STEM starts early: Views and beliefs of early childhood education stakeholders in Tanzania
For about a decade, Tanzania has intensely focused on developing literacy and numeracy skills in pre-primary and early grades programs. Recently, the attention has shifted towards the significance of teaching Science, Mathematics, Technology and Science (STEM) in the early years. To enhance the 21st century skills necessary for building a middle income and knowledge-based economies, the existing empirical evidence emphasizes the need for STEM education starting from pre-primary level. This paper aims to unpack the state of the STEM education in pre-primary education in Tanzania. By using homogenous purposive sampling, two policy-makers, three ECE academics, eight school principals, and eight pre-primary teachers from rural and urban public schools were recruited. Data were collected by interviews, semi-structured survey questionnaires, and documentary analyses. Though there was consensus among ECE stakeholders that children should be exposed to STEM environments as early as possible, findings indicated that even among ECE practitioners, there is a very vague understanding of what entails of STEM education in ECE. Further, while teachers were aware and guided to facilitate science and mathematics education, they were not aware and there were no specific policy briefs/circular instructions on how to facilitate Technology and Engineering education in ECE. The paper concludes with suggestions on how to integrate STEM in early childhood education, especially for Tanzania.
Aboud, F., & Hosain, K. (2010). The impact of pre-primary school on primary school achievement in Bangladesh. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 26(3), 237-246.
Auerbach, C. F., & Silverstein, L. B. (2003). Qualitative data: An introduction to coding and analysis. New York: New York University Press.
Beghetto, R. A., & Plucker, J. A. (2006). The relationship among schooling, learning, and creativity: “All roads lead to creativity” or “You can’t get there from here”? In J. C. Kaufman & J. Baer (Eds.), Creativity and reason in cognitive development (pp. 316-332). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511606915.019 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511606915.019
Black, M. M., Walker, S.P., Fernald, L.H., Andersen, C.T., Digirolamo, A. M.,Lu, C., … Grantham-McGregor, S. (2016). Early childhood development coming of age: Science through the life course. Lancet, 1, 1-14. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(16)31389-7. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(16)31389-7
Bowden, J. (2005). Reflections on the phenomenographic research process. J. Bowden & P. Green (Eds.), In Doing developmental phenomenography. Qualitative research methods series. Melbourne, Victoria: RMIT University Press.
Bowman, B. T., Donovan, M. S., & Burns, M. S. (Eds.). (2001). Eager to learn: Educating our preschoolers. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Buckler, A. (2015). Quality teaching in rural Sub-Saharan Africa: Different perspectives, values and capabilities. International Journal of Educational Development, 40(2), 126-133. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedudev.2014.10.008
Clements, D. H. (2002). Computers in early childhood mathematics. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 3(2), 160–218. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2304/ciec.2002.3.2.2
Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research design: A qualitative, quantitative & mixed method approaches (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publishers.
Creswell, J. W. (2012). Research design: A qualitative, quantitative & mixed method approaches (4rd ed.). Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publishers.
Doryan, A., Cautam, K. C., & Foege, W. H. (2002). The political challenge: Commitment and cooperation. In M. E. Young (Ed.), Investing in our children’s future: From early childhood development to human development (pp. 375-391). Washington D.C.: The World Bank.
Duncan, G. J., Dowsett, C. J., Claessens, A., Magnuson, K., Huston, A. C., Klebanov, P., & Japel, C. (2007). School readiness and later achievement. Developmental Psychology, 43(6), 1428–1446. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1622.214.171.1248
Duncan, G. J., & Magnuson, K. (2011). The nature and impact of early achievement skills, attention skills, & behavior problems. In G. J. Duncan & R. J. Murnane (Eds.), Whither Opportunity (pp. 47–69). New York: Russell Sage.
Edwards, C., Gandini, L., & Forman, G. (1998). The hundred languages of children: The Reggio Emilia approach – advanced reflections
(2nd ed.). London: Ablex Publishing Corporation.
Eshach, H., & Fried M. N. (2005). Should science be taught in early childhood? Journal of Science Education and Technology, 14(3), 315-336. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10956-005-7198-9
Farell, T.S.C., & Ives, J. (2015). Exploring teacher beliefs and classroom practices through reflective practice: A case study. Language and Teaching Research, 19(5), 594-610. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1362168814541722
Heckman, J. J. (2006). Investing in disadvantaged young children is an economically efficient policy. Paper Presented at the Committee for Economic Development/The Pew Charitable Trusts/PNC Financial Services Group Forum on “Building the Economic Case for Investing in Preschool”, New York. Retrieved from: http://www.ced.org/docs/report/report_2006heckman.pdf.
Institute of Medicine (IOM) & National Research Council (NRC). (2015). Transforming the workforce for children birth through age 8: A unifying foundation. In Allen, L., & Kelly, B. B. (Eds.). Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
Katz, J.L. (1999). Games and toys in teaching of science and technology education: Document series No. 29, June 17. Paris: UNESCO
Kilbanoff, R. S., Levine, S. C., Huttenlocher, J., Vasilyeva, M., & Hedges, L. V. (2006). Preschool children’s mathematical knowledge: The effect of teacher “math talk”. Developmental Psychology, 42(1), 59–69. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-16126.96.36.199
Lauwerier, T., & Akkari, A. (2015). Teachers and the quality of basic education in sub-Saharan Africa. Education Research and Foresight: Working Papers Series, no. 11.
Libent, D. (2015). Determinants of parents’ satisfaction with the quality of pre-primary education in Ilala District, Dar es Salaam Region, Tanzania (Published PhD Thesis). Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya.
Machumu, M. A. M. (2013). Promoting children’s learning through quality pre-primary education in Tanzania (Unpublished PhD thesis).University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Melhuish, E. C., Phan, M. B., Sylva, K., Sammons, P., Siraj-Blatchford, I., & Taggart, B. (2008). Effects of the home learning environment and preschool centre experience upon literacy and numeracy development in early primary school. Journal of Social Issues, 64(3), 95–114. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.2008.00550.x
Mghasse, N. E., & William, F. (2016). Practices and challenges in the provision of pre-primary education in Tanzania. African Research Review, 10(1), 1-16. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4314/afrrev.v10i1.1
Miles, M. B., & Hubberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative Data Analysis. London: Sage.
Ministry of Education and Culture (MOEC). (1995). Education and Training Policy. Dar es Salaam: Government press.
Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MoEVT). (2015). Education and Training Policy. Dar es Salaam: Government press.
Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST). (2017). Basic education statistics in Tanzania. Dar es Salaam: Government Press.
Mtahabwa, L. (2007). Pre-primary educational policy and practice in Tanzania: Observations from urban and rural pre-primary schools (Unpublished PhD Thesis). The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.
Mtahabwa, L. (2009). Early Childhood Development and Care in Tanzania: Challenges for the future. Early Child Development and Care, 179(1), 55-67. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430600923436
Mtahabwa, L. (2010). Provision of pre-primary education as a basic right in Tanzania: Reflections from policy documents. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 11(4), 353-364. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2304/ciec.2010.11.4.353
Mtahabwa, L. (2014). Promoting the rights to early childhood care and education in Tanzania: A baseline study. A Consultancy Report Funded by TEN/MET/ANCEFA/Pestalozzi Children’s.
Mtahabwa, L. (2015). Aligning pre-primary teacher education programmes to policy and curricula in Tanzania. Journal of Education, Humanities and Sciences, 4(2), 1-28.
National Association for the Education of Young Children [NAEYC] & Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media. (2012). Technology and interactive media as tools in early childhood programs serving children from birth through age 8. Retrieved from: http://www.naeyc.org/content/technology-&-young-children
Ndijuye, L.G. (2019). Developing conflict resolution skills among pre-primary children: Views and practices of parents and teachers in Tanzania. Global Studies of Childhood. doi:2043610619832895 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/2043610619832895
Ndijuye, L. G., & Rao, N., (2018). Pre-primary education policy in Tanzania: Does it meet the educational needs of newly naturalized refugee children? Global Education Review, 5(4), 36-54.
Ndijuye, L. G., & Rao, N., (2019). Early reading and mathematics attainment of children of recently naturalized refugees in Tanzania. International Journal of Education Development, 65, 183-193. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedudev.2018.08.002
Ndijuye, L.G., &. Tandika, P. B. (2019). Timely promotion as a motivation factor for job performance among pre-primary school teachers: Observations from Tanzania. Journal of Early Childhood Studies, 3(2), 440-456. DOI: https://doi.org/10.24130/eccd-jecs.1967201932129
Onwuegbuzie, A.J., Leech, N.L., & Collins, K.M.T. (2012). Qualitative analysis techniques for the review of literature. The Qualitative Report, 17(56), 1-28.
O-saki, K., (2007). Science and mathematics teacher preparation in Tanzania: Lessons from teacher improvement projects in Tanzania: 1965–2006. NUE Journal of International Cooperation, 2(1), 51–64.
Osborne, J., Simon, S., & Collins, S. (2003). Attitudes towards science: A review of the literature and its implications. International Journal of Science Education, 25(9), 1049–1079. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0950069032000032199
Pantoya, M.L., Aguirre-Munoz, Z., & Hunt, E.M. (2015). Developing an engineering identity in early childhood. American Journal of Engineering Education, 6(2), 61–68. DOI: https://doi.org/10.19030/ajee.v6i2.9502
Pasnik, S., & Hupert, N. (2016). Early STEM Learning and the Roles of Technologies. Retrieved from: http://ltd.edc.org/sites/ltd.edc.org/files/EarlySTEMTechWhitePaper.pdf.
Patrick, H., Mantzicopoulos, P., Samarapungavan, A., & French, B. F. (2008). Patterns of young children’s motivation for science and teacher-child relationship. The Journal of Experimental Education, 76(2), 121–144. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3200/JEXE.76.2.121-144
Patton, M. Q. (2009). An introduction to qualitative research (4th ed.). London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Pramling, I., & Kaga, Y. (2008). The contribution of early childhood education to sustainable society. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001593/159355E.pdf.
Punch, K. F. (2005). Introduction to social research: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. London: Sage Publications.
Saçkes, M., Trundle, K. C., Bell, R. L., & O’Connell, A. A. (2011). The influence of early science experience in kindergarten on children’s immediate and later science achievement: Evidence from the early childhood longitudinal study. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(2), 217–235. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/tea.20395
Sarama, J., Lange, A., Clements, D. H., & Wolfe, C. B. (2012). The impacts of an early mathematics curriculum on emerging literacy and language. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 27(1), 489–502. doi: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2011.12.002 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecresq.2011.12.002
Semali, L. M., & Mehta, K. (2012). Science education in Tanzania: Challenges and policy responses. International Journal of Education Research, 53(3), 225–239 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijer.2012.03.012
Shonkoff, J. P., & Phillips, D. A. (Eds.). (2000). From neurons to neighborhoods: The science of early childhood development. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
STEM Smart. (2013). Nurturing STEM skills in young learners, PreK–3. Retrieved from: http://successfulstemeducation.org/resources/nurturing-stem-skills-young-learners-prek%E2%80%933
Stylianidou, F., Glauert, E., Rossis, D., Compton, A., Cremin, T., Craft, A., & Havu-Nuutinen, S. (2018). Fostering Inquiry and creativity in early years STEM education: Policy recommendations from the Creative Little Scientists Project. European Journal of STEM Education, 3(3), 15-31. doi:10.20897/ejsteme/3875 DOI: https://doi.org/10.20897/ejsteme/3875
Tam, A. C. F. (2015). The role of a professional learning community in teacher change: A perspective from beliefs & practices. Teachers &Teaching: Theory & Practice, 21(1), 22–43. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13540602.2014.928122
Tandika, P. B., & Ndijuye, L.G. (2019a). Integration of the use of ICT in pre-primary classroom pedagogical practices in Tanzania: Stakeholders’ views & practices. Journal of Information & Learning Sciences, 59(4), 35-59.
Tandika, P. B., & Ndijuye, L.G. (2019b). Do fathers’ involvement in young children’s development and learning in the early years important? Experiences from the caregivers in Tanzania. Global Education Review, 6(1), 63-74.
Watters, J. J., Diezmann, C. M., Grieshaber, S. J., & Davis, J. M. (2000). Enhancing science education for young children: A contemporary Initiative. Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 26(2), 1-7.
Copyright (c) 2020 Journal of Childhood, Education & Society
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Attribution: You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
NonCommercial: You may not use the material for commercial purposes.
NoDerivatives: If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material.
Author(s) must confirm that Journal of Childhood, Education & Society retains all the copyrights unconditionally and indefinitely to distribute the articles published by Journal of Childhood, Education & Society.