From its humble beginnings, the Kiteto Community Education Resource Centre (CERC) has now become an international model for rural education. Hailed by the Tanzanian Minister of education as "the only of its kind in Tanzania" the CERC provides services for all community members; from Kindergarten students learning to read, to adults completing university degrees through a correspondence course.
Opened in July of 2003, the Kiteto CERC is characterized in the community by two mottos, “Karibuni Tujifunze” and “Maarifa Mapya”. These mottos, “Everyone is Welcome” and “New and Exciting Things” respectively characterize what the CERC offers the Kiteto community. By providing an innovative resource centre which is available to all community members, the CERC hopes to improve the quality of life by providing educational support to individuals living in one of Tanzania's least educated areas.
Originally envisioned as a one room study centre for young women, the CERC has grown into a 14 room complex which was purpose built and designed by incorporating the ideas of a democratically elected community steering committee. The centre is open in the mornings, in the afternoons, and in the evenings so that all community members have ample opportunity to access its resources. CERC programming takes place inside the centre, outside in the complex, and around the community. The programs currently in operation include: two academic support centres with discussion rooms, an early learning centre, a continuing education centre, a reading area, basic literacy classes, English classes, computer classes, workshops and seminars, children’s playground, experiential teaching garden, and integrated health curriculum.
The location: Kibaya - Kiteto
Kibaya, with approximately 20,000 residents, is the largest town in northern Tanzania's isolated Kiteto District (pop. 160,000). Although Kiteto District is at the southern point of the Maasai homeland, Kibaya town itself is a diverse mixture of different tribes. The majority of individuals in Kiteto are involved in agriculture and livestock management, although a percentage engage in small-scale business and professional work. Kiteto is one of the most impoverished districts in the country due to its remote location, a shortage of clean water and a very limited supply of electricity. Despite these odds, there are still over 11,000 students district-wide who arrive at school each day hoping for an education. The Kiteto CERC is now providing these students with a plethora of innovative educational opportunities after school, as well as offering programs for adults and children not in school.
For more information please visit the CERC website at http://www.kitetocerc.org/.