The 7th Annual Research Institute conference brought together stakeholders from health and education sectors to discuss challenges affecting Early Childhood Development.
Health and education services need to be integrated into Early Childhood Education curricula to ensure holistic and contextual child development. This was a call made by participants at the 7th Annual Research Institute (ARI) Conference.
The three-day conference held in Dar e Salaam in December 2019, focused discussions on the challenges to holistic approaches in East Africa with the theme ‘Early Childhood Education Care and Development in the 21st Century’.
Early Childhood Development (ECD) is usually known to be a preserve of teachers or ECD practitioners. However, participants raised the need for synergies to be created between healthcare and ECD practitioners. For starters a review of curriculum for both health and education was put the table.
Education stakeholders had the platform to discuss about the challenges facing ECD . Key organizations that took the discussions on this point upfront included: UNICEF; Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST), Tanzania; Department of International Development (DFID); Tanzania Education Network (TENMET) and Children in crossfire (CIC).
Professor Joe Lugalla Associate Vice Provost, Tanzania said “ It is through effective collaborations at all levels, that even the largest ECD challenges would be effectively resolved.’’
There were deliberations on policies and programs for ECD. Agreement for a need of both to be contextualized and implemented to support quality services for young children especially those in disadvantaged areas. This discussion was made possible by the involvement of our alumni Ms Euphrasia Buchuma who holds a senior position at the (MoEST), Tanzania.
A call for capacity building opportunities for practitioners working in the field of ECD .This point was emphasized as a tool to create professionals who will become competitive in the field compared to the current situation where Early Childhood is serviced by less qualified individuals at all levels.
Amongst the participants of the conference were alumni from IED, EA working at Tanzania’s Ministry of Education. They shared how their student experience and education at IED has had a positive impact on their careers.
“We are exemplary teachers and educational leaders. For those in management positions, we are able to lead and model good practice. We are effectively managing a variety of educational programs; we are capable of influencing change at the Ministry by encouraging innovations, critical thinking, commitment to cooperative working, collaboration with others as change agents, exemplary classroom practice, reflective thinking and reflective practice”, said Augusta Lupokela, Director of Teacher Education at Tanzania’s Ministry of Education. She is also an alumni of AKU’s Institute of Educational Development.
iED is keen at partnering with other universities in advocating for provision of quality education in East Africa.