As the new school year begins, thousands of children in Tanzania are starting their formal education. With a mixture of excitement and apprehension they arrive with a wide range of informal skills and knowledge learned from parents and siblings. In Tanzania the first year of school is known as ‘Pre-primary’ and the challenge facing teachers is to get to know the children and to nurture them towards their potential greatness. Children in Crossfire work with teachers in hundreds of schools in Tanzania to help develop their skills in understanding how young children learn so that they can help children start their journey in life.
A big challenge in Tanzania is that pre-primary education is not prioritised or properly resourced. Pre-Primary teachers are paid less than other teachers, they are not offered as much training as other teachers and severely lack teaching and learning materials to deliver quality learning experience.
Children in Crossfire’s Fursa kwa Watoto (FkW) Programme (Swahili for ‘Opportunities for Children’) builds on global evidence of the most effective learning approaches for young children and applies them to the Tanzanian context. This includes new approaches to teaching, new layouts of the classrooms – away with desks in rows and in come ‘learning corners’ – the use of learning materials made from locally available resources such as bottle tops, bamboo and sticks and using local games to develop counting and social skills. With the use of these approaches our teachers create classes where the children are safe and free to try to discover their unlimited potential.
The FkW programme aims to demonstrate that a little investment in skills and resources for pre-primary education in Tanzania can deliver big results as children progress through formal education. It brings together teachers, head teachers, school management committees and parents to create synergy for supportive learning environments both at home and school.
The FkW approach promotes learning through play as this is how young children develop the skills they need as they move into more structured learning in Primary classes. As the children master games, songs and grasp the power of their imagination through drawing, writing or reading good books they have positive experiences and discover the joys of learning something new through play. As they play they ask a lot of questions, the FkW pre-primary teacher helps them discover the answers and in the process the children develop greater strength and confidence to do much more.
Since the programme started in 2014 we have worked in 180 schools in 2 regions of Tanzania. It has trained more than 200 teachers and improved the quality of pre-primary education for over 15,000 children. There is a great relationship with the Tanzanian Ministry of Education, our local partners and Aga Khan University that is building a strong and credible evidence base to inform national government decision making. When the programme formally ends in 2017 it will have reached 27,000 children and given them a boost at the start of their journey into education and life. Beyond that we hope that the Tanzanian government will adopt key lessons and evidence from the FkW approach into teacher training and ultimately contribute to the delivery of quality pre-primary experience across all 16,000 primary schools in Tanzania.
If you would like to learn more about our ongoing work in Tanzania, CLICK HERE.