Tanzania: Government Says It Values Early Childhood Education

Tanzania has reiterated its commitment to promoting early childhood education and health given their significance as the foundations of supplementary learning.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam yesterday, Minister for Education, Science and Technology, Prof Joyce Ndalichako, said it was due to the obligation that the government of Tanzania had ratified several international conventions and declarations aimed at promoting and improving childhood education.

"Based on the commitment, the fifth phase government decided to offer free basic education and also directed that all public primary schools across the country should have kindergarten classes," the minister stated.

Prof Ndalichako said this at the 7th Annual Research Institute organised by the Agha Khan University-Institute of Educational Development, East Africa (AKU-IED, EA).

The three-day event, which runs under a theme, "Early Childhood Education, Care and Development in the 21st Century" is attended by education and health stakeholders from within the East African Community (EAC), Denmark and New Zealand, among others.

The minister pointed further that early education should not cover only three basic skills namely reading, writing and arithmetic, but also other aspects such as science, technology and sports.

"We are living in a world of science and technology and thus it is important to include the same right from childhood education and this will nurture creativity to children," she emphasised.

Nevertheless, Prof Ndalichako noted that adopting an appropriate technology and device to instruct children remained a challenge since the same could be destructive to children rather that constructive.

She pointed out, on the other hand, 3,167 trainees had been admitted to 15 teachers training colleges which exclusively trained teachers for early childhood education.

On the same occasion, Associate Vice-Provost at Agha Khan University- Tanzania, Prof Joe Lugalla, explained that the varsity focused on training of teachers for childhood education since it was the foundation of learning.

"Studies have shown that children who attend pre-primary education perform better when they are enrolled in Standard One compared to those who do not receive such education," the don explained.

Prof Lugalla praised the government for introducing kindergarten classes in public primary schools, noting that the move had already started showing positive results.

Dr Shelina Walli, a specialist on early childhood education, said recommendations from the forum would be presented to the government for possible adoption and implementation.

Dr Walli was confident that the meeting would come up with suitable recommendations since it was attended by teachers, students, health practitioners and other stakeholders from EAC and beyond.

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