Early Childhood Development (ECD) lays a foundation for acquiring literacy and numeracy skills. So, ensuring children arrive at school ready to succeed is critical. ECD is universally recognized as being beneficial to the subsequent performance of children in basic education programs.
Despite its importance to the development of children, the Early Childhood Development sector faces a lot of challenges. These include lack of Day-care and Pre-primary teachers in the Education sector (Mghasse and William, 2016; Mligo 2018). Children in rural areas have a lower attendance and completion rate than urban children. Availability of day-care centers in rural areas is also a challenge.
Along with its other two principal programs: Elimu Haina Mwisho- Skills Development Program for Young Women, and the Mpira Fursa-Tanzania Women Football program, which are implemented in partnership with 41 FDCs, KTO implements the Expanded Access to Early Childhood Development (ECD) program in partnership with 10 FDCs, MoHCDGEC, MoEST and Kisangara Institute of Social Works. The plan is to scale the program to 20 FDCs.
When the government of Tanzania introduced the fee free education system for public primary school in Tanzania, the enrollment increased with the net enrollment ration increasing from 33.4 per cent in 2014 to 46.7 percent in 2016. However, majority of five-year old still lack access to education. The low numbers of qualified early childhood development educators (ECD) who are key to the expansion of quality of ECD education in the country, is a key contributory factor to this problem.
In 2016 only 4,029 public school teachers had a Pre-Primary certificate, leading to schools opting to use teachers not specifically trained in early childhood development (ECD) (EDUCATION SECTOR DEVELOPMENT PLAN (2016/17 – 2020/21)). The current student teacher ratio is 136 to 1, hence growing demand for qualified ECD teachers. Also, as more women enter the labor market the demand for paid day-care is emerging. Lack of trained ECD workers is a bottleneck to meet this demand for quality day care and trained people in quality ECD programming.
MoEST identified FDC as possible conduits for helping to fill in the gap for non-formal education and support for ECD education teacher training, and approached KTO to support the deployment of this training into the Folk Development College system.
The Expanding Access to Early Childhood Development (ECD) training Program intends to expand access to ECD training through Folk Development Colleges (FDCs). It focuses on increasing access to quality ECD education in rural areas, and contributes to an increase in school readiness for rural children in Tanzania.
Training for ECD requires a holistic, child-centered, multidimensional approach. The curriculum for the FDC ECD teacher training courses is based on the current early childhood development teachers training curriculum and child-centered active learning methodology.
The program focuses on providing the ECD courses through FDCs, development and upgrading of day-care facilities and coordination of day care activities at FDCs, which will be the main spot for the participant’s internship.
By increasing the number and quality of ECD instructors through rural FDCs, more children will receive quality ECD interventions, be more ready for school and have increased social and emotional skills. At the community level, day-care centers will have access to trained ECD professionals who can bring best practices and knowledge into these environments thereby raising the standard of instruction in disadvantaged areas. With regard to student selection for the ECD training program, the FDCs have a commitment to help students from poorer background to continue their education.
FDCs are engaged with their communities and develop work placements for each of their students. This ideally will both create opportunities for students to find work locally as well as build communities of actors/organizations working in the space.