According to Muhammad Musa, Executive Director of BRAC International, through Yidan Prize funds, which BRAC was awarded in 2019, majority of vulnerable children in Tanzania, Uganda and Bangladesh have got access to quality education through play-based programmes.
Muhammad told this paper in an interview that, in 2019, BRAC International won the Yidan Prize project funding of around US$2 million which will be invested by BRAC in research, innovation, and scaling up high-impact solutions related to early childhood development to address the needs of children and families in resource constrained communities and humanitarian contexts.
“The Yidan Prize funds will be used to expand upon BRAC’s work of implementing play-based early childhood development (ECD) programs and to create and refine high impact, scalable ECD solutions which will ultimately improve the physical, cognitive, psychosocial and language development of children aged 0 to 6. This includes exploring the possibilities of integrating technology in low resource settings, offering support to parents, and training play leaders,” he said.
Muhammad expressed BRAC’s commitment that it will continue supporting the development of education in Tanzania by enabling more children from vulnerable families to access quality early education.
He noted that addressing the needs of children in the most disadvantaged communities has always been a core priority for BRAC, so the Yidan prize will support the organisation in scaling up their play-based early childhood development solutions in Uganda, Tanzania and Bangladesh.
Dr Erum Mariam, Executive Director, BRAC Institute of Educational said the foundation also support BRAC Tanzania’s ‘Early Childhood Development project’, which is a unique early childhood development program that serves to provide education in a play model to the Tanzanian children.
“The intersection of play, social emotional learning, resilience, development of executive function and self-regulation skills in early childhood, is proving to have tremendous implications for stimulating breakthrough outcomes for children,” he said.
Dr Erum said the early childhood development project is active in Mbeya and Dar es Salaam regions and is based on a curriculum which incorporates social and emotional learning. Their Play Labs are constructed in a sustainable and cost effective way and the Yidan Prize is supporting BRAC in scaling up the play-based early childhood development solutions.
The director also said that in order to continue promoting early childhood development (ECD) in government primary schools of Tanzania, BRAC will construct 30 play labs in selected government schools in Dar es Salam and Dodoma Regions where over 900 children will have access to quality early learning services.
“BRAC will also train 30 play leaders so as to provide quality early learning support to children, parenting sessions will conducted for parents of enrolled children as well as create demand for play based ECD among stakeholders such as government, schools, teachers, parents and community through advocacy,” she said
Dr Erum further said that, in efforts aimed to foster collaborations and drive education progress globally, the Yidan Prize Foundation, a global philanthropic educational foundation has also formed a 16-member “Council of Luminaries” so as to boost promotion of education policies and reforms.
Launched in December 2020, the council also focuses to make education more inclusive especially for children who are marginalized. The council comprises researchers, educators, neuroscientists, psychologists, economists, statisticians and innovators—all international experts working at the forefront of education today to build a better world.
Elaborating more about the just launched council of luminaries, Edward Ma, Secretary-General, Yidan Prize Foundation said the council members are determined to make education more responsive to the challenges of the 21st century and more inclusive of children who are marginalized in today’s systems.
He said the council’s unique strength lies in its ability to draw both on the research of educational experts from multiple disciplines; and the expertise of educational innovators and entrepreneurs. This talented group has the potential to build new bridges between the worlds of research and practice.
“While we do not have any luminaries from Tanzania, some of the works of our luminaries are contributing significantly to education development in Tanzania through CAMFED as well as BRAC Tanzania,” he said.
“BRAC Tanzania is a leading microfinance organization supporting over 195,000 people with small to medium size loans through 151 branches across 26 regions of the country. Their client portfolio consists of 55 per cent rural population and over 98 per cent women. Their programmatic interventions include microfinance, education, early childhood development, and empowerment and livelihood for adolescents,” he said.
Edward said the council members are determined to make education more responsive to the challenges of the 21st century and more inclusive of children who are marginalized in today’s systems. They have an optimism that is grounded in accomplishment.
“Our Luminaries will work together on real-world problems, while engaging with key stakeholders such as governments, NGOs and regulators on educational research and ideas. They will speak with a collective voice on the issues that matter most,” Edward added.
He further asserted CAMFED had been also awarded the Yidan Prize for Education development for their contribution to female education.
“CAMFED Tanzania launched in 2005, working with the government to boost secondary school enrolment. In 2019, CAMFED launched the Learner Guide Program in Tanzania, partnering with education, government and international stakeholders to explore ways of scaling the program nationally,” he noted.
He said that, by paying their school going costs (which include school uniforms, school supplies, or boarding costs) they are able to support thousands of girls through secondary school every year. Some of the girls have been able to achieve things they thought they’d never be able to achieve – passing exams, running businesses, and becoming learner guides, mentors and role models to other vulnerable children.