Education projects focus on improving access to and the quality of education, student learning, teacher professional development, and the educational context in which students learn.
Though primary school enrollment in Tanzania is estimated at 94 percent, the number of children passing their exams in recent years has fallen. In fact, it is estimated that only a third of children who have been in primary school for three years can read (UWEZO 2011). Challenges include a low quality of education, low attendance, lack of preparation for primary school students, and lack of motivation and training for teachers.
High-quality education is central to improving community economic and social well-being, so TPP has focused its efforts on pre-primary, primary and secondary school education in three key areas: teacher professional development, infrastructure development, and improving the overall learning environment.
In the 2016 fiscal year, TPP has made strides against some of biggest barriers to educational success in Naitolia and Milola villages including: improving student achievement, reducing hunger of school children, promoting girls’ education, enhancing teaching skills, and introducing experiential learning that’s connected to the national curriculum.
- TPP continued efforts in Naitolia and Milola to improve parental and community support for education by meeting with parents and School Committees. The meetings stressed the importance of children’s attendance and performance, as well has how education can improve their children’s future economic opportunities.
- Teachers held meetings with parents to let them know their children’s grades and ranks in the national exams, helping to ensure parental involvement and support.
- Despite falling pass rates across the country, the Naitolia primary school’s national exam scores improved significantly, moving the school from 41st position in the District to 11th this year.
- The new improved pit latrines at each school have improved hygiene and children say that the clean latrines are an additional reason for them to attend.
- Playgrounds as places to play and spaces to learn were built at Milola A, Milola B and Ngwenya schools. A soccer field and netball court were installed at the Milola Ward secondary school. Play360, a U.S. based NGO, led the construction efforts. Dar es Salaam College of Education (DUCE) faculty provided training for teachers on how to use the playgrounds as sites for experiential learning. Teachers have observed that the playgrounds have increased school attendance.
- Two classrooms in Milola B that were not safe or conducive to learning were repaired. Grades I and II are now being held in theserefurbished classrooms.
- In 2015, the Tanzanian national government widened the main road in Milola, which meant the removal of water lines to the Milola secondary school. TPP is working with the Lindi Rural District government to replace the water lines and hook up the water pump to the new electric lines in order to restore water to the school.
Ngwenya, Milola sub-village
- In 2013, children in Ngwenya did not attend school because younger pupils could not walk to the distance to Milola. TPP supported the construction of a new school for 92 pre-primary pupils. Today, enrollment has increased to 103 in pre-primary, first and second grade.
- To meet the growing number of students and classes at Ngwenya, the District has assigned two new teachers, bringing the total number of teachers at Ngwenya to three.
- The teachers have moved into the newly completed duplex housing, with the two new teachers sharing a unit. The housing project was funded by the TAG Philanthropic Foundation and TPP.
Teacher Professional Development
Well-prepared and motivated teachers are key to providing high-quality education. In Tanzania, teachers in rural schools tend to be relatively less prepared and experienced, and because of difficult teaching and living environments these schools face higher teacher turnover as well. TPP is working to improve teachers’ skills and the teaching environment.
- TPP conducted a needs assessment to understand the challenges facing teachers in the primary schools of Naitolia, Mswakini Chini, and Mswakini Juu villages located in Mswakini Ward, Monduli District.
- Based on the needs assessment, TPP held a seven-day training for 25 teachers from the three Ward primary schools focusing on learning and teaching theories, the new national curriculum, what it means to be a good teacher, and self-assessment.
- Students and teachers planted a 1.5-acre school garden to provide food for the school feeding program and create a space for experiential learning. Teachers developed lesson plans to teach various subjects in the garden setting such as geometry, plant science, nutrition, and agricultural economics.
- Naitolia teachers attended a three-day training at ECHO, a local NGO, to learn bio-intensive agriculture techniques and the role gardens can play in improving nutrition and reducing food insecurity.
School Feeding Programs
Children who come to school hungry have trouble learning. School feeding programs provide a nutritious daily meal to schoolchildren and give parents an incentive to send their children to school. By alleviating hunger, students are motivated to attend school and are better able to concentrate and learn during their classes.
- During 2016, TPP supported school feeding programs in Naitolia and Milola serving 27,600 meals to approximately 2,300 children. The program was supported by parents’ contribution of corn and beans, and contributions from TPP and the 2015 MSU study abroad students.
- Teachers and students planted a 3-acre school farm at the NaitoSave lia school. The initial harvest yielded 20 kilograms of beans and cowpeas for the school feeding program.
- Seeds, supplies and farming implements were provided to the Milola A, Milola B and Ngwenya school farms for the current planting season. Beans and maize were planted to make porridge and sesame was planted as a cash crop to raise funds for additional food.
In Tanzania, girls’ enrollment in primary school is equal to that of boys. Despite this, girls face many challenges related to retention, completion and transition to secondary school. According to a 2014 national study, only 37 percent of primary school girls go on to secondary school and fewer than four percent of girls actually graduate. At Milola Secondary School, which serves seven villages, not a single girl has graduated in the past three years. The challenges are many: long distance to school, early pregnancies, abuse and sexual harassment en route to school or in rental housing, lack of private and hygienic latrines, household work demands placed on girls, and lack of parental support.
- Over the last year, TPP began working with adolescent girls in Milola to improve their education and well-being. Initial efforts include a needs assessment in which girls are asked what can be done to improve their lives.
- The idea of forming girls’ clubs was introduced to the community. Girls were invited to attend and women were identified to be mentors. The clubs began in August 2016.
Playgrounds and Experiential Learning
Partnerships for Sustainable Community Development partnered with an outside nongovernmental organization, Play360, to create and implement an innovative project—A Place to Play, a Place to Learn: The Tanzania School Playground and Sports Project. The playgrounds establish safe environments to encourage children to practice both structured and unstructured play, as well as spaces for teachers to promote interactive learning. Bethany Wilinski, an assistant professor of education at Michigan State University and the education sector lead for the Tanzanian Partnership Program, summarized the partnership's recent work on supporting the playgrounds and experiential learning in a recent project summary.
- Playgrounds as places to play and spaces to learn were built at Milola A, Milola B and Ngwenya schools in 2015. A soccer field and netball court were installed at the Milola Ward secondary school. Play360 led the construction efforts. Dar es Salaam College of Education (DUCE) faculty provided training for teachers on how to use the playgrounds as sites for experiential learning. Teachers have observed that the playgrounds have increased school attendance.
- From April to June 2016, a team of seven doctoral students from Michigan State University’s College of Education developed curriculum modules in English, math, and science for grades one through four. Students worked in teams, with content area specialists paired with students from the Department of Kinesiology. Working under the supervision of MSU and DUCE faculty, each team developed three modules for their subject area, each consisting of a sequence of three lessons, focused on a single topic.
- MSU doctoral students produced several supplementary materials to support teachers in the implementation of the modules. These include: “Suggestions for Participatory Classroom Strategies,” “Suggestions for Managing the Class,” “Suggestions for Formative Assessments,” and an explanation of motor development in young children.
- In July and August 2016, math and science subject area modules and supplementary material were translated into Swahili.
- TPP will conduct a professional development workshop in December 2016 with teachers to introduce them to the modules and the concept of learning through play using playgrounds and sport. The workshop will be experiential, with a focus on teachers engaging in the activities that they may carry out with their students.