Thank you to all ACEI members who presented at, and attended, the
Annual International Conference in Phoenix. It was a wonderful few days
of learning, as well as a time to visit with colleagues and friends. One
of the great pleasures of the conference was being able to hear from
Fortidas Bakuza. Mr. Bakuza is currently the National Coordinator of the
Early Childhood Development Network for Tanzania. Considering
ACEI's efforts to support the building of a school in Tanzania,
this presentation was timely. Indeed, by all accounts, Tanzania has a
sincere commitment to addressing the needs of children; however, as we
know, all efforts that occur on a mass scale take time and patience to
implement. Change for children requires dedicated individuals who work
tirelessly to ensure that their nation does not falter in its
commitments. Fortidas Bakuza is such a dedicated individual, and a true
advocate for children; for this, we thank him. Please enjoy the
following excerpt from Mr. Bakuza's conference address. You can
access the entire presentation on ACEI's website at www.acei.org.
--Diane P. Whitehead, Executive Director
I want to start my presentation by expressing my thanks on behalf
of the Tanzania Early Childhood Development Network (TECDEN) for the
invitation to participate in the Association for Childhood Education
International (ACEI) Annual Conference of 2010. I enjoyed being part of
the ACEI community and I learned a lot from the presenters and from
different interactions with fellow conference attendees. TECDEN values
networking and so when I received the invitation to attend this
conference, we could not resist. We are always interested in building
new relationships with those, like ACEI members, who work throughout the
world to improve the lives of infants and young children and their
Early childhood development policies and plans require wider
consultations with different stakeholders to guarantee that children,
families, and community voices are included and to ensure a common
understanding and ownership. In this way, we guarantee sustainability.
Experience shows that the needs of infants and young children are
subjected to many service providers, are addressed in sector-specific
ways, and pose many challenges of coordination.
While families have the primary responsibility for raising
children, governments do have to ensure that systems are in place to
support families and thus help ensure that children grow into responsive
and productive adults. The state cannot provide every needed service to
all people, however. Therefore, other parties, such as civil society
organizations and nongovernmental agencies, become vital in
complementing the government initiatives. The Tanzania Early Childhood
Development Network (TECDEN) was formed to help make the early childhood
development agenda a priority in Tanzania.
TECDEN is a grouping of organizations working in partnership to
influence policies and practice related to early childhood development
(ECD) by sharing information and knowledge gained through experience,
and thus generating further understanding of ECD.
TECDEN's mission is to ensure that all TECDEN members work
collaboratively to promote multi-sectoral approaches that
* Engender the holistic development of infants and young children
* Bring forth the voices of young children regarding issues
TECDEN seeks to create an environment for strengthening the
capacity of members to strategically engage in key policy and program
development at all levels, and thereby enhance the support for holistic
development of all infants and young children.
* We respect the uniqueness and rights of every individual child
* The child's well-being and interests are at the center of
all we do
* We uphold the legal right of young children to be protected from
all forms of abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
Our Main Operational Areas
* To engage in policy dialogue at all levels in order to influence
best practices, policies, programs, and legislations regarding ECD
* To facilitate the coordination and promotion of TECDEN's
activities as performed by members, locally and globally
* To facilitate two-way communication, networking, and information
sharing among members and other interested parties, both locally and
* To enhance the ability of network members to be proactive and
take a leading role in implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of ECD
activities/issues at different levels.
TECDEN works through chapters in government administrative regions.
TECDEN has members in 14 chapters in both the mainland and Zanzibar. We
are committed to reaching out to all 26 regions and communities of
The Status of Young Children in Tanzania
The survival and development of young children are priorities for
parents, communities, local governments, and the central government, as
well as for other key stakeholders and civil society organizations.
However, there are some challenges to address. In Tanzania, such
1. Poverty, both rural and urban. Population growth and changing
lifestyles have had a significant impact on families' efforts to
raise their children. For example, Tanzania had a population of less
than 10 million when it gained its independence in 1961, but now the
population is estimated at 40 million. Unfortunately, these changes have
not been met with enhanced support systems. Today, more children are not
going to school because parents cannot afford to pay for school uniforms
and other school contributions. While the government has made primary
education free in Tanzania, parents do have to contribute in a practical
2. Limited access to social services, such as schools, hospitals,
health care centers, and birth registration. Schools remain distant from
where most children live, which affects their attendance and contributes
to drop-out and truancy rates. In some places, primary schools are as
far away as 5 to 6 kilometers, particularly in rural areas. Pre-primary
classes are attached to these primary schools. Parents are reluctant to
send their young children such a distance on their own.
3. Fees associated with services, particularly in child care
centers, preschools, and hospitals. The majority of good services are
private; therefore, children from poor families do not benefit from
these services. According to the Ministry of Education and vocational
training records, the enrollment rate in preschools was at 38% in 2008.
That percentage only covers public pre-primary schools.
4. Some traditional child-rearing practices that are not child
centered. Some continuing practices interfere with the good upbringing
of young children.
5. Exclusiveness of services to children with special needs.
Children with special needs, particularly those with disabilities, are
at a significant disadvantage and often remain out of reach of needed
6. Parallel programming and planning by government ministries and
departments. Each ministry is independent, resulting in limited
coordination and duplication of resources and efforts. The Ministry of
Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) is responsible for children from 0-4,
with 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds expected to be in child care centers.
The Department of Social Welfare is responsible for registration of all
child care centers, and therefore is responsible for setting regulations
that govern child care service provision throughout the country.
Preschool education for children between 5 and 6 years old is
compulsory, and is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and
Vocational Training (MOEVT). However, there are no smooth links between
what the children learn in child care centers and what they will learn
when they enter preschool. The same disconnect applies for children
entering grade I in primary school.
7. Urban and rural diversity. While more than 80% of the population
in Tanzania lives in rural areas, more services can be found in urban
areas compared to rural areas. Tanzania has a population of almost 40
million and 51% are children under 18 years old. Twenty-one percent of
all children are estimated to be under 8 years old. Because of poor
services in rural areas, many families have moved to urban areas in
recent years, which is affecting their family status. The children are
the most affected.
8. An increasing threat of HIV/AIDS, which continues to claim the
lives of young and productive parents and leave behind orphans. The
number of orphans is growing beyond what the extended families can
afford to care for. Other diseases, including malaria and respiratory
infectious diseases, continue to affect most families, particularly
young children under 5 and pregnant women.
9. Limited allocation of the overall government budget to children
Read the full speech on www.acei.org