Childcare provisions in Tanzania

Introduction

There is vast research to be done about the status of early childhood provisions in Tanzania and the little information that is available to date has failed to provide a full picture of the progress so far made in this area in this third world country. Mtahabwa (2009) points out that concerns of child development in Tanzania can be traced back to 1961 when the country gained independence, however, the government's commitment to children's needs is relatively new. Since major government initiatives in the 1990s child care has gradually been receiving attention from the government, private sector, religious organisations, donor agencies and communities.

Two separate policies now provide for young children's well-being in Tanzania. The Pre Primary Educational Policy (MOEC, 1995) shows how the Government of Tanzania has taken some positive steps to improve young children's access to preschool services. One of these steps has been to declare pre-primary education for the five to six year olds as formal under the Government's custody. However, preschool education for children under six has been left to stakeholders other than the Government suggesting that this maybe isn't one of their highest priorities (Mtahabwa, 2009). The Child Development Policy (MCDWCA, 1996) states that children are significant in society and Tanzania has recognised this by implementing plans and taking positive steps to promoting child development. Furthermore, the Government has created a special Ministry to coordinate child development programmes. The timing of these policies suggest that they are credited more to global forces than internal demands and this is evident in the development of childcare in the country (Mtahabwa, 2009).

History of Early Child Development and Care in Tanzania

Colonial period

Before independence in 1961, both demand and access to basic education in Tanzania was limited. Cameron & Dodd (1970) state that in 1947 fewer than 10 per cent of the school age population were enrolled in primary school. At the same time no females had ever progressed beyond primary level. Furthermore, education was unequally distributed by gender, region and race. Christians were of high priority to be educated as many primary schools had been established by Christian missionaries (Al-Samarris & Peasgood, 1998). These children were taught the 3Rs and Biblical truth in what were known as 'Busch Schools' (Mbise, 1996). Other children, along the coast, were taught in 'Madrasa Schools' which were established by Arabs. These schools concentrated on the teaching of the Quoran and reading and writing the Arabic script. No written policy is reported to have existed in this era and therefore little is known of the pedagogy, curriculum and other types of services that were available (Mtahabwa, 2009).

King (1983) points out that in Tanzania there have been many waves of educational transfer in the last several decades. During the colonial period there was the assumption that Africa and Europe had different futures, as colonisers and colonised. This reflected the educational transfer at the time and subsequently the school systems reflected this larger political reality. As a consequence the education provided intended to be suitable or appropriate to colonial children. On the other hand, it is seen that the British rule in Tanzania in this era had a positive influence on education as it led to the opening of schools and gave the residents greater access to primary education. Samoff (1979) states that European missionary primary schools in this era had more pupils than there were to be in the Government's primary schools in 1969. However, Brock-Utne & Holmarsdottir (2004) proposes as colonially defined states such as Tanzania were multilingual and policies of imperialist powers were implemented the languages of Europe became the languages of power during this era. Furthermore, there were no attempts to use African languages in domains such as education as there were very few expectations (Alexander, 2000). Although some form of Kiswahili was being spoken on the coast of East Africa before the 10th century, it was not until the 19th century that Kiswahili was used in the centre (Whitely, 1969).In 1962 it was said that Kiswahili and English should be the official languages of Tanzania, however since that was said there have been 13 changes in the constitution. The issue of language has now disappeared and it is not any longer mentioned in the constitution of Tanzania. However, Kiswahili, the most popular of all the vernacular language in Tanzania, has evolved as the national and official language through a long history (Brock-Utne & Holmarsdottir, 2004).

The period from independence to 1981

With the approach of independence, the pace of educational transfer quickened. The 1960s saw the education values of the South affecting institutions and aspirations of the North and there was also a development of large numbers of teachers from overseas that was made possible by aid money. At this time schools were established which were highly selective of the pupils that they enrolled. These included boarding grammar schools with staff quarters, after school activities and large school compounds. However, although these highly selective schools may have improved the quality of education for some privileged children, it is apparent that they did not improve access to education for all children and so the quantity of schools had yet to be addressed. Ironically, comprehensive schooling was increasing in the United Kingdom at the same time that this form of schooling was being reinforced in Tanzania. Furthermore, in this decade English was being used as the medium of instruction, with important consequences for primary education. However, in this era there were other outside influences other than British ones. King (1983) states that, 'Unlike the colonial period where the source of educational inspiration and transfer was fundamentally British, the 1960s saw funds also coming to East Africa from Scandinavia, Germany, Canada and USA as well as from the multilateral agencies, such as, ILO, UNESCO, UNDP and the World Bank. Therefore, it can be seen that the educational transfers have not been uncomplicated and show the competing influences of different agencies and countries, without considering adaptation by Tanzania itself (King, 1983).

There was an upward trend for childcare provisions in Tanzania between 1960 and 1983 as a result of a strong government commitment to developing human resources and social indicators, including educational attainment. Whilst the secondary system was being strengthened an effort was made to minimise expenditure at this level in order to concentrate resources on the development of primary schools (Samarrais & Peasgood, 1998). Tanzania adopted an open door policy where various stakeholders had the responsibility to establish early childhood programmes (Mbise, 1996). This was a positive step as it encouraged communities, voluntary organisations and the private sector to help to make progress in this area. Interest particularly in donor agencies switched to educational institutions that seemed more geared to the mass of poorer rural and urban people (King, 1983). Furthermore, a primary curriculum was introduced following the Arusha Declaration in 1967 with a new policy of Education for Self-Reliance encouraging each school to continue to its own upkeep through income raising activities (Samarrais & Peasgood, 1998). However, inviting various stakeholders to be involved in the development and the attitude of 'self help' meant that there was the lack of specific custodian in this era and so the management of child development and care fluctuated between several ministries without clear coordination and strategies for quality services (Mbise, 2001).

The 1970s witnessed Western disappointment with much that had been transferred within the structures of formal education (King, 1983). However, progress soon followed when efforts were made to improve and expand primary schooling as to achieve Universal Primary Education by 1989. To support this came the abolishment of school fees at primary level in 1973, however, the Musoma Resolution of 1974 brought the target date for Universal Primary Education forward to 1977 as delaying universal provision of basic education was politically inconsistent for a socialist government. In turn primary enrolment and attendance between the ages of 7 and 13 was made compulsory by the 1978 Education Act and breaking this Act led to some parents being held responsible and punished with fines of imprisonment. The number of children attending primary school increased almost immediately after the Musoma Resolution, with enrolments increasing during the 1970s and continuing to rise until 1983 (Samarrais & Peasgood, 1998).

The 1979 International Year of the Child changed of how children are seen and treated in Tanzania and significantly developed child care provisions. The first president, the late Julius K. Nyerere, emphasised the importance of children and brought special attention to their well-being in his speech to welcome the year (Chama Cha Mapinduzi, 1978). He stressed good education, health, nutrition, water, clean environments and care showing that he understood that children need special attention as they are central to national development. However, although this was promising and encouraging practice virtually remained unaltered for a long period of time.

The period from 1982 to 1994

King (1983) suggested that the 1980s wouldn't see much educational transfer, either in the curriculum, school organisation, teaching or institution, as the decade saw a lack of resources from abroad and an economic recession at home. However, he did predict much adaptation in areas that had already been transformed.

Many positive steps were taken in this period one of which was the Makweta Presidential Commission on Education (URT, 1982) as this was to evaluate the entire education system and make recommendations towards the year 2000. Mtahabwa (2009) states that, 'This was the first time in the history of education in Tanzania that it was stated that preschool education had to be treated seriously.' Before this the aims and objectives of preschool education were vague as there were no policies to support the practice that was taking place. The commission recommended that the Ministry of Work and Community Development and the Ministry of Health provide for the development and educational needs of the preschool children aged from zero to three years. Furthermore, it recommended that Ministry of Education were entrusted children aged three to primary age and trained and prepared preschool teachers to cater for teaching demands and meet the needs of children in the preschools (URT, 1982). However, although the recommendations from the commission were positive and reasonable no nationally recognised teacher preparation institutions were established in response to this.

Tanzania also ratified the UNCRC (1989) and the World Declaration on Education for all (1990) in this period. This resulted in Tanzania's government forming the National Task Force in 1990 to review the Education system and propose a new one suitable for the children of the twenty-first century (MOEC, 1995). Optimistically, a syllabus for the preschool years was developed (Wizara ya Elimu, 1990).

The rapid expansion at primary level during the 1970s combined with declining national economic performance national economic performance and government finances had a negative impact on education quality. As a result many parents began to question the benefits of schooling, complain of illiterate primary graduates and enrolment rates declined and drop-out rates increased. Samarias & Peasgood (1998)

State that enrolment declined from a peak of 96 per cent in 1983 to an estimated 73.5 per cent in 1990.

The TADREG rural household survey (1992) found there was still negative feelings regarding education and there was substantial uncertainty regarding education policy. Furthermore, it reported that teacher's wages were considerably below the level necessary to ensure their adequate motivation (Cooksay et al., 1991). Parental attitudes were found to be extremely negative as they felt that the cost of their children's education did not bring adequate benefits. They felt that their children were not receiving adequate skills in literacy and numeracy and lacked necessary knowledge. Furthermore, parents viewed activities, such as farming, in school as exploitive because they did not benefit the children or school as intended. In general the quality of primary education was considered poor (TADREG, 1993). There is vast research to support this widespread dissatisfaction (Omari & Mosha, 1987; Sumra, 1993) and there is also studies to suggest that there were still inequalities in this era between boys' and girls' performance and access to post primary opportunities (Mbilinyi et al., 1991).

As economic changes persisted the education sector began to seek a broader resource base, encouraging private financial aid and. By the mid 1990s the cost of education was rising and in turn there were fewer enrolments and higher drop-outs. Rising costs to families have raised fears that enrolment may decline further (Peasgood et al., 1997) even though the government aim to tackle these problems (Primary Education Master Plan, United Repulic Of Tanzania, 1995).

Samarrais & Peasgood (1983) all these significant and influential changes in the supply of education in Tanzania since 1960, along with radical changes in government policy, economic fortunes and public perceptions of the value of education and the importance of children, are likely to be reflected in educational delivery and attainment of different coherts today. Furthermore, they point out that economic difficulties have resulted in a reversal of the upward trend between 1960 and 1983 and Tanzania is now placed poorly in relation to other Sub-Saharan African countries.

The period from 1995 to date

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