Radio Schools for Child Labourers


During the 2000s, there were an estimated five million school age children with little or no access to primary education. An estimated 4.7 million were involved in economic activity and 300,000 children were engaged in the worst forms of child labour.

Providing access to high quality, relevant education is the best way to eliminate child labour. Since completion of a successful pilot programme in 2003, we distributed more than 2,500 of  our solar and wind-up radios in Tanzania to support Mambo Elimu, which means ‘education is everything’ in Swahili. Mambo Elimu was a distance learning radio initiative developed by Education Development Center (EDC) in collaboration with the Ministry of Education.

Broadcast over the national radio station network, Mambo Elimu provided a high quality basic education to children aged 10-17. But children out of school, especially orphans, need more than literacy and numeracy, so programmes also include segments on AIDS prevention, nutrition, hygiene, gardening, and other practical survival skills. Mambo Elimu was considered to have been an unqualified success and children learning from Mambo Elimu with a Lifeline radio scored higher marks than children in formal schools and in half the time.

A grant from the Vodafone Group Foundation funded 300 of the radios to ensure children in the most remote areas had access to a good education. Thanks to the generosity of readers during The Times Christmas Appeal in 2005 a further 1,000  radios were distributed in Tanzania along with a further gift of 100 Lifeline radios donated by the US Oswald Family Foundation and GlobalGiving.  Our US Ambassador and two-time Academy Award winner, Tom Hanks, also made a major donation which funded an additional 1,000 radios for Mambo Elimu.