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