Children in Crossfire’s primary school workbook supports children during a pandemic and helps with adult literacy too
From 2019, Children in Crossfire started implementing its ‘Watoto Wetu, Tunu Yetu: Improved early learning for 3 – 5-year-olds in Dodoma’ project in Tanzania, funded by a UK Aid Direct Impact grant. The project sought to improve access and quality of age-appropriate early childhood development.
Its government-endorsed, pre-primary education model has cascaded to 223 schools in Chamwino and Kongwa districts and subsequently planned through local government to scale to all schools in the region. However, the outbreak of COVID-19 in Tanzania led to the closure of all schools and placed the project’s aims at risk. With children at home, parents had very limited means and experience to support their learning, especially in the rural of the project districts.
Government and other stakeholders responded to the school closures with digitalized learning alternatives such as television and radio programmes, initially focussed on examination classes level (but later expanded to all). These were digitally-based resources, however, it excluded thousands of rural-based children due to the limited access they had to digital devices and electricity.
With an additional COVID-19 Rapid Response grant from UK Aid Direct, Children in Crossfire pioneered a collaborative approach with government and education stakeholders through a series of virtual technical meetings to design and develop printed resources to support home-based learning for early years children, who did not have access to a radio, TV or digital education programmes. Initially designed for parental use in the home, this workbook encouraged the use of locally available, no-cost recyclable materials for playful learning at home.
The workbook was disseminated to over 21,000 children enrolled in all 232 Government primary schools in Kongwa and Chamwino, accelerating the reach of Children in Crossfire’s main impact grant. To ensure no children was left behind, the workbook was also adapted into accessible formats for children with visual impairments. Large print, tactile and braille versions were developed and distributed, along with tailored learning kits reaching 245 children with visual impairments. Parents and teachers working with children with disability were oriented on the effective use of these workbooks for remedial home-based learning programme.
As a result of the workbook, children were able to continue to learn at home when schools were closed. As schools reopened, Children in Crossfire again rapidly adapted their approach, supporting the use of the workbook in both school and at home. This led to relationships between parent, school and children being strengthened; the use of the workbook motivated parents to follow up on their children’s learning progress at home and school, and parent’s participation in other school development activities like feeding programmes for children, classroom construction and renovation also increased. Moreover, some parents confirmed to have used the PPE workbook to support their own literacy learning especially those who missed formal education.
Following positive participatory reviews of the workbook with parents, teachers and children by both Children in Crossfire and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the workbook is now being formally reviewed for its inclusion as a national curricular resource to be taken to scale across the country.
Learn more about how UK Aid Direct has supported education projects since 2018 by reading our reflections article.