Human Capital Summit: Investing in the Early Years for Growth and Productivity


Investing in the early years is one of the smartest investments a country can make to break the cycle of poverty, address inequality, and boost productivity later in life. Today, millions of young children are not reaching their full potential because of inadequate nutrition, lack of early stimulation and learning, and exposure to stress. Investments in the physical, mental, and emotional development of children — from before birth until they enter primary school – are critical for the future productivity of individuals and for the economic competitiveness of nations. Country leaders need to  make commitments to reduce chronic malnutrition in children and expand access to early childhood development services by 2020 to ensure that children everywhere can thrive.

Even this is too late -something can happen now, as a 5 year old child  is only 5 once, so 2020 is still too late.

It took just 5 months to establish a 12 week school readiness programme in 7 regions in Tanzania – developing a curriculum, writing and illustrating 12 story books, training 1000 volunteer Community Teaching Assistants, engaging communities and preparing more than 50,000 children to start primary school, where they could not access previously. In January 2016 a sample of children were assessed and achieved equally or more than children who had one year of pre-primary school and very much higher than those who had no access to pre-primary classes. They are now progressing well.

So why wait? We can make a start now!

SDGs – could be a few decades late!


Education needs to fundamentally change if we are to reach our global development goals

The new Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report by UNESCO, released on 6 September, shows the vast potential for education to propel progress towards all global goals outlined in the new Sustainable Development Agenda (SDGs). But, if education is to fulfill that potential and meet the current challenges facing the planet, a seismic shift is needed in policy, purpose and practice.

There are a few vital changes necessary for education to deliver on our expectations. Firstly, there is an urgent need for progress in education to speed up. If current trends continue, the world will achieve universal primary education in 2042, universal lower secondary education in 2059 and universal upper secondary education in 2084. This means the world would be half a century late for the 2030 SDG deadline of universal primary and secondary education.

Read more of this post and access the full GEM Report


What is more shameful is that answers to reach that ‘seismic’ shift have been known about for decades, but political will and commitment , particularly in educating those living in poverty and rural areas, has been woefully lacking.

Arms production and sales, in many countries,  still exhibit such a force that undermine any prioritising in terms of education and health of the nation.

When will they ever learn?

The need for accelerated learning -new resources

Having witnessed the number of out of school children in rural communities in Tanzania, I have come to the understanding about the desperate need for accelerated learning. We have a number of tools, including mobile, that could and should be utilised to support learning at a distance, to ensure that those children and young people who happen to live too far away from a school , or live where barriers to easy walking (such as rivers, wild animals etc) can continue learning . Education needs to move towards children, not the reverse, as it it seems these learners are punished for their location for living. As children tend to suffer a lot of wasted time in school -it should not be difficult to accelerate learning in an efficient and cost effective way.

Pocket Guide on Accelerated Education Programmes
Inter-agency Accelerated Education Working Group (AEWG)Globally, over 121 million children and adolescents are out of school, having never started or dropped out after enrolment. The most vulnerable and marginalised – often displaced children and young people, ex-combatants, girls and children with disabilities – are more likely to find it difficult to get an education. 51% of refugees are under 18, and only half of refugee children are in primary school.

For children and young people who have missed out on education or had their education interrupted by conflict and crisis, poverty and marginalisation, accelerated education programmes (AEPs) are a way to realise this commitment. AEPs offer equivalent certified competencies to primary education, enabling a return to formal education at appropriate grades, or transition into work or other training.

This guide is for those who finance, plan, design, manage and evaluate AEPs, including NGOs, community-based organisations (CBOs), government education authorities, and other education actors. The guide should be useful to programme managers, education advisers, policy makers, and anyone seeking to improve inclusive, quality education in contexts affected by crisis and conflict.

Click to read and download this resource. 

Webcast on Accelerated Education
USAID ECCNWebcastUSAID ECCN, in partnership with the Inter-Agency Accelerated Education Working Group (AEWG), hosted a webcast on June 9 featuring a first preview of the AEWG’s Accelerated Education pocket guide, featuring 10 key principles of Accelerated Education. Presenters covered the development, importance and potential application of the Accelerated Education pocket guide and an overview of the 10 principles to guide development and implementation of Accelerated Education programming.If you missed the webcast you can view the recording, access resources and participate in an ongoing discussion on the USAID ECCN website.

Story telling – a key to activity based learning

In our School Readiness Programme story telling is a key dimension in activity based learning within a competence based pre-primary curriculum.

With the Tanzania Institute of Education 12 stories were written, guided by the competences defined in the curriculum.

This is the guidance given to national facilitators:

Using stories and story telling in the School Readiness Programme.

“Storytelling is many things to many people,” Mr. Faq replied, “It is entertainment, a way of passing on a culture’s history, or a way of teaching to both the young and the old. It is something that must be experienced and tried before you can fully understand it, as its live intimacy has a unique power and magic which creates community. More than anything else, storytelling is an art. An art that anyone can participate in. We all are storytellers, whether we realize it or not.”

 What is storytelling?

Storytelling is one of our oldest art forms. It stimulates the imagination and builds a sense of community between tellers and listeners.

Stories are everywhere – in newspapers, books, on TV and the Internet. Every day conversation is full of anecdotes and real life stories. Storytelling helps us understand our environment and personal experience. 

Many older stories are originally traditional folktales. They represent the richness of oral patterns of telling and are the product of a community experience, as well as the art of individual storytellers. Historical stories, legends and contemporary stories can also be the subject of the storyteller’s tale, and they too embody a strong element of community or collective experience.

The emphasis of traditional storytelling is as much on the telling as the story itself. Stories are recreated by the teller at each telling and passed on through generations.

Why are stories used in education?

Research tells us that:

young children who are read to and told stories from a very young age have considerable advantages later on at school, not only in the development of literacy skills, but also in the development of social skills, such as being able to relate to others. Conversely, children who are not exposed to stories at an early age tend to do less well later, both in terms of literacy and in terms of integrating with others at school.

Stories exercise the imagination and are a useful tool in linking fantasy and the

imagination with the child’s real world.

  • Listening to stories in class is a shared social experience.
  • Children enjoy listening to stories over and over gain. This repetition allows

language items to be acquired and reinforced.

  • Listening to stories develops the child’s listening and concentration skills.
  • Stories create opportunities for developing continuity in children’s learning.


(Adapted from Ellis and Brewster 1991:1-2)

The story itself is the vehicle for developing skills and children can also make associations between language and context. The words in the story are supported by the pictures which provide the visual context to help children’s understanding of language.

Children can store new knowledge more easily and retrieve it when they find themselves in a similar context.

The different activities for each story may also act as a guide for the organization of individual/pair/small group work. Thus the story also structures learning opportunities.

Story telling:

“The story teller has to become the character of the story, so voices change, facial expression, gestures everything change and the story teller is actually living the story for the children and the intonation of voice and the expression attracts the children and they become very quiet and enjoying the story because story telling is for children to enjoy, some stories teach a moral, values and skills but the utmost point is that children will enjoy that story.”

Eleanor Carrillo- Early Childhood Educator



Before telling a story the teller should learn the story well – you don’t have to read every word, try to make it your ‘own’ story.

 Use of pictures

Pictures have a central role to play in the story-based curriculum and the learning to-learn process. They can be a stimulus for forming hypothesis, predicting, sequencing and exercising memory. Words are better associated with pictures. In addition, a story is more memorable if it can be related to a sequence of pictures.


They can help in practicing speaking and writings skills. The story can be reconstructed orally or on paper (e.g. new drawings arranged in a sequence) with the help of key-visuals from the story book.

Characters can be drawn and cut out – give out to some of the children who can be involved when each character is active in the story. After the story telling simple puppets can be made and groups can re-tell the story using the puppets.

Other activities that can go with story telling:
* Give each pair a picture that depicts the events of the story and have them line them up in order of the events.

* Children can make up different titles for the story.

* Repeat quotes from the story and ask the children “Who said it?”

Stop reading before turning the page and ask ‘ What will happen in the story on the next page?’
Stop reading and let the children predict what they think will happen at the end. Let children (in pairs) draw a picture showing how they think the story will end.

* Teach them a song that goes along with the theme of the story. Teach them actions to go along with the songs. Introduce new vocabulary into the same song once children know the song well.
 Role play
* Let children act out parts of the story using role play. Use masks to extend role play.




* Give the children three events in the story and ask them which came first.
 Draw and tell
* Let the children draw a picture about their favourite part of the story and then explain it to the class, perhaps even act it out with a friend.

Pictures in this article were taken during zonal and district training for facilitators and Community Teaching Assistants in the seven regions of the TIE/EQUIP-Tanzania programme.

Where to find hope….

In these days, pessimism fills the media – so where do we find stories of hope for a better future?

Start here:

The Brightest Hope blog series

This once-a-week blog series features essays from the Education in Emergencies Essay Contest, which was organized by INEE and the UN Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative. INEEreceived 720 essay entries from 52 countries in four languages, from authors between the ages of seven and 68. Twelve of these essays made it into the final contest booklet entitled “The Brightest Hope“, and we will feature them in this blog series.

Common in all of the essay submissions from crisis-affected learners was a strong desire and an unyielding drive to continue or get back to education as quickly as possible. INEE works to increase awareness of the necessity and benefit in providing education alongside other lifesaving measures in humanitarian settings, and to elevate the voices of those whose education has been affected by emergencies.

Read the first two blog posts in the series now.

Education Cannot Wait

Education Cannot Wait

Introducing Education Cannot Wait a new global fund to transform the delivery of education in emergencies.

75 million school-aged children and youth are in desperate need of educational support, either in danger of, or already missing out on their education. Communities highlight the importance of education during times of crises, yet education appeals receive less than 2% of humanitarian funding. The right to education is most at risk during emergencies but it is also the exact time when it is needed the most.

Education Cannot Wait joins up governments, humanitarian actors, and development efforts to deliver a more collaborative and rapid response to the educational needs of children and youth affected by crises. The fund aims to reach all crisis-affected children and youth with safe, free and quality education by 2030.

Click here to read the full investment case for education in emergencies.

Visit for more information.

Posts that deal with access to education for children living in rural and isolated areas in Tanzania:

263 million children and youth are out of school ….and still counting !


263 million children and youth are out of school 
Yes and we are still counting as this does not include those children who are just below primary starting age and cannot access any pre-school education. Lacking pre-school experiences will mean many children will either not access primary (as they live too far away`0 or will not achieve much during the first two years, as they do not speak the language of instruction and will then be in danger of being ‘pushed out ‘ of school.
We know the dangers, as through the EQUIP-Tanzania programme, we are providing access to School Readiness centres for 150,000 children who live too far away from any pre-school and primary school. Read on….

Estimates show that 142 million youth between the ages of 15-17 are not in school

In a new paper by UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and the GEM Report –  entitled Leaving no one behind: How far on the way to universal primary and secondary education? – it is made clear that the challenge of getting all children and youth into school is immense.

About 263 million children and youth are out of school, according to new data from UIS. This is equivalent to a quarter of the population of Europe. The total includes 61 million children of primary school age, 60 million of lower secondary school age, and includes the first ever estimate of those of upper secondary school age at 142 million.

Children of sub-Saharan Africa the most excluded
Of all the regions, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates of exclusion. Over a fifth of children between the ages of 6-11 are out of school, followed by a third of youth between the ages of 12-14. According to UIS data, almost 60% of youth between the ages of 15-17 are not in school.

New data on upper secondary school aged youth
In every region, older youth face greater barriers to education. According to the global average, 15 to 17-year-olds are four times more likely to not be in school than children between the ages of 6-11. This is partly because primary and lower secondary education are compulsory in nearly every country, while upper secondary school is not. At the same time, these youth are often of legal working age. Many have no choice but to work while others try to combine going to school with employment.

These new findings are produced in a paper  released jointly by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report. The paper also reveals the vast challenges faced by the poorest children. In sub-Saharan Africa, only 65 of the poorest children for every 100 of the richest go to school according to GEM Report analysis. In Northern Africa and Western Asia, and Southern Asia, this rises to 90 of the poorest for every 100 of the richest.

Girls still more likely than boys to never go to school
Girls are more likely than boys never to set foot in a classroom, despite all the efforts and progress made over the past two decades. According to UIS data, 15 million girls of primary-school age will never get the chance to learn to read or write in primary school compared to about 10 million boys. Over half of these girls – 9 million – live in sub-Saharan Africa.

Poverty creates an additional barrier for girls. In Northern Africa and Western Asia, according to GEM Report analysis, among the poorest in the region, gaps are far wider: only 85 girls for every 100 boys of lower secondary school age attend school. Among those of upper secondary school age, only 77 of the poorest girls for every 100 of the poorest boys attend.

Conflict is a major barrier
Armed conflict poses another major barrier to education. Globally, 35% of all out-of-school children of primary age (22 million), 25% of all out-of-school adolescents of lower secondary age (15 million), and 18% of all out-of-school youth of upper secondary age live in conflict-affected areas (26 million).

Click to find out more and download the paper.