This article highlights the context of the recent surge in democratizing data usage in Tanzania and the column's position in that surge. Datasets in education are also shared.
For the first piece of the column, I want to spend time looking at a non-exhaustive overview of the state of data in Tanzania. I named this column "Elimu, Mwalimu", meaning "Education, Teacher!", due to my interests in the sectors of education and health. This piece will be an introductory column piece offering the general context of the column. While most of the analysis for this column will be on education, I believe the education and health sector challenges mimic each other owing to their shared history since the nation's establishment.
Data has taken the world by storm. It comes by the terabyte and in various forms. However, most importantly is the general consensus that data has and still can change the world around us. Tanzania is of no exception in this revolution. Recently, I encountered the work of organizations like DataLab, DataZetu, and Data for Local Impact Innovation Challenge (DLIIC) on Twitter. Together, they represent a broader movement seeking to democratize data usage and empower Tanzanians to unlock the potential of data in diverse fields. Personally, it was important for me to see a community with a common drive to make something seemingly out of nothing. I highlight here one part of the data surge that has motivated my decision to recommit to etching my voice in the universe. My encounter came at a pivotal moment in which I was on my personal data project (more on this later, I promise!), but feeling ever alone against a Goliath of challenges. It was just what I needed to power me through.
The institutional support for data utilization, though fragmented, does exist. The key personal difference was feeling the tangible benefits of their existence. For instance, every challenge from DLIIC comes with a packet which includes a wealth of resources pertaining to the challenge. While I knew some resources listed for one specific challenge, I was pleasantly surprised to find new gems that could prove immediately helpful. My mindset changed from being blocked by challenges to being open to opportunities - a wonderful byproduct of these newfound resources. I believe that is a quality that makes for successful innovators. I still have much growth to make in my mindset as an innovator in an ever-changing field. I hope this column serves to inspire others to never cease pursuing a better world for others by any means necessary (data happens to be a really cool means to do so!).
As a human, I do have my biases. In the case of Tanzania, I am partial to the ideals of Ujamaa, the socialist principles that guided the early years of Tanzanian governance. The aforementioned idolization of the open data movement and the inherent focus on the social sector of this column are in part inspired by Ujamaa. In essence, I believe in doing good for others in whatever occupies my time. I still grapple with how to do so while maintaining a sustainable income- nevertheless, that is an ideal I keep striving toward, an ideal as fixed as the northern star. To that end, I close this piece by sharing the disparate resources that I have amassed over time while studying Tanzanian education. I hope they can be of use to you in your relentless pursuit of doing good.
Resources for Tanzanian Education Landscape (updated 2/13/2018)
Photo Credit to OpenClipArt