion, and audience targeting.  The ultimate mission of is  to build an international network of people empowered to fight for what’s right locally, nationally, and globally.

What most impresses me about is its message of empowerment.  The organization provides an approach to activism that is accessible to everyone.  While many people may be passionate about a specific cause, they may feel powerless to make a difference or feel unsure about steps forward to reaching their goal. not only provides an easy way for people to get the word out about an issue, but they also provide resources to help people communicate those issues in the most effective way possible and introduce them to other people and organizations who share similar goals and passions.  Each step of the way, activists can feel supported and encouraged that they can make a difference. recognizes that each petition serves a larger vision: “Each victory doesn’t just overcome an isolated case of inequality or injustice — it allows people to view important issues through a tangible, often personal lens, inspiring them to take further action and helping to build the deep commitment, connections, and momentum necessary to make ever-larger change possible.”

Organizations like provide realistic paths for us to move from  “idea to action, from talk to walk and from dreaming to doing.” (

If you know of other innovative resources for social action, be sure to comment!


September 7, 2011

Open Positions with AIA!

Achieve in Africa is looking to add new members to our team!  We are currently looking to fill Graphic Artist and Ambassador positions.  If you are interested in applying for either positions, please read the details below and follow the listed application instructions.  We’d love to have you join us!

Graphic Artist:

This is a virtual, volunteer-based position. We are looking for someone who is willing to contribute his/her skills to our organization for a few hours each week.  The Graphic Artist should have artistic sensibility, technical skill, communication ability, organization, and problem solving ability. The individual will have an opportunity to design graphics for our website and create brochures.   There is also an opportunity to brainstorm ways to translate our message better, and to create new graphics that facilitate your vision. The Graphic Artist should have an interest in the work that AIA is performing.

To apply, please send your resume and a cover letter along with a few examples of graphics that you have created to for consideration.

AIA Ambassador:

Achieve In Africa, Inc. is recruiting individuals to be a part of an ever-growing number of Ambassadors across the United States who are committed to advancing the education of children in rural African communities. Overcrowded classrooms, deteriorating buildings, and a lack of funding for higher education inhibit these children from reaching their true potential. By accepting the role of an AIA Ambassador, you become an integral part of our organization and have an immediate impact. AIA Ambassadors are highly motivated leaders responsible for creating and overseeing fundraising projects and events. The proceeds generated from these undertakings directly funnel into the development of important educational structures and curricula necessary to create positive learning environments.

If you are interested in becoming an AIA Ambassador, please email with your contact information and a short statement of why you would like to become an AIA Ambassador.

We hope to hear from you soon!