Neema Swai, Senior Programme Officer at Amend Tanzania
My work is fun! It’s also important. Since 2012, I have worked with children across Tanzania, teaching them how to keep themselves safe on the roads.
Africa has the highest rate of road deaths of all the world’s regions, and Tanzania has a higher rate of road deaths than the average for Africa. Road traffic injury is the leading cause of death of children and young people.
Child pedestrians are among the most vulnerable groups of road users. In Dar es Salaam, around 80% of primary schoolchildren walk to school unaccompanied by an adult. Even six-year-olds can be seen walking along and crossing highways alone.
Teaching children lessons like how to cross and walk along the road safely is one part of the solution – and this is the focus of my work with Amend. Education is most effective when it is engaging. I run road safety drawing competitions, set up road safety clubs, and get child road safety ambassadors interacting with drivers, the police and government officials.
But of all the activities I have run, the most fun – and possibly the most effective – is the Kids’ Court.
Kids’ Court involves training schoolchildren to be judges and empowering them with the knowledge and confidence to stand in front of adults to educate them about road safety. Partnering with Amend, traffic police stop drivers who are caught driving recklessly outside schools and invite them into the Kids’ Court, where they are questioned by the child judges.
I felt good because we were here judging the drivers. They were scared, and I also thought I would be afraid of them. But no: I managed to judge them, and they left learning new things11-YEAR-OLD JUDGE
The children love it. Seeing the way the child judges develop from the first training session to when they are passing judgment on a driver’s behaviour is incredible. The children develop confidence and critical thinking – they are given the opportunity to question the behaviour of adults, which never happens in their day-to-day lives.
The drivers appreciate it. While few of them enjoy being questioned by children, the majority of them recognise the benefits and leave the court with a positive impression.
Being questioned by kids felt really bad, and I was ashamed of myself. Is it correct to learn from people whom we are supposed to teach and protect?Driver
An evaluation of Kids’ Court – supported by a T-TRIID grant from the UKAid-funded High Volume Transport Applied Research Programme – found that the benefits spread beyond the classroom. The child judges talk to their families and friends, and messages spread through communities. Those communities – and even the drivers who are stopped – develop a good impression of the police, recognising that they are genuinely working to improve road safety.
At home, she tells her father ‘nobody is allowed in the car without a seatbelt’. The conversation is always like this.PARENT OF A CHILD JUDGE
Our Kids’ Court programme is now active in Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania.
But we are not stopping here. Again with the support of the UKAid-funded High Volume Transport Applied Research Programme, we are now developing a Kids’ High Court. Rather than targeting drivers, the child judges will call before the court those people who are responsible for the design and construction of roads. Government officials, engineers, contractors, donor partners – all will be summoned to face the court.
The aim of the Kids’ High Court is to ensure that the relevant people understand the issues that face children on their walk to school, so that roads can be built safely. I believe that a city designed for children will be a city that is safe for all.
To read the full T-TRIID report on the impact assessment of Kid’s Court road safety interventions, click here.
For more information, the Amend Kid’s Court brochure can be downloaded here.
About Amend: Amend is an award-winning, international, not-for-profit organisation focused on injury prevention, health and urban development. Since our founding in 2006, we have become leaders in evidence-based interventions that reduce the incidence of road traffic injury among the most vulnerable road users in sub-Saharan Africa today — while working to create environments for long-term, sustainable safety for the future.