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Dubai Cares officially launches two new Early Childhood Development (ECD) programmes in Tanzania

Programme in mainland Tanzania seeks to address the shortage and quality of early childhood education resources; programme in Zanzibar seeks to increase access to quality education for pre-primary school children

Dubai Cares, part of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives has announced two new education programs in Tanzania. A Dubai Cares delegation, led by Chief Executive Officer Tariq Al Gurg and consisting of UAE-based media and Dubai Cares employees, visited the country to officially launch the Early Childhood Development (ECD) programmes in mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar and conduct schools visits to witness the success of the programmes’ implementation on the ground so far. Both programmes aim to reach 54,400 beneficiaries in 4 years with a total investment of AED 26,670,430 (USD 7,260,223)

The programme in mainland Tanzania named “Fursa kwa Watoto”, which is Kiswahili for “Opportunities for children”, seeks to improve access to and quality of pre-primary education by building evidence of cost-effective models that can be scaled up. The multi-agency program sees Dubai Cares partner with the Ministry of Education, Science Technology and Vocational Training, Children in Crossfire, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Aga Khan University, and Mathematica Policy Research.Through this joint effort, the “Fursa kwa Watoto” programme will support more than 29,400 direct beneficiaries, though the impact is expected to be much greater – estimated at 1.62 million indirect beneficiaries – as the experience and data will guide plans for the expansion of quality pre-primary education nationwide.

During a press conference in Dar es Salaam, Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares said: “It gives my team and I great pleasure to witness the success of our pre-primary education programmes in East Africa. In recent years, the Government of Tanzania has achieved great progress in facilitating access to early education programmes for children. Building on such progress, we must turn our attention to the quality of these provisions and tackle challenges such as shortage of qualified pre-primary teachers and adequate materials.”

The mission of the “Fursa kwa Watoto” programme is to improve school readiness and learning outcomes of pre-primary school age children, particularly those from rural or marginalized communities. Through the programme, Dubai Cares is working to increase the institutional capacity for early childhood development programmes by developing cost-effective strategies that are achievable and can be supported through existing school, district and national systems to enable them to be scaled up nation-wide. Dubai Cares is also monitoring the success of the programme and will use the evidence of the benefits of early childhood development interventions to directly inform programme and policy makers in Tanzania, and the rest of Africa.

Programme activities in mainland Tanzania include designing and testing pre-primary school education enhancement packages, aimed at improving the quality and engagement of schooling for children. This is delivered by organizing pre-primary classes which are attached to existing primary schools. For those children living in rural areas, satellite early childhood education classes will be developed and tested to incorporate hard-to-reach communities. Ongoing assessment will also be taking place to measure the success of these enhancement packages on the learning outcomes of children as they enter primary school, and once again at the end of Standard 2.

Craig Ferla, Director of Children in Crossfire, said: “The ‘Fursa kwa Watoto’ programme is the most exciting initiative of its type in pre-primary education in Tanzania. As well as improving access to and quality of pre-primary for 29,400 children, it is also building evidence of models that improve learning outcomes for children and are scalable for government and development partners to invest in. This programme will help realize Tanzania Education and Training Policy’s vision of a citizenry that is educated, knowledgeable, skilled and proficient to contribute to national development.”

The need for early education resources in mainland Tanzania is great, with many children between the ages of 5 and 6 years not attending pre-primary school; especially in rural areas due to the shortage of appropriate educational facilities. As a result, the majority of children are ill-equipped for primary schooling and do not have the necessary foundation for effective learning.

Similarly in Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, limited public investment remains a constraint in pre-primary provision and quality with only small portions of children attending government schools. Additionally, Zanzibar lacks specialized pre-primary training courses at Teacher Training Centers and the current student/teacher ratios are as high as 1:115. The majority of children entering primary schools do not have the basics of education and are poorly prepared for the school environment.

During a press conference in Zanzibar, Al Gurg said: “Socio-economic conditions have prevented many children from getting the right start to their education, especially in rural areas where there are low numbers of qualified pre-school teachers. However, I am confident that with the hard work and support of the Ministry of Education & Vocational Training – Zanzibar and our implementing partners, more children than ever can look forward to an enriched learning experience”.

To address this issue, Dubai Cares, in partnership the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training – Zanzibar, the Madrasa Early Childhood Programme – Zanzibar, and the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF); is working towards increasing access to quality primary education for 4 and 5-year-old children.

While acknowledging the support from Dubai Cares, Abid Mallick, Country Director of Aga Khan Foundation in Tanzania, attributed the success of the program to the strong partnership and commitment of all stakeholders involved. “AKF has over three decade experience in supporting holistic early childhood development globally and we would like to assure Dubai Cares and the Ministry of Education in Zanzibar that the project is well poised to meeting its objectives of improving access to and quality of pre-primary education and to laying the ground for scaling it up across Zanzibar through a more holistic approach,” said Abid Mallick.

The programme benefits 25,000 children through contextually relevant, cost effective and replicable pre-school approaches. It includes 3 major components: professional development of teachers; creating conducive and constructive teaching and learning environments; and strengthening school, community and government support systems. The intervention targets 100 schools, and includes the training of 900 government and community pre-school teachers.

Speaking about Dubai Cares’ significant contribution towards the education sector in Tanzania, H.E Abdullah Ibrahim Ghanem Sultan Al-Suwaidi, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates in Tanzania said, “Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the United Arab Emirates, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the government of the United Arab Emirates is keen on spreading education and knowledge, particularly in remote areas, through the launch of initiatives that contribute to establishing a solid foundation of active and engaged youth across communities around the world. Recognition goes to Dubai Cares and their partners for their ongoing initiatives as part of this programme. We wish Dubai Cares all the luck with their efforts towards ensuring universal education and gender equality around the world. Dubai Cares is reaching more than 14 million beneficiaries in 14 developing countries, and continues to progress”.

Dubai Cares’ early childhood education programmes in mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar follow successful education programmes previously launched in 41 developing countries around the world.

- Dubai Cares Media