Early childhood education in Tanzania
Views and beliefs of stakeholders on its status and development
Keywords:early childhood care and education, Tanzania, pre-primary education, ECE stakeholders’ views, status of ECCE in Tanzania
Globally, there is consensus among education stakeholders that early childhood education sets a foundation for children’s development, learning, and future life achievements. While global perceptions of early childhood care and education (ECCE) have been broadly explored in other parts of the world, little is known about ECCE in Tanzania even though it is ideally a compulsory part of formal basic education for every child before joining grade one. This study investigated the status of early childhood education (ECE) in Tanzania by critically analyzing the views and beliefs of stakeholders on its status and development. The study recruited two policy makers, 14 ECE college principals, 34 preprimary college tutors, and three ECE academics using a homogeneous sampling technique. Employing a phenomenological research design, the study used questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions (FGD) and documentary analyses in collecting the required data. Findings revealed that while in the policy and curriculum documents ECE holds equal status with other levels of education, it holds extremely low status among education stakeholders, resulting in ill-prepared preservice ECE teachers and limited parent-school engagement. To improve the quality of ECE in Tanzania, stakeholders suggested improvements in the quality and quantity of preservice teachers, including detachment of preprimary classes from primary schools and establishment of an integrated ECCE policy, guidelines, and practices to be completed by an ECCE joint taskforce. Further, in-service training for ECE college tutors and principals is critically important, as is concentration of limited resources in few selected teachers’ colleges.
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