School Management Committees
School Management Committee (SMC) members overwhelmingly agreed that preprimary schooling is important. Many SMC members see preprimary education as critical in preparation for future education, and a place where children can build a foundation academically, emotionally, and socially.
“In my understanding preprimary education creates the environments for the child to love to implement the Tanzanian syllabus as it has been prepared. Therefore things that are supposed to be taught in preprimary education for now I think those children should learn how to read, write, and counting. This gives them the picture that school revolves around all those three areas simultaneously. So let’s say preprimary education is like sense organs because the sense organs must work together.”
“[Pre-primary education] is a priority because it is where you start to make a step, it is like when the baby is born s/he must start sitting down, crawling and his/her preparations start there. Therefore preprimary education is a starter for upper classes so there must be enough preparations to put the student in a good position to move to upper classes.”
While committee members note that many parents and schools need to improve aspects of preprimary education, most also add that in the past several years, improvements to preprimary education have been made, even if small.
“The primary school has been prioritizing preprimary education because we need to build a good foundation for the students we enroll for standard one otherwise they will take time to understand the concepts. We have to improve the environment by ensuring the availability of learning and teaching materials.”
“Pre-primary classes, previously, were aloof primary schools premises. They were conducted outside primary schools. The education given in those classes had no specific direction. Later on, it pleased the government to have these classes conducted within primary schools, to enable the children to get used to the environment, as part of the preparation for them to join primary schools as they finish pre-primary program.”
SMC members report being involved in and implementing a variety of activities. Many report a high level of cooperation between the committee, teachers, parents, and the community to ensure that goals are met. SMC members also report that they were involved in enrolling students, acquiring learning materials, ensuring students were fed, monitoring and evaluating preprimary teachers, and supervising improvements to school infrastructure (and acquiring additional funds for such projects when needed). Most SMC members believe that they have been fulfilling their responsibilities.
“The main task of the committee is to supervise and to make sure that preprimary class is present. And it has done a huge task in making the parents bring the children who are in a right age to join preprimary class. But also the committee has supervised to make sure the necessary materials needed in class are available. So the committee monitors preprimary class and supervises it well.”
“The school leadership together with the SMC has been motivating the parents to enroll their children in preprimary class. But also making sure that their children attend school and get required education.”
“The responsibility of the committee is to put friendly environment for these children to learn and that toilet which was broken for a long time. So the committee in collaboration with the community and village leadership supervised maintenance of that toilet, they put doors; they build a tank for preserving water. So the committee has supervised those activities and mobilize the community and talk with the village leadership.”
"The committee has really helped in improving the preprimary class especially in moving and renovating the class. So when the committee motivates parents, teachers, the whole community, and even the sponsors who help us with most of the things."
Regarding challenges facing the SMC, members cite the teacher shortage, lack of funding for preprimary education, poor attendance at committee meetings, and poor parental involvement as main challenges to the committee.
- “People may talk about the tangible achievements like buildings or infrastructures, but there are some other things that are not tangible like being able to implement educational activities, ensuring a good attendance on a daily basis. The challenge that we face in preprimary education is the shortage of teachers, I think one teacher and one week of training is not enough. We need more experienced teachers to teach the children.”
SMC members who knew of and/or attended the Fursa Kwa Watoto program spoke highly of the training.
- “This training was very important because it helped the teacher and other stakeholders like committee members to know importance of improving preprimary class because that is the foundation of education in preprimary education. So they understood and they were able to motivate other people and arrange strategies for preprimary class. It has also helped the teachers to know the importance of that class on a higher extent than before.”