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The status of early childhood development in Tanzania and beyond.
Article Type:
Conference notes
Subject:
Early childhood education (Methods)
Early childhood education (Conferences, meetings and seminars)
Early childhood education (Social aspects)
Author:
Whitehead, Diane P.
Pub Date:
01/01/2010
Publication:
Name: Childhood Education Publisher: Association for Childhood Education International Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Education; Family and marriage Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 Association for Childhood Education International ISSN: 0009-4056
Issue:
Date: Annual, 2010 Source Volume: 86 Source Issue: 5
Topic:
Event Code: 290 Public affairs
Geographic:
Geographic Scope: Tanzania Geographic Name: Tanzania Geographic Code: 6TANZ Tanzania

Accession Number:
229717490
Full Text:
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 families.

Introduction

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

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 and

* Bring forth the voices of young children regarding issues affecting them.

TECDEN's Goal

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.

TECDEN's Values

* 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 issues

* 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 globally

* 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 Coverage

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 Tanzania.

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 challenges include:

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 sense.

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 services.

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 issues.

Read the full speech on www.acei.org
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