Our very own Faudhia Zando (FSO chairperson and founder) spent a few weeks in Germany during July putting the finishing touches on plans for the Circus4Life exchange project which she has been working on for 12 months. The project is an exchange between Tanzania and Germany, Forward Step Organization (FSO) and BAG-Zirkus (The Federal Working Community – Circus Education). BAG-Zirkus is an association of children and youth circus groups and circus educators in Germany.  

Here’s a link to their website: https://www.bag-zirkus.de/index.php/ueber-uns

Faudhia has great passion and experience in this field as she studied and performed as an acrobat in the circus environment from a very young age.  She no longer performs but has many connections and ongoing interest and belief in the ability of circus and physical movement as a tool to better stimulate the mind.  Her personal experience is proof that this can be a great method of generating more consistent energy and concentration leading to improved education results.

The Tanzanian team during phase one in Bagamoyo

Faudhia and Wolfgang Pruisken (Chairman of the LAG Circus Niedersachen, Board of BAG Circus Education), were introduced at a conference in August 2018 held by the Tanzanian Youth Coalition (TYC) and African-German Youth Initiative (AGYI).  The purpose of the conference was to introduce partners to facilitate youth exchange in the context of education for sustainable development.   They made a great connection due to their shared belief in the power of Circus Arts as a tool to enhance education through innovation.

Together they designed a Youth Exchange Project focusing on the UN Sustainable Development Goal for Quality Education (SDG4) to specifically use Circus Arts as a contribution to learning.  The project requires equal participation from the Global North and Global South. The exchange will showcase the importance of both male and female circus artists in education and performance.  

The objective of Circus4Life is to provide circus trainers with appropriate skills for training children and to build a network of trainers across both countries with skills to assist young students in utilising Circus Arts as a medium to create a physical learning environment.  It is specifically designed to empower young people through circus both in Tanzania and Germany.  

Recent Canadian studies have shown, for example, that children have significantly improved their abilities in all areas, even those that have not been practiced, by participating in a long-term circus program that has replaced traditional sports. 

The variety of exercise offered by circus provides an affirmative framework for children and adolescents that ties in with normal childish behaviour.  Young children experience every newly learned movement as an accomplishment.  Children and teenagers learn to trust themselves.  Circus is used as a model for successful inclusive work.

The project aims to use circus as a tool for community transformation, focusing on the United Nations SDG4.  To ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. 

The following quote from the UN SDG website explains more about the need for this initiative:

Despite the considerable progress on education access and participation over the past years, 262 million children and youth aged 6 to 17 were still out of school in 2017, and more than half of children and adolescents are not meeting minimum proficiency standards in reading and mathematics.  Rapid technological changes present opportunities and challenges, but the learning environment, the capacities of teachers and the quality of education have not kept pace. Refocused efforts are needed to improve learning outcomes for the full life cycle, especially for women, girls and marginalized people in vulnerable settings.

Here’s a link to the United Nations website if you want to know more: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg4

The Circus4Life project began the first phase in Bagamoyo at the FSO Learning Centre on September 11thand 12th with 8 youth educators from across different regions of Tanzania and two group leaders.  A two-day workshop was held which culminated in a performance at the end of the second day.  The same phase 1 program has been held in the Circus Active School at Gschwend (outside Stuttgart). Check out the photos below from the Bagamoyo session to see what a great event it was.

The second phase of the project will be held in Bagamoyo from 4thNovember until the 18thNovember 2019, when the German and Tanzanian delegates will come together for the first time for ten days of workshops and seminars.  

Phase three will be held in February, when the Tanzanian participants come together again to reflect on the November exchange.  The German participants will be doing the same.

The fourth and final phase of the project is to take place in Gschwend on the 4thMay 2020 when the Tanzanian participants will travel to Germany for their side of the exchange.  More collaboration and seminars will take place and the finale of the exchange will be a performance involving all participants.

This is a very exciting initiative for FSO and we will update you on the next phases of the program when they happen and look forward to sharing the outcomes with you along the way.

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