Sustainable Development Goal 4 states:
“Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”
Easy to state, but what does it mean and how can we achieve it?
In Tanzania, there are many ‘out of school’ children who are not able to access any type of education due to the location of their homes -many kilometres away from the nearest pre-school or primary school. And if they finally get there -they may not understand much, as the language of instruction is not the children’s home language or mother tongue.
In EQUIP-Tanzania, we have tried to consider the issue from a child’s point of view and have established 1000 school readiness centres with bilingual Community Teaching Assistants (CTAs) volunteering to support these children to access quality educational experiences.
The centres may be quite remote, but at the start of the School Readiness programme where we may expected 15 0r 20 children to join as many as 200 may turn up -anyone from 4 to 12 years of age! Such has been the demand (and official statistics often miss many of the out of school children) that we have suffered from ‘success problems’. The problems exist due to a lack of space and materials and lack of experience for the CTAs, who have done an amazing job in taking on such challenges.
Many headteachers would dearly love to employ CTAs who have such commitment,and some have done so or at least supported them as they work in standard 1 classrooms at the end of the SR classes.
Commitment of the CTAs is such that when asked if they would like to continue supporting their children after the end of the 12 week SR class -98% of the 1000 CTAs agreed to do so – again voluntarily. We are now trying to provide extra support so that eventually they can be recognised as a pre-school teacher by the Government.
A School Readiness centre demands much support from the community and many communities have stepped up to the challenge. A class may well start under a tree….
due to the interest and demand, community members decide to build a simple structure to protect the children from some of the elements…..
and then finally to start on the road to building a more permanent structure by their own efforts and resources…..
Once they have built the foundations and walls with their own resources the government will take on their proposal and may agree to pay for the roof and basic essentials for a classroom.
Equip-Tanzania are now considering supporting the government to implement their policy of one year pre-school education for 5/6 year olds along with their plans for building of satellite schools for those living in more remote areas.
Watch this space as we revolutionise rural education with 3000 SR centres during 2016. Bringing a taste of quality education to at least 150,000 children.