On 14th of June 2021 ahead of the International Day of the African Child, BRAC Maendeleo Tanzania together with the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly, and Children launched a model Early Childhood Development Center at Chamwino Primary School in Dodoma.
The ECD centre was officially inaugurated by the Deputy Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly, and Children, Honorable Mwanaidi Ali Hamisi.
The Chamwino play based centre is part of 30 ECD centres that are funded by the YIDAN prize Foundation for Educational Development that was obtained by the late BRAC Founder Sir Fazle Hasan Abed.
In 2020, BRAC with guidance from the President’s Office Region-al Administration and Local Governments and the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly, and Children selected 30 government primary schools to collocate the ECD centers where 20 will be in Dodoma and 10 centers will be in Dar es Salaam region. The 30 centers are expected to host an estimated 1500 children aged 3 5 years old, with 50 children per center.
The Chamwino center is the first to be completed which will benefit children within the community who will later be mainstreamed to the Chamwino Primary School from pre-primary to primary school.
All the ECD centers in this Yidan Prize funded project will use a curriculum that was developed in collaboration with the Tanzania Institute of Education (TIE) and other ECD stake-holders which is based on the ECD project model designed by BRAC that is being implemented in Mbeya and Dar es Salaam.
The BRAC play-based learning model was chosen because of its innovative approach to ensure quality, low-cost learning opportunities for marginalized children.
The model uses indoor and outdoor play activities that use mostly recycled local materials to equip children with knowledge and skills that prepare them for school. Through these centers, children will participate in early learning activities in a two-year program that will enable the children to develop cognitive, emotional, linguistic, and numerical capabilities. After graduation from these centers, the children will be mainstreamed to pre-primary classes in the respective government schools where BRAC will continue to provide technical support to build the capacity of the pre-primary teachers on play-based learning and teaching.
Explaining about the pro-gram, Susan Bipa, the acting Country Director of BRAC Maendeleo Tanzania, says BRAC started focusing on education to young children through the Early Childhood Development project called Play Lab in 2016 with funding from the LEGO Foundation.
The ECD Play Lab project has been implemented in Dar es Salaam and Mbeya regions and currently has 80 ECD centers and 96% of those children were able to join pre-schools in the respective areas. In 2018 another education project known as Education, Empowerment and Life skills for Adolescent girls and Young children (EELAY) was launched with an ECD component with 35 ECD centers.
This project is funded by NORAD. Since 2016 when BRAC introduced the play-based learning model through the Play Lab project, and later through EELAY project, more than 5,000 have been mainstreamed to primary schools. With the new funded ECD project BRAC currently has 115 ECD centers in Tanga, Mbeya and Dar es Salaam.