- Pre-primary education has received more attention in recent years, but this is still far below that of primary, particularly with respect to resources, leaving preschools with few dedicated teachers, very large class sizes, and limited teaching and learning materials.
- Although global evidence shows the importance of using age-appropriate teaching and learning methodologies, pre-primary teachers are under increasing pressure to deliver Standard I (first year of primary education) academic content using more traditional approaches.
- The challenge with working with government schools and teachers is that some of these teachers are transferred out of the programme schools after completing a professional development course with MECP. This means the teachers no longer receive on-going support or reach the children in target schools.
- MECP-Z has supported communities to establish and sustain 81 community-managed preschools that deliver high quality pre-primary education to their children. The teachers have undergone the holistic two-year professional development courses with both contact time and in-school mentor support. These teachers have been able to understand the importance of learning through play and how to implement age-appropriate teaching and learning methodologies in the classroom using low-cost materials. Because of this, children who attended MECP-Z supported community preschools are better prepared to start primary education as indicated by preliminary findings of an ongoing evaluation. When compared with government schools, children in MECP-Z have better free play opportunities and score better in the areas of language and literacy.
- By partnering with the MOEVT, MECP-Z has been able to extend its impact and influence dramatically. MECP-Z has developed and delivered in-service courses to over 400 teachers, supports 268 schools, chairs the Zanzibar ECE working group, and has been central to the design of the new ECE diploma curriculum.
- In 2013, MECP-Z became officially registered as a Teacher Training Centre by the Zanzibar Vocational Authority and now delivers government-recognised professional development courses. This has been part of a wider process that has increased the motivation of teaching at the pre-primary level, often considered a demotion, and the drive to improve learning in the classroom.