DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, 27 April 2016 – The Government of Tanzania has launched today Fursa Kwa Watoto (Kiswahili for “opportunities for children”), a program aimed at improving the quality of and access to pre-primary education for all children in mainland Tanzania. Led by the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training, the program is funded by Dubai Cares, UNICEF and the Hewlett Foundation and implemented by national, regional and local governments and partners such as Children in Crossfire, Aga Khan University, Maarifa ni Ufunguo and TAHEA. The evaluation component, which will produce important data on pre-primary education in Tanzania, is led by Mathematica Policy Research with Corporate Social Responsibility Group Africa (CSR).
At a press conference marking the launch of the program, Mr. Nicolas Buretta, Acting Director of Basic Education, said: “The Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training is proud to lead the Fursa kwa Watoto initiative, in partnership with Dubai Cares, UNICEF, Children in Crossfire and other important partners. Pre-primary education is a key priority for the nation, and Fursa kwa Watoto is contributing valuable experience and evidence on the strategies we will need to expand quality pre-primary education for all children in Tanzania.
A delegation led by Dubai Cares’ Chief Executive Officer Tariq Al Gurg and consisting of United Arab Emirates-based media and Dubai Cares employees arrived in the country earlier this week and plans to visit schools to take stock of the program’s implementation on the ground so far.
Mr. Al Gurg, who joined with representatives from the Ministry of Education, UNICEF and Children in Crossfire in launching the programme, said: “It gives my team and I great pleasure to witness the success of our early education programs in East Africa. In recent years, the Government of Tanzania has achieved great progress in facilitating access to early education programs 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-school teachers and adequate materials.”
With funding of around US$5.8 million the the “Fursa kwa Watoto” initiative will provide quality pre-primary education to more than 29,000 children in Tanzania, though the impact is expected to be much greater, as the experience and data can guide plans for the expansion of quality pre-primary nationwide.
Craig Ferla, Director of Children in Crossfire, said: “the Fursa kwa Watoto initiative is the most exciting initiative of its type in pre-primary education in Tanzania. As well as improving pre-primary for over 29,000 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 program 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.”
Cecilia Baldeh, Chief of Education of UNICEF Tanzania noted: “There is a great deal of evidence confirming that the highest return on investments in education and training are those made during early childhood. Global research estimates that one dollar invested in pre-school yields between 7 and 17 dollars in higher future wages. We comment the Government of Tanzania for recognizing pre-primary education as an essential component of the wider nationall agenda of improving primary school outcomes.”
Quality pre-primary education has a lasting impact on a child’s school achievement, number of years of education and completion. Yet most children in Tanzania miss out on these benefits as only 34% of all 5 to 6 year-olds are enrolled in pre-primary school. These figures are much lower in rural areas, and the quality of pre-primary education faces many challenges. As a result, the majority of children are ill-equipped for primary schooling and do not have the necessary foundation for effective learning.
The Government of Tanzania has shown growing commitment to early learning for children and in 2015 it introduced one year compulsory pre-primary as part of basic education. As it works to expand access, the government is also committed to improving equity and investing in quality to guarantee children enter Standard I ready to learn. Fursa Kwa Watoto is an important support to the government’s effort in ensuring equitable access to quality pre-primary education for all children in Tanzania.
About Dubai Cares:
Dubai Cares, part of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, is a UAE-based global philanthropic organization working towards providing children in developing countries with access to quality education. Our mission to increase children’s access to quality education is guided by a common principle: children ready for schools, schools ready for children, parents and the community ready to play their role. Gender equality is a cross cutting theme in all Dubai Cares’ education programs. Central to Dubai Cares’ approach is also a focus on monitoring, evaluation and learning.
Over the past 9 years, Dubai Cares has successfully launched education programs reaching over 14 million beneficiaries in 41 developing countries in partnership with UN aid agencies and international and local NGOs such as the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Plan International, World Food Program, Pratham, Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi, Associates in Research and Education for Development (ARED), CARE International and Save the Children among others.
Dubai Cares is an active contributor to efforts aimed at shaping the global education agenda. In 2015, the organization joined United Nations representatives and other relevant agencies in New York to discuss the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the next 15 years. To learn more, please visit www.dubaicares.ae.
About Children in Crossfire
Established in 1996, Children in Crossfire help the most vulnerable children on the planet who suffer from the injustices of poverty. Over the past 20 years we have worked in many countries in Africa, Asia & South America and supported thousands of children. Today our focus is Tanzania and Ethiopia where we work with young children to give them the best start in life. We improve early childhood education services, provide nutritional support and health education to the most vulnerable families and we partner with parents, communities and local and national authorities. We believe that working in this way helps children reach their potential.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF Tanzania and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/tanzania.