“Respect is an Investment”: Community Perceptions of Social and Emotional Competencies in Early Childhood from Mtwara, Tanzania

  • Matthew Jukes RTI International
  • Prosper Gabrieli University of Dodoma, Tanzania
  • Nkanileka Loti Mgonda University of Dar es Salaam
  • Florentina Nsolezi University of Dodoma
  • Grace Jeremiah St. Augustine University of Tanzania
  • Jovina Tibenda USAID Tusome Pamoja
  • Kristen L. Bub University of Illinois
Keywords: Education, Assessment, Preschool education, Social and emotional competencies

Abstract

Education programs in Africa increasingly aim to develop and measure social and emotional competencies. However, assessments are typically adapted from those developed in other continents and are not derived from local perspectives. In the current study, we conducted focus groups and individual interviews with teachers, parents and students in 4 randomly selected rural primary schools from Mtwara region in Tanzania, 3 of which had recently begun participation in a pre-primary education program. The aim was to understand the social and emotional competencies in early childhood that participants viewed as important for school and for life in general. Compared to existing frameworks of social and emotional competencies, participants placed more emphasis on aspects of social responsibility, for example respect, obedience and being an attentive listener. Individual competencies such as curiosity, self-direction and self-belief were valued more by teachers than parents and seen as most important for success at school. In general, most social and emotional competencies – even individual competencies - were discussed in terms of social relationships. Findings have implications for how cultural values are taken into account in assessment, curriculum design and parent and community engagement around pre-school education.

Author Biographies

Matthew Jukes, RTI International

Matthew Jukes, PhD, is a Fellow and Senior Education
Evaluation specialist at RTI International.
Matthew’s current research addresses culturally relevant
approaches to assessment of social and emotional
competencies; improving pedagogy through an
understanding of the cultural basis of teacher-child
interactions; and frameworks to improve evidence-based
decision-making.
Matthew holds a PhD in early childhood
development from Oxford University. Previous positions
include Associate Professor at the Harvard Graduate School
of Education and Senior Director of Research, Monitoring
and Evaluation at Room to Read.

Prosper Gabrieli, University of Dodoma, Tanzania

Prosper Gabrieli, PhD, is a lecturer at the College of
Education in the University of Dodoma, Tanzania. Prosper
holds a PhD in education from Dodoma University. Previous
positions include Assistant Coordinator in the Language
Supportive Pedagogy Project and a researcher in the
Enscience project in Tanzania. Prosper has teaching
experience in secondary schools and interested in science
education, teacher education and classroom research.

Nkanileka Loti Mgonda, University of Dar es Salaam

Nkanileka Loti Mgonda, PhD is a Lecturer in the School
of Education, University of Dar es Salaam. He teaches and
supervises postgraduate research. His areas of research and
teaching include: teacher professionalism and ethics, life
skills and character education and foundations of education.
Nkanileka holds a PhD in teacher education from
Leipzig University Germany. Currently, Nkanileka is an
Associate Editor of the Journal “Papers in Education and
Development.”

Florentina Nsolezi, University of Dodoma

Florentina Nsolezi, MA, is an assistant lecturer in the
Department of Psychology, School of Education and PhD
candidate at the University of Dodoma, Tanzania. She holds
a BA in Educational Psychology and MA in Education from
the University of Dar Es Salaam. Her research interests are
in educational psychology and child development.
Grace Jeremiah, MA, is an independent research
consultant. She holds a Master degree in economics from
University of Nairobi. Previous positions include lecturer at
St. Augustine University of Tanzania in the Economics
Department. She has also worked with TGNP (Tanzania
Gender Network Program) Mtandao as coordinator of
participatory action research in Morogoro, Tanzania. She is
also part of the TAMASHA (Taasisi ya maendeleo shirikishi
kwa vijana Arusha) team.

Grace Jeremiah, St. Augustine University of Tanzania

Grace Jeremiah, MA, is an independent research consultant. She holds a Master degree in economics from University of Nairobi. Previous positions include lecturer at St. Augustine University of Tanzania in the Economics Department. She has also worked with TGNP (Tanzania Gender Network Program) Mtandao as coordinator of participatory action research in Morogoro, Tanzania. She is also part of the TAMASHA (Taasisi ya maendeleo shirikishi kwa vijana Arusha) team.

Jovina Tibenda, USAID Tusome Pamoja

Jovina Tibenda, M.Ed., is a Senior Program Specialist in
Research at the RTI International-Tusome Pamoja Program
in Tanzania. Currently Jovina oversees operational research
designed to understand what works well and what are the
barriers to implementation with the aim of improving
program effectiveness.
Jovina holds a Masters of Educational
Administration from Ohio University. Previous positions
include Director of Monitoring Evaluation and Research
USAID funded program- TMARC Tanzania Marketing and
Communication

Kristen L. Bub, University of Illinois

Kristen Bub, EdD, is Associate Professor of Educational
Psychology and Developmental Sciences Division Chair at
the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, College of
Education. Her research interests are in quantitative
methods and developmental antecedents of social,
emotional, academic, and physical health outcomes across
early and middle childhood. She has a doctorate in Human
Development and Psychology from Harvard University.

Published
2018-06-27