100% attendance at a glance! It may be a snapshot in time but, whilst at Arise School last Friday, Ron took this photo of the attendance board. It shows that every pupil on the school register was in school that day. There were no absences at all in any of the six classes. Quite an achievement and one that is not atypical of any day at Arise. This is in marked contrast to many other primary schools in rural parts of Tanzania where absenteeism runs at an average of 20%. In urban areas it is even higher.
The board also shows a couple of other things. Firstly, at the beginning of the new school year in January, there were 172 children registered. During the course of the term, the number of pupils has continued to increase and there are now 184 children in attendance.
This shows the increasing popularity of Arise as the choice of parents in the local community. Secondly, one of the things that is particularly pleasing, and that has been an aim at Arise from the outset, is that there are almost as many girls in attendance as boys. Where parents struggle to afford school fees, it is still so often the boys who are afforded precedence over their sisters when it comes to education.
So why is attendance so good at Arise School? Why do the children always look happy to be there? We can only conjecture but it seems no coincidence that, unlike other schools throughout Tanzania, corporal punishment is forbidden. We know that there are a number of children at Arise who initially attended government schools but were beaten, often for no fault of their own. Some were from families who wanted their child to have an education but were too poor to be able to afford school uniform, books or pens and pencils. Their children were punished as a result and they were too frightened to return to school again. Now, they happily attend Arise School everyday. They are pleased to come to school and, along with their fellow pupils, enjoy learning in an environment without fear.