Pre-primary education as a key foundation for later learning and development
Research confirms that the return on investment in human development is highest during the early childhood period. The estimated return is 7-16% annually for quality early childhood programs targeting vulnerable children. Compensatory programs provided later in life are more costly and less effective. The longer a society waits to provide support to learning and development, the more expensive it is to achieve results. The Lancet early childhood series makes a strong economic case for investing in young children. Investing in early childhood development in developing countries may yield up to a 17-fold return on that investment. However, the data on child development outcomes, including early learning and school readiness, is sparse in Tanzania and there is limited costing data on various pre-primary models. Still this information is needed for government planning and the expansion of quality pre-primary education.
Financing pre-primary education in Tanzania
The Education Sector Development Plan for 2016–2021 estimates that, by 2020, nearly 90 percent of students will be enrolled, costing the GoT close to 138 million USD annually. However, the lack of evidence on early learning outcomes as well as effective and scalable strategies in Tanzania is a critical barrier to building the political will and developing clear costed plans to expand access to quality pre-primary education. Fursa kwa Watoto presents an opportunity to build evidence on cost-effective, quality pre-primary education models through the development, implementation and evaluation of innovative pre-primary interventions in Tanzania.
FkW and the costs of pre-primary
Our primary goal is to capture all of the costs and investments associated with FkW in intervention schools, including items such as labor and staffing, materials, equipment, infrastructure, feeding, and ongoing support to pre-primary teachers. Costs will be estimated at the most appropriate level—either at the school, teacher, or staff level—and later converted to student-level costs using teacher/student ratios from administrative or evaluation data. We will work with CiC and other Steering Committee members, as well as the TTCs, MoEVT, and PMO-RALG, to assess the available cost data and coordinate the collection of financial data. We will strive to place minimum burden on implementers and government agencies by using existing financial data and limiting requests for supplemental information. We will collect data and prioritize these key questions.
What are the basic costs of pre-primary education? Given the FkW model, what is the cost per student per year at schools to implement quality pre-primary education?
Are capitation grants reaching schools and are resources being used for pre-primary? What other resources if any are going towards pre-primary?
First, we will collect and examine administrative data from Steering Committee partners to calculate and organize all costs associated with the FkW intervention in the schools participating in the evaluation. We will collect expenditure information on paid and volunteer labor, training, meetings and events, materials and equipment, and other costs. We will attempt to separate costs associated with the in-school component from costs associated with the parent and community component. We will use data on both expenditures and off-budget (donated) goods and services associated with (a) staff labor and salaries, (b) travel and events, and (c) materials or equipment associated with the intervention. To capture the value of donated goods and services, we will request or use existing administrative data on the number of volunteers associated with the intervention, the type of work they performed, the number of hours they donated, and locations where activities took place, as well as food, transportation, or housing provided to the project without cost. Further, we will conduct interviews with staff from Steering Committee organizations to help us understand the interventions’ full range of investments and help understand the depreciation and potential future benefits of large up-front investments financed by the project.
During interviews with MoEVT and other government staff, we will ask about the ministry’s full range of investments associated with pre-primary in the schools included in the evaluation. In addition to asking about direct labor and material/equipment costs, we will ask about any volunteers’ investments associated with the ministry’s ECE programs. These interviews will focus on the ministry’s documented costs and off-budget activities and resource utilization. We will ask MoEVT for the same information on all costs (outside of any teacher and infrastructure costs) that are uniform across intervention schools.
As part of the head teacher and teacher interviews and teacher surveys, we will ask how much schools must spend to provide quality pre-primary education. We will also ask head teachers and teachers to estimate the value of their donation of time, money, and goods (that is, provided without compensation or paid for with their own money). This information will be used to calculate the total amount of additional resources that teachers devoted to FkW, and the extent to which these resources may have been diverted from other activities.
Finally, during FGDs with parents and communities, we will ask questions to explore volunteers’ labor and monetary investments associated with the intervention, as well as the average opportunity cost of each type of volunteer—that is, the monetary value of activities or work volunteers could have completed during the time they donated to the intervention or spent participating in community action meetings and events related to FkW. We will pose questions to volunteers in everyday language and translate their responses into a form that can be useful for the cost analysis. For example, if most volunteers say that volunteering their time did not interfere with income-generating activities, this will inform our assumptions about the average value of volunteers’ opportunity costs. We will also gather information on parents’ and caregivers’ opportunity costs associated with these activities. This information will be used to calculate the total amount of additional resources that parents and caregivers devoted to FkW, and the extent to which these resources were diverted from other activities.
¹ Naudeau, Kataoka, Valerio, Neuman & Elder, 2011
² Heckman, 2008
³ The Lancet Child Development Reports (Sept 23rd 2011). Paper 2: “Strategies for reducing inequalities and improving developmental outcomes for young children in low-income and middle income countries