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Tanzanian parents' views on school readiness

We did in-depth phone interviews with parents in various regions of Tanzania, as well as an SMS poll for parents that was promoted through national TV (as part of our edutainment program, Ubongo Kids). The goal was to learn what challenges parents face in preparing their pre-school aged kids to enter primary school, and what topics/ subjects parents most want their children to learn for school readiness. The majority of parents listed lack of money to pay nursery school fees and lack of quality learning resources as the top challenges. When polled about what topics they wanted their young children to learn, the number one choice was English, followed by reading and writing (in Kiswahili), math, health, then art.

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We did in-depth telephone interviews with 24 parents from different regions across Tanzania, as well as an SMS poll on national TV (as part of our edutainment cartoon program, Ubongo Kids) which received over 3000 responses. 

Please note that parents interviewed and polled were those who watch an educational TV series along with their children, so there is a selection bias towards engaged parents.

Out of 24 parents interviewed, six said that they didn't do anything to prepare their children to enter school, and that they were waiting for their children to enter school for them to begin learning.  10 said that they could not afford to send their children to nursery school. 

When asked what difficulties they face in preparing their kids for primary school, two parents said they wished they had some kind of a "parent's guide" to help them teach their children.  A number of others said that they look at what their neighbors do, because they are unsure of what to do themselves.

Even those who did send their children to nursery school complained about the poor quality of the teachers and learning. 23 out of 24 parents said would like for their children to start learning English before entering primary school.  {For context: In Tanzania, primary school is taught in Kiswahili, with English as a subject, and secondary school is taught in English. Over 3/4 of Tanzanian students say that English is their most difficult subject.}

We will continue to interview parents over the coming month.  If you have specific questions for Tanzanian parents, please let us know, and we'll try to include them!


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Ngugı wa Thion’go, in his Decolonizing the Mind, noted ”The attitude to English was the exact opposite... English became the measure of intelligence and ability in the arts, the sciences, and all the other branches of learning. English became the main determinant of a child’s progress up the ladder of formal education.”

It interesting to Note -

" The language of education"
'......Throughout Africa in the early 1960s, the language of education was not the language of the people’s culture. The imitation of Western values has changed African behaviour and attitudes......'

Africa’s learning methods through imitation and the oral tradition of knowledge transmission are dying. Modernity is destroying the little that was transmitted. Education that was a lifelong experience is now largely an event in life. Children used to learn the entire flora and fauna that was within their environment. There was no pressure to master the language, the environment or the patterns of rainfall. It simply was an experience that, at an early age, a child would be able to tell which snakes were poisonous and which were not. .....'
By Ndemo.B

Extract from eLA report 2014 .. Feel encouraged to go through this publication

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