By Mary Hearty

There’s hope for young women in Zanzibar after the African Development Bank (AfDB) granted the country 32.7 million dollars to build two vocational training centres and equip them.

The project aims at empowering the young girls by training them on how to read, write, and master basic numeracy.

The centres, which include Raha Leo Alternative Learning Centre and Mkokotoni Learning Centre, are now giving the young students who had missed out on education a second chance of success in life.

For instance, 21-year-old Hadia Baruti Wimbi joined the Raha Leo Alternative Centre to get trained in order to empower herself in life.

“If I hadn’t come to this centre, I would have spent my life doing domestic work. Now, I can read and write. I’m sure that once I’ve finished my studies, I’ll be able to set up my own business. I’m so glad to have studied here,” said Hadia.

The Bank has also contributed to improving teachers’ manuals. The centres that started with only 12 boarding students, now have more than 2,000 students gaining a basic education.

“We had just 12 students in the Raha Leo Alternative Learning Centre when we opened in 2006. Every one of them had dropped out of school,” said Kazija Salmin Ufuzo, a teacher of Swahili and mathematics at the centre

Also, she said, since the students needed other skills, too, a variety of programs have been launched such as homecraft, computer maintenance, agriculture, carpentry, electrical installation, cookery and sewing.

Through the program, the bank has also financed more than 6,000 interest free small loans to students especially women, to open their own businesses.

Former students, Subira Haji Khamisa, together with her five colleagues, are among the beneficiaries of the small loans. In 2013, they set up their own business.

“The centre has helped me a lot,” said Subira.

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