Pre-school education is a very important stage of a child’s development, by the age of five, 90% of a child’s brain has already developed. It helps children make friends and prepare for formal education, and equal, affordable access can help close the inequality gap.
In Tanzania, only 34% of pre-primary children are in school. There is a severe lack of access to pre-school education, and children from poor families, living in rural areas, females, or children with disabilities are even less likely to be in school. Even for those who are lucky enough to be in school, the average qualified teacher: pupil ratio is 131:1. Leaving the most vulnerable children entering primary school unprepared for education. As comparison, in the UK 94% of children aged 3-4 access pre-school education, 91% of which are with providers rated good or outstanding by Ofsted.
The importance of pre-primary education is being globally recognised, with international organisations committing to spend more on early childhood education and increasing numbers of parents choosing to send their children to pre-school. At COCO, this is something that is of high importance in the poor, remote communities that we work in. Here's a few of the things we're doing to improve quality and access to pre-school education to provide the youngest children with the best start in life.
13 pre-primary schools across East Africa
Of the 17 partner schools in our Schools for Life programme, 13 of them offer pre-primary education. We are working directly with six partner nurseries across Tanzania, all providing quality education, including an important introduction to English to prepare students for learning and sitting exams in English in secondary school. Our six partner primary schools across Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda all incorporate pre-primary education, and one of our secondary schools (Elimika Centre) has recently opened a pre-school in its school hall in the mornings.
Nursery Teacher Training at the top of the list!
We are very excited that the Hoja Teacher Training and Learning Centre will soon be opening in Southern Tanzania, and the first course that will be offered when the doors open in nursery teacher training. This will spread the impact of quality education beyond the partner schools in our Schools for Life programme to benefit even more vulnerable children across the region.
Plenty of time for play
A very important part of pre-school education is ensuring that young children have plenty of time to use their imaginations, make friends, develop social skills and have fun. We aim for all of our partner nurseries have safe play areas and interactive learning resources to make learning enjoyable. Having play areas on site also attract parents to send their young children to school so they can use the equipment.
Working with communities
As well as directly working with schools, COCO also works with parents and the surrounding community to talk about the importance of education, to ensure the most vulnerable children, including girls and those with disabilities are in school. At Olomayani nursery, parents like Noongipa, who were previously afraid of sending their children to school in case their children forgot Maasai culture or were sent away, are now happy that their children are at nursery, learning within their Maasai community.
“Our teacher Mirihai is educated and uses his education to benefit our community. He still wears his Maasai clothes and helps us to create a bond with the wider world.” - Noongipa
Continue to improve access in the communities that we partner with and beyond! A few of our current priorities in pre-school education are:
A playground at MLASEO nursery in Tanzania
A food forest at MCODE Nursery to allow the community to generate income to continually improve education quality
Composting toilets at Mbinguni Nursery
An additional classroom at Olomayani Nursery so the 72 children enrolled in the school can learn in two separate classrooms
Annual refresher training for all nursery teachers
DONATE NOW to provide essential, quality teacher training to more children across remote parts of East Africa.