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Our Board

Richard Mabala

Board Chair

Richard Mabala was born British and after graduating as a teacher came to Tanzania as a volunteer and fell in love with the country. He became a Tanzanian citizen and has taught in secondary schools, teacher colleges and the University of Dar es Salaam. Finally he decided he was more activist than academic and was founder member of several of Tanzania’s most influential NGOs (for gender and education). After an eight-year period with UNICEF where he worked to develop and prioritise adolescent programmes, he decided he wanted to go back to working directly with adolescents and young people. He left UNICEF and joined force with two young people to set up TAMASHA, a youth participatory development centre based in Arusha Tanzania. Mabala, a fluent Swahili speaker, is also a writer of children’s books, training manuals in life skills, gender and youth development and satirical columns in newspapers. He has now handed over leadership of TAMASHA to a younger person, and prefers Twitter to newpapers as his tweets reach a much larger audience. He is co-founder and consultant for HerDignity Consult which specialises in gender, youth and education and is trying to concentrate more on writing the many books that whirl round in his head. He is currently writing two novels, one in English and one in Kiswahili.

Dr. John Kalage

Board Secretary

John is the Executive Director for HakiElimu since May 2015. He has 27 years of professional experience in senior strategic management roles in national and international NGOs in Tanzania, Belgium, South Africa and Zambia. John worked as the Director of Programme Operations at Save the Children International Tanzania Office (6 yrs), Country Director for Student Partnership Worldwide (SPW) in Zambia and South Africa(3 yrs), Deputy Country Director for SPW Tanzania (2yrs), and with World Vision International in different capacities, in Tanzania and Belgium(over 10yrs).

John has extensive experience in education policy monitoring, strategic management, and financial and human resources management. He has strong advocacy skills and proven ability to build and develop organizational capacity for NGOs/CBOs, professional organizations, government agencies and institutions.

He is the Board Chairperson for Africa Network Campaign on Education for All (ANCEFA); the Eastern and Central Africa Regional Education Learning Initiative (RELI), and was the Board Chair for the Tanzania Education Network (TEN/MET) for six years until the end of 2021. He is currently a Board member of the Railway Children Africa, Light for the World Belgium (Tanzania) and Partnership for Nutrition in Tanzania (PANITA). He is also a member of St John’s University of Tanzania Governing Council and the University of Dar es Salaam Convocation Executive Committee.

John holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Dar es Salaam, M.Sc. in Education for Sustainability from the London South Bank University and PhD in Business Administration (DBA – Honoris Causa) from the Commonwealth University

Mwajabu Possi

Board Member

Professor Mwajabu Possi holds B.A. and M.A. in Education from the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and a second M.A. in Special Needs Education from the Ball State University, Indiana, USA. She also holds a PhD in Special Education in Applied Behavior Analysis from the Ohio State University, USA. Professor Possi attended Post-Doctoral Studies at the Harvard Medical School, USA in the Department of Social Medicine. She is a lecturer and researcher in Medical Psychology, Medical Sociology, Inclusive Education, Educational Psychology, Social Medicine, Gender, and Education for individuals with special needs, specifically those with a disability and gifted and talented individuals. She has taught Kiswahili and English Languages in secondary schools. She has more than 36 own and 22 co-authored articles, publications and research reports on special needs education, gender equality in education for people with disability, citizen participation in the democratic process in Tanzania, and investment in inclusive education, among others. Professor Possi is currently a Member and Chairperson of the Tanzania Society for the Blind, the Head of the Department of Social Sciences as well as the Gender Focal Point in the UDSM Mbeya College of Health and Allied Sciences.

Sylvester Orao

Board Member

Sylvester holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree – Public Administration (UDSM) and is also a Certified Public Accountant (CPA – PP) and Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA).

Sylvester has over twenty one (21) years of professional audit experience. He started his professional career with PricewaterhouseCoopers where he worked for Four years. He moved to KPMG Tanzania as an Audit Manager for two years and later to KPMG Channel Islands (UK) where he also worked for two years. Sylvester joined Ernest & Young Tanzania as an Audit Senior Manager where he worked for ten months before forming his own Firm, ABA Alliance. He is currently the Audit Partner at ABA Alliance, the Firm he formed about twelve years ago. ABA Alliance has grown over the years and has clients across the East African Region and beyond. He has, over the years, been able to provide professional audit and advisory services to a vast range of local and multi-national clientele. He is an accredited auditor for USAID/CDC funded projects/entities.

Sylvester served as a founding Board Member for Victoria Finance Plc since the inception in 2010 to 2018 and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of HAKIELIMU.

Apart from his professional career as an audit Partner at ABA Alliance, Sylvester loves Sports and Tourism. He is a Managing Director of Rao Tours & Safaris Limited. In his spare time, he works as Race Organizer. He is the Race Director for John Stephen Akhwari International Marathon and Saadani International Marathon.

Hellen Kijo Bisimba

Board Member

Dr. Helen Kijo-Bisimba is a distinguished human rights activist, defender, and former Executive Director of the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC). She is retired and has taken to write books in human rights and editing of books. She holds a PhD in law from the University of Warwick, UK, 2012. Prior to that, Helen went to the University of Dar es Salaam where she graduated in 1985 with a Bachelor of Law degree (LLB) and Master of Law degree (LLM), in 1994. A diploma in Education from the Dar-es-salaam College of Education in 1977. A mother of four, she remains a parent and a teacher to many of her acquaintances, in the human rights regime and in many other pursuits. She has been part and parcel of the making in many organisations as a board member, a researcher, editor, and publisher.


Victoria Lihiru

Board Member

Victoria Lihiru teaches law at the Open University of Tanzania. Victoria’s areas of specialisation are Regional Integration, Human Rights and Constitutional Law, with great interest in Women’s Political Participation and Inclusive Elections. With more than ten years of experience, Victoria consults with local and international Organisations in inclusive and Gender Responsive Elections, Democratic Governance, Policy Influencing, Gender and Disability Inclusion. Victoria strives to see a world where women and men have the opportunity to participate equally in democratic decision-making.

Illuminata Tukai

Board Member

Illuminata received her secondary education certificates from Dodoma Secondary School and then Kilakala Secondary School, (previously Marian Girls High School) in Morogoro Region. Illuminata graduated in Social Development and Administration from the University of Dar es Salaam in 1975, (and later on she graduated from the University of Dar es Salaam with MA in Sociology in 1981). Soon after her graduation, she was employed by the Department of Social Welfare as a Social Welfare Officer Family and Child Welfare Section. She joined the Child Development desk, which led her to work directly with UNICEF and other organisations dealing with child development projects.

As a head of the Child Development section, Illuminata was instrumental in advocating for, and piloting different intervention strategies for pre-school aged children and children living in difficult circumstances at family, community, and national levels. The positive result of the programmes inspired UNICEF to recruit her in 1989 as a Child Development Assistant. She later joined the education sector at UNICEF as a Project Officer in 1996. She worked with UNICEF for 20 years at national and international levels, until her retirement in 2009.

As a retiree, Illuminata became actively involved in her church as a church community leader and a counsellor. At the moment, while she continues to work with her church, she refocused her goals to include a broader community for advice, counselling, moral support and family reconciliation.

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