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Tanzania, 24 November 2014: Regional workshop promotes quality, affordable pre-primary education

© UNICEF Tanzania/2014
The First Vice President of Zanzibar with the co-conveners (GIZ, GPE, UNICEF Tanzania), Zanzibar Government officials and the children of Kidutani pre-school at the end of day one of the Regional Workshop Eastern and Southern Africa Affordable, Quality Pre-Primary Education for ALL

24 November 2014, Zanzibar, Tanzania – Today, Zanzibar’s First Vice President H.E. Seif Sharif Hamad opened a Regional Workshop on Quality, Affordable Pre-Primary Education.

The workshop is welcoming delegations from 16 countries from around Africa. The aim of the workshop is to support countries to plan and operationalize good quality national pre-primary programmes, including how to ensure these reach the most vulnerable young children. Country delegations will share ideas across the region and receive guidance from global experts to strengthen their national pre-primary plans over the course of the workshop. The ultimate goal is that participating countries will improve their ability to provide quality pre-primary education to all children, so that every child will enter school ready to learn.

The Regional Workshop on National Planning for Quality Affordable Pre-Primary Education for the eastern and southern African Region is being organized by UNICEF, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Secretariat, the World Bank, and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), implemented by Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). Additional sponsors and supporters including the Association for Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), Save the Children, the World Organization for Early Childhood Education (OMEP), the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), Dubai Cares, UNESCO, and the Open Society Foundation (OSF).

In Tanzania, and across the region, there is an increasing focus on improving the quality of education and improving learning outcomes for all students.

Extensive evidence shows that children who attend quality pre-primary education have improved early language, literacy and mathematics skills, in addition to the social capacities they need to succeed in school. The impact of quality pre-primary education is long-lasting, with improved learning outcomes in primary school, and even improved earnings later in life. According to the Lancet Journal, one dollar invested in pre-school will yield 7 to 17 dollars in higher future wages. Thus investing in early childhood education is one of the most cost-effective commitments a government can make. Yet while most countries now recognize the importance of establishing learning foundations before school entry, many countries have expressed an interest in receiving support on how to effectively scale-up quality pre-primary education.

In Tanzania, only one third of children have access to pre-primary education. In 2013, the mainland showed a net enrolment rate of 35.5 per cent in 2013, while in Zanzibar it was slightly higher at 37.3 per cent.

Yet both Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar’s Ministries of Education have committed to expanding access to quality pre-primary education in order to improve school readiness and learning outcomes later in primary school. ‘The first six years of a child’s life ― when the brain grows most rapidly ― is a critical, singular opportunity to positively shape a growing mind and a better future for the child in school and society. Unlocking these benefits requires investing in early childhood learning - investing early, investing equitably, and investing in quality,’ says UNICEF Tanzania’s Deputy Representative, Mr. Paul Edwards.

On Tanzania Mainland, investments in pre-primary education contribute directly to the goals of the ‘Big Results Now’ initiative – a new development strategy adopted by the Government in 2013 - by securing strong foundations for learning, including in the 3Rs (Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic). ‘We have set ambitious targets for improving the quality of learning in primary school, especially on the 3Rs, and we know that important foundations for early literacy and numeracy are established in quality pre-primary classes,’ says the Hon. Dr. Shukuru Kawambwa, Minister of Education and Vocational Training (MoEVT).

Fursa kwa Watoto, “Opportunities for Children,” an initiative to provide quality-enhanced pre-primary education and evaluate the impact on school readiness and learning outcomes in Standard II, is one contribution to pre-primary in Mainland Tanzania. Fursa kwa Watoto is led by MoEVT and the Prime Minister Office Regional Administration and Local Government (PMO-RALG), with support from Dubai Cares, UNICEF, Children in Crossfire and others. ‘Dubai Cares decided to support work on pre-primary education after participating in the National ECD Forum in Arusha in 2012. We saw how committed both governments were to supporting early childhood, and we knew that because of this, investments in Tanzania would make a difference,’ says Ana Nieto, Senior Technical Manager of Dubai Cares, which is also funding an early childhood initiative in Zanzibar.

In Zanzibar, work on pre-primary education is also going strong, with efforts to strengthen quality and expand access as widely as possible via multiple modalities of pre-primary provision, including State preschools (including stand-alone preschools and preschool classes based at primary schools) ,Madrassa community-based early childhood and development programmes, and others, including TUTU Radio, which offers radio-based instruction for community-organized groups of young children facilitated by mentors.

The workshop will conclude on 27 November, when a ‘Call to Action on Quality, Affordable Pre-Primary Education’ is expected to be drafted and approved. In addition, throughout the course of the workshop, country delegations will have developed a 2015-2016 Action Plan for Pre-Primary Education that will guide and contribute to national planning processes.


For further information, including interviews, please contact:

Sandra Bisin, UNICEF Tanzania, Mobile: +255 787 600079,

Jacqueline Namfua, UNICEF Tanzania, Phone: +255 754711073,



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