How do head teachers describe the state of pre-primary education in Tanzania?

Most Head Teachers (HTs) have noticed improvement of preprimary education in Tanzania during recent years, but challenges still exist. Many HTs see the teacher shortage (in part due to increasing student enrollment), lack of funding (especially through capitation grants excluding preprimary) and the poor infrastructure of schools as a major hindrance to quality preprimary education in the country. 

  • “…We have >1,000 students from standard 1-7 this year with only 14 teachers. From those 14 teachers we take one of them to teach preprimary class and you can see this is a big challenge. Despite that we cannot stop teaching preprimary children…We have a heavy burden and we will carry on until we get more teachers.” 

  • “I can say that state of preprimary education in Tanzania is a bit confusing because the schools themselves are different. At one school you may find an advanced and well organized preprimary class and if you visit other schools the preprimary classes are in a poor condition – they are not child-friendly and the environment is not suitable for learning.”
    — Head Teacher from Moshi

  • “Last year we had 79 students in preprimary class, and this year we have 203 in preprimary class. Parents now understand the importance of preprimary education more than ever before. They just let their children come, which increases the number of enrolled students.”
    — Head Teacher from Mwanza

What changes have head teachers seen in their school as a result of the Fursa training? 

When asked about changes in their schools and classrooms since the FkW training, head teachers discussed a variety of positive improvements. Some HTs discussed improvements to the learning environment, which included changes to classroom infrastructure and increased availability of learning materials. Many HTs reported that children were more excited about going to school, both because of the improved environment and because of their teachers. HTs also stated that there were noticeable academic improvements among students who advanced from pre-primary class to Standard 1. HTs also highlighted positive changes to pre-primary teachers’ instructional practices, such as use of learning corners and lesson plans. 

  • “After FkW, for the first time we had 30 children that we taught despite being in a hard environment, and then they went to standard 1 knowing some things.  Last year we had 95 and majority went to Standard 1 better prepared. I believe next year we will have a best class. We are expecting them to know more things when they get to standard 1 compared to this year’s class.” — Head Teacher from Mwanza.

  • “The kids are more active, they sing and are now more free to write and play with the tools they are given. And because now they have their own place and are not with the older kids, they play a little before going to class – it is like a little exercise because if not they will start getting sleepy in class. The playing around before going to class helps to keep their minds active and not fall asleep in class which we did not do before.”
    — Head Teacher from Moshi.

How do head teachers benefit from Fursa training?

Most head teachers that the greatest benefit of the Fursa training was learning to put more resources and effort into their preprimary classroom by supporting teachers who instruct the preprimary class, and developing a better understanding of how to teacher preprimary children. HTs also said that they learned how to assess student learning and improve the classroom environment and teaching methods.

  • “The FkW training has empowered us. I wasn’t taught about preprimary at the college but the seminars were quite informative. We got to know things a preprimary child should learn and we were also told that, to be successful, we need to put preprimary in our school plans.”
    — Head Teacher from Mwanza

  • “I would casually assign a teacher to go look after the students and make sure they don’t make any noise. However, since we received the training we have shared the information we learnt and when a teacher is assigned to a preprimary class, they are aware they are going there to teach and not just to sit around. Another change is that I have given them a better classroom and we are still contemplating on other ways of improving that classroom so that it becomes more suitable for the small children. I have already mentioned other things like being able to develop and create better and cheaper materials that are suitable for children use like boxes, chairs, bottles etc.”
    — Head Teacher from Moshi. 

  • “We have learnt about mentoring, we have learnt how to be a leader and look after the students. For example, we used to look at the preprimary classroom as a normal class – we did not care where it was located. But after the training we were motivated. We came and changed where the children were and brought them where they are now, so the seminar inspired us a lot. We came and taught all other teachers who did not attend the seminar, on how we should treat the preprimary students, and they were motivated. We came back and made that class our priority, because like now when we no longer have a preprimary teacher, when other teachers don’t have classes to teach we ask them to go and teach or play with the preprimary class. Thus the teacher goes there and play with them. To be honest the seminar has helped us a lot.”
    — Head Teacher from Moshi

What action plans did head teachers develop for their school after having received the Fursa training?

All Fursa-trained head teachers developed an action plan for their school. Head teachers listed a wide variety of goals on their action plans, which included making structural improvements to the classroom, incorporating more assessments into pre-primary teaching, partnering with the community to improve pre-primary education and provide children with meals in school, and improving numeracy and literacy, among other things. HTs often reported that the component of their action plan they were most able to achieve was bringing improvements to the classroom infrastructure or setup. HTs also said that support from parents enabled them to achieve their goals.  

  • “We have improved the windows, and we have accomplished security issues. The porridge program is still in development, but we start to offer porridge on Friday.”
    — Head teacher from Mwanza.

  • “In the initial action plan we had three components: 1) Preparing the children during registration; 2) preparing the classroom since we didn’t have a specific preprimary classroom; and 3) preparing different meetings to influence and educate the community about the preprimary education.”
    — Head Teacher from Mwanza.

  • “What enabled to accomplish our plans was the cooperation between teachers and parents. We were able to sit down and talk about how to implement them. So it is involving teachers, parents, and other people who know the importance of education.”
    — Head Teacher from Kilimanjaro.