The African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) is currently implementing the Urban Education project aimed at improving the quality of education for children living in urban informal settlements in East Africa through evidence-based advocacy in the three countries (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania).
The project seeks to promote the adoption and implementation of supportive policies for schools serving the urban poor through creation of country specific urban education groups and a regional education group.
These groups will bring together education stakeholders working in the marginalized communities with an aim of creating a unified platform to push for change using research evidence.
In Tanzania, SACMEQ and UWEZO research findings indicate disparities between children from poorer households who consistently show lower learning levels (Uwezo, 2014). The Tanzanian constitution however does not commit the government to providing education. There is limited evidence on education of urban poor in Tanzania, with little research on this population being conducted.
The meeting in Tanzania was therefore an eye opener to most of the attendees. From discussions with participants, while there are similarities and differences between Kenya and Tanzania. For instance, while in Kenya the urban poor attend the low cost private schools, in Tanzania most attend public schools.
Among other issues affecting the education of the urban poor in Tanzania formed the backdrop against which APHRC in partnership with TEN/MET, the national education coalition of Civil Society Organizations in Tanzania, convened a one day inception meeting in Dar es Saalam. The inception meeting held at the Protea Hotel, brought together 21 education stakeholders from 11 organizations that have interest on the education received by children from urban poor households.
1.Creation/Strengthening of a strong, coordinated policy agenda and voice for the promotion of quality education in poor urban informal neighborhoods through formation of an Education Working Group;
2.Improved policymaker understanding of education and schooling for the poor in urban East Africa (through articulation of policy and research issues affecting children attending school in poor neighborhoods in urban East Africa).
Based on the policy issues identified during the meeting, members of the Urban Education Group (UEG) proposed broad categories to guide discussions on the various policy issues to be prioritized under each thematic area. These broad categories are: Access and equity; Quality of education and teachers, Governance and accountability, resources and child protection.
POLICY ISSUES IDENTIFIED
Policy issues identified by participants in order of priority for each thematic area
Access and equity
1. Food security – school feeding program for public schools serving the urban poor
2. Encourage community and parental involvement
3. Negative effects of technology which affects parental involvement
4. Unpaid child labour that hinders learners from accessing school
Other Issues Identified
5. Lack of budgetary allocation to some sub sectors such as Early Childhood Development
Quality and Teachers
1. Large class sizes in public schools serving the poor due to limited infrastructure which are not even growing
2. The living conditions of teachers. Participants coiled the phrase “Teachers are not teaching” because of their living conditions.
3. Teacher development – training, support, mentoring, and coaching
4. Lack of teaching and learning materials which was identified as a national level issue
5. Language of instructions especially when pupils transit to secondary school – which was identified as a National issue
6. Harmful cultural practices – attitudes towards girls, abuse (Temeke report by FAWE – to be shared with TENMET, Mdundiko, Kigodoro)
Other Issues identified
7. Low motivation of teachers especially those in the hardship areas.
8. Lack of a teacher’s professional board to regulate, accredit teachers. This was identified as a national issue
9. Teacher absenteeism which hampers the quality of education
10. Movement of teacher education to National Council for Technical Education (NACTE) is detrimental to the quality of education. Stakeholders underscored the need for a meeting n with the Ministry of Education to chart a way forward.
11. Process of curriculum reforms: The stakeholders present stated that the process of curriculum reforms is ongoing. However, there is lack of an in depth analysis and there has been no stakeholder involvement in the curriculum review. Issues such as life skills being neglected in the curriculum and also the relevance of the curriculum were some of the areas identified as loopholes.
12. Inadequate trained experts in the area of Quality Assurance. The existing officers operate with poor budgetary allocation and Inadequate facilities
1. Management of sexual maturation e.g. menstruation management for girls, sexual harassment (both boys and girls)} and exposure to pornographic materials
2. Drug and alcohol abuse – enforcement of policies and guidelines on handling and selling of such to children
3. Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)
4. Children’s paid and unpaid child labour affecting attendance and low performance
5. Means of transport – harassment on way to school
Special needs Education
1. Capitation for learners with special needs – should be considered with extra resources to meet their demanding needs
2. Teachers for learners with special needs are misallocated and are not enough, there is only 1 government training college for SNE’s. Also, there is misallocation of teachers and there is an urgent need for Inclusion of basic SNE training in teacher training colleges.
3. Enrolling children with disabilities to nearby schools in poor urban communities – ensure schools meet basic minimum requirements for special needs – e.g. friendly infrastructure
4. Integration of gender responsive pedagogy in teacher training was identified as a national policy issue
5. Lack of clarity on policies of re-entry of teenage mothers back to the mainstream education cycle.
Governance and accountability
1. Target school managers and committees to create awareness of their responsibilities, roles and functions – especially the SMCs – National
2. Relationship between SMCs and community – Parents not quite involved on what happens in schools where their children are enrolled (e.g. they don’t attend meeting when called) – National
3. Monitoring of schools by relevant inspectorates – National
4. Government promises – fulfilment of promises – National