The power of community action in development: The work of KOCD

Kilombero Organization for Community Development, previously known as Kilombero Group for Community Development is a Civil Society Organization based in Kilombero, Morogoro but running projects all across Morogoro. Funded by Foundation for Civil Society, KOCD has been able to leverage the power of civil participation in development to improve education in the wards of Kidatu, Mofu, Mlimba and Mbingu. This project was implemented between October 2016 and March 2017, and its impact can be traced to this date in the areas that benefited from the project.

KOCD intervention began by a survey of the challenges in the Education sector, and sharing the findings with the district council. KOCD also tapped into the power of citizen participation and trained the members of school and village committees on tracking of public expenditure and created an awareness of the responsibility that lies upon the community to develop their schools. These committees then became agents of change, mobilizing their communities to take ownership and responsibility and contribute to the development of their schools.

Ihenga Primary School is one of the schools that benefited from the collective power of parents and villagers in contribution. Ihenga Primary School has 1222 students, 400 being in kindergarten. However, all these students only have 4 classes to share among the 8 grades they have. According to the Assistant Head Teacher, Ms Siyawezi Selemani, about 50% of the class period would get lost because students of different classes have to share rooms and so teachers enter classes in turns. Teachers would also use the shade of a tree as their staff room and that posed an inconvenience in their work and diminished their morale.

However, after the school and village committees attended the seminar, they came back and mobilized the community to join hands in improving the learning conditions. At Ihenga Primary School the school committee organized meetings with parents and the village committee helped mobilize all village members to join in. They had to address challenges such as some villagers thinking that because their children do not go to the school then they do not have any role to play in its development, and in the end the whole village of about 2000 people came together and were able to build two new classes and a staff room, raising the total number of classes from 4 to 6. The government has promised that when the community has been able to build a class it will complete the finishing. This partnership between the government and its citizens seems to be speeding up development of educational infrastructure.

The community’s success in building the two classes and the staff room has significantly minimized the number of learning periods that are lost due to class sharing, has boosted the morale of teachers who now have their own staff room, and has inspired the villagers and school committee to do even more. The committee is constantly engaging parents and villagers and asking them to propose interventions. Recently, they have started working on building two more classes and 20 latrines for the school. All this a result of the intervention by KOCD in educating the school and village committee on taking responsibility and holding the government accountable in Education spending.

Jitegemee, Mlimba, and Kidatu Primary Schools were other beneficiaries on the work done by KOCD in their project. School and village committees were educated on their responsibility in improving the schools as well as how to hold the government accountable in its education spending. The results were as impressive in these schools. Jitegemee Primary School, with 1187 students and 7 teachers, was able to build two 2 classes and 4 latrines. They were also able to mobilize the community to contribute and engage 4 temporary teachers (graduate teachers waiting to be employed by the government) to teach lower classes in order to increase the number of teachers at the school. “The community around the school is made up of farmers,micro-business owners, and civil servants, and the awareness that the school belonged to them helped in mobilizing them to take responsibility” says Ms Yalinda, the Assistant Head Teacher of the school.

Mlimba Primary School, with 1342 students, only had 10 teachers. However, through the education that the school committee had received in the training done by KOCD they were able to mobilize the parents through parent meetings, and resolved to engage 5 new qualified teachers to minimize the problem. With only 13 latrines, the community was mobilized to contribute and 8 new latrines were made, making a total of 21 latrine at the school. They have also made efforts in building teachers houses and supplying power to all classroom buildings.

Kidatu Primary School was also able to mobilize citizens and build 10 new latrine holes to be used by students. They also managed to use their resources to raise money: for example, they sold one of the trees they had to make timber and the proceeds added to the budget for installing a water system in the new toilets.

These are just examples of the power of civil society in bringing about education. Kilombero Organization for Community Development was able to educate and mobilize these communities to use their collective power in solving challenges in education and holding the government accountable. The more the community gets involved in development efforts, the faster we can move ahead.

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