Differences between stated and implemented policies in Early Childhood Education leadership: A case study of Tanzania
Bakuza, Fortidas Rwehumbiza
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the differences between the stated and implemented policies in Early Childhood Education (ECE) leadership in Tanzania. A qualitative case study was conducted in Tanzania at national level, local government authorities (district level) and primary school level in two districts of Temeke in Dar es Salaam and Bagamoyo in Pwani (Coast). The study was guided by four main research questions that were intended to find out how the policies enacted at the national level were implemented at local level, the professional background of those implementing the policies in ECE, supporting structures that were in place to support ECE leadership and the last question was looking at the perceived barriers in ECE leadership in Tanzania. Through the case study approach, key government documents on education were reviewed to determine the increase or decrease in students' enrollment, teacher training, curriculum development and resource allocations. Interviews were conducted with national level officials, district education officials, primary school head teachers and classroom teachers. The total of 37 participants participated in this study; 9 people at national level, 4 people at the district level and 24 for teachers - six head teachers and 18 classroom teachers. The findings from the review of government documents revealed that although ECE was part of the formal education system; the enrollment of students in ECE classes was fluctuating indicating a decrease rather than an increase. The findings indicated that ECE was not included in the education annual budgets for the data that were available from 2003/04 to 2012/2013. Also findings indicated that there was a shortage of trained ECE teachers and that the current ratio of 1:114 was well above the approved teacher student ratio of 1:25. There was no report during this study that could indicate how the government was implementing the Teacher Development Management (TDMs) to meet the increased demand of qualified teachers. The findings from interviews confirmed the gaps that were found in the review of government documents in ECE. While the ETP 1995 was being implemented, it was found that the policy did not have a clear plan of implementation and there were many gaps between policy and practice because the policy was not accessible and was not well disseminated. Findings indicate that education activities in Tanzania are implemented through directives and guidelines from the national level and the policy is not known to many people even at the national level. The findings also revealed that ECE activities did not have government funding; a situation that was described as impeding the implementation of all planned activities in ECE. Findings also indicate that the few successful examples, such as document production dissemination, regular workshops and seminars were supported by donor agencies outside the government budget. However, donor agencies covered few districts and even within each district only a few schools were supported. Two challenges were observed: donor funds were at small scale, therefore creating inequalities even within the same district, and the donor funds are not sustainable. This study revealed that people who were in leadership positions did not have the prior ECE leadership training or they had short courses such as seminars and workshops. These findings were in line with findings in the literature review where ECE leadership training was viewed as an international problem. Findings in the literature review indicated that the field of ECE was dominated by women. This was also true in this study because out of 37 participants in this study only 9 participants were men and 28 participants were women. However, all 9 men were in leadership positions which also confirm with findings from a literature review that indicate leadership positions to be dominated by men. Findings from this study indicate that primary school teachers were working in poor environments with limited support. Curriculum was reported to change frequently without teacher training on curriculum implementations. The increase in the number of subjects at lower levels increased the pressure on teachers, but also the teachers could no longer spend enough time teaching the 3Rs [Reading, Writing and Arithmetic]. The overcrowded classrooms with limited teaching and learning materials increased the workload on teachers and lack of incentives reduced teacher morale. In order to help children succeed, all teachers suggested that subjects should be reduced in ECE, grade one and grade two in order to give enough time to teachers to teach the 3Rs. There were at least three limitations this study. The first limitation was the size of the sample for the study. Only 37 people were interviewed and this may limit our ability to generalize the findings. The second limitation was lack of research funding that could have allowed more time to reach out to more participants and more time in the field. Third, the study was conducted in only two districts; Temeke and Bagamoyo, in Tanzania. The two districts presented the most positive image of ECE because of donor support. The situation may be worse in rural districts which do not have donor support. Future research should take this study to scale in order to compare districts that do not have donor support and those with donor support in the implementation of ECE activities. Therefore, the three main findings from this study are lack of funding to ECE activities, lack or limited opportunities for ECE leadership training especially for head teachers who are supposed to provide pedagogical leadership and support to teachers and parents and the poor government communication which tends to be bureaucratic and one direction. In order to improve the implementation of education policy in ECE the government should ensure that there is in place a strategy that defines lines of communication from the national level to the school level and vice versa. The government should provide people in leadership positions with specialized training in the implementation of ECE policy. The government should increase the education budget and ECE allocation should be explicit, provide ECE leadership training and support to the head teachers to enable them to manage ECE classes for the quality of ECE; improve teaching and learning environments and the teachers' concern about the number of subjects should be taken seriously and involve higher learning institutions in policy development and implementation.