Funding for under-fives in Tanzania will help more children into preschools

Children At Brac Play Lab In Kilakala Tanzania Play The Ukuti Song
Children at the Play Lab at Kilakala play the 'ukuti' song (BRAC,

Child nutrition (Early years), Childcare, Early childhood development, Education funding, ​Learning through play (Early years)

The money from the UK will be used to improve early years care, hygiene and sanitation - as well as helping to improve nutrition.

A $12 million cash injection to help young children in Tanzania has been welcomed by an early childhood development expert who says it will also boost primary school enrolment. 

The money from the United Kingdom will improve early years care and urban sanitation.

ECD expert Janeth Malela, who is working with the charity BRAC Tanzania as project manager of its Play Labs, confirmed she will be involved in the initiative.

“This is such a good opportunity for Tanzania as there are gaps in early childhood development, hygiene and sanitation here,” she said.

Research tells us that the early years – from birth to five – are the most essential in any child’s life.

Their brain is 90% developed by the time they are five years old. Proper nutrition, stimulation, care and protection are vital if a young child is to reach its full potential.

Theirworld’s #5for5 campaign has been highlighting the importance of the early years and the need for countries to invest in the development of their under-fives.

The British funding was announced recently in Tanzania’s biggest city Dar Es Salaam. The Director General of the Commission for Science and Technology (Costech), Dr Hassan Mshinda, said the money will improve childhood development and help to enhance urban sanitation.

“This will also open doors for more young innovators whose focus is to create solutions in the sectors of education, health and environment-based social entrepreneurship,” he added.

Malela said: “I will be involved in all parts of the process of initiating the programme, implementing it and managing it as I’ve already been working in this area for more than four years.”

She explained that the programme will help to increase school enrolment, reduce stunting in children and increase productivity and efficiency.

Children At A Brac Play Lab In Tanzania Are Play With Wooden Blocks

Children at a BRAC Play Lab have fun with wooden blocks (BRAC,

“There is low enrolment of pre-primary schools (around 35% at national level), so this programme will help to mainstream children to pre-primary, which will increase the primary enrolment percentage,” she said.

Malela said the funding will also help to reduce poverty, decrease economic disparities within the community, reduce child abuse cases due to parenting education and improve technological advancement through innovation and creativity which are integrated in ECD.

The money will be sent to where it is most needed – to fill the many gaps in Tanzania’s current ECD structure as the country continues to embrace the importance of early childhood development. 

Malela said: “Our suggestions will be in peripheral rural regions like Lindi, Ruvuma and Mtwara, where the exposure to ECD content is very little compared to urban areas.”

Stunting – lack of growth due to malnutrition and poor stimulation – affects about 40% of children under five in Tanzania.

There is an absence of ECD centres in rural areas but there is high demand here. Janeth Malela, Project Manager of BRAC Tanzania's Play Labs

“The high rate of stunting is due to gaps of knowledge among parents and caregivers when it comes to nutrition,” said Malela. “There are also gaps in education when it comes to working and caring for disabled children.

“There is an absence of ECD centres in rural areas but there is high demand here. There has also been a lack of awareness of understanding of the rapid brain development of a child which is occurring in the early years of life.”

She said investment such as the UK funding will allow ECD centres to be built in rural areas, with the community contributing to the projects. Caregivers and teachers will also be able to get better theoretical and practical training.

A spokesman for the UK’s Department of International Development said: “There is a need to increase the quality of services and the quality of outcomes in order for Tanzania to reduce poverty and further its development. HDIF (Human Development Innovation Fund) was established by DFID to address these needs. 

“It will challenge the notion of ‘business as usual’ and encourage organisations to take a risk and do something different.”

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