|The purpose of this study was to investigate experiences, possibilities, and issues encountered by teachers in the enactment of early childhood education and care curriculum and pedagogy in the Tanzanian context. Worldwide, the concept of early childhood education and care does not refer to a single entity; rather, the term covers a variety of programmes for young children between birth and eight years. It is theorised in the literature that improving human development in the early years in good quality early education, is definitely a way to break out of poverty because early investment has a very high economic rate of return.
The government of Tanzania formalised pre-school education for children aged 5 and 6 years old under the Tanzania’s Education and Training Policy in 1995 and placed it under the direction of the Ministry of Education. Having formalised pre-school education, the government in partnership with parents, community, and non-governmental organisations agreed to support this education. However, anecdotes suggested that all activities to implement the policy were left to parents, communities, and non-governmental organisations. Hence, it was suspected that there might be challenges, experiences, and possibilities arising when teachers enact the current pre-school education curriculum developed in 2005, and associated pedagogies in the classroom context.
This study within an interpretive paradigm took a case study approach to investigate participants’ views on the enactment of the Tanzanian pre-school education curriculum and associated pedagogies. Views on the curriculum enactment were elicited from 28 participants; six from government educational officials (national level) and 22 from the local level (six teachers, four parents, and 12 pre-school children) in the one rural and the one urban pre-school. Multi-methods were used to generate data through individual interviews, focus group discussions, classroom observations, documentary review, informal conversations, and the researcher’s reflective journal. Data were analysed thematically by NVivo 10 software developed by QSR International.
Ecological systems theory developed by Urie Bronfenbrenner (1917-2005), and sociocultural theories developed by Lev Semenovich Vygotsky (1896-1934) were used as lenses for framing the study, data analysis, interpretation of findings, and drawing conclusions.
The findings revealed that there was a mismatch between the intended pre-school education curriculum and the curriculum enacted by teachers in the field. The data analysis indicated that this ineffective enactment of the curriculum and associated pedagogies in the field was influenced by lack of clear policy guidelines as to how pre-school education would be funded and conducted (i.e. structural and quality aspects), limited human and physical resources, lack of involvement of the key users on curriculum development, lack of awareness of parents and community regarding the importance of early education investment, and detrimental cultural beliefs and traditions practiced in relation to young children. Hence, in public pre-school settings studied, parents and the community were not able to provide quality pre-school education. Quality pre-school education in the international literature indicates the importance of learner-centred pedagogy.
However, few studies conducted in the Tanzanian context have written on the importance of learner-centred pedagogy in teaching and learning. Moreover, those studies that have been carried out have not indicated how learner-centred pedagogy could be enacted in the Tanzanian context. So, this study has provided a number of suggestions to inform government policy makers of ways to implement learner-centred pedagogies for quality early childhood education and care.
To that end, the study concludes that for the better enactment of pre-school education curriculum and pedagogical practice, there is a need for the government to prioritise in early education. It needs to involve parents and community to work with qualified teachers and local experts to develop child-centred pedagogy. Together with this, the study contributes to knowledge by developing an early childhood education and care model aiming at promoting capacity building for parents, community volunteers, teachers, and children for quality early education provision.