In the 15- month project, which was handed over to the government by UNESCO on Thursday at a ceremony held in Korogwe District, children were provided with tablets equipped with education software that helped them to learn by themselves and acquire basic skills in reading, writing and arithmetic.
Implemented in six districts of Tanga Region—Mkinga, Muheza, Handeni, Korogwe, Lushoto, and Pangani, the project was executed in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), World Food Programme and the Global Learning Xprize.
Speaking at the handing over function, Tanga Regional Administrative Secretary (RAS), Zena Said described the pilot project as a milestone in transforming the education sector in the region and the country at large.
She said the project has helped to motivate underprivileged children to acquired basic skills—reading, writing, and arithmetic, while the society benefited in different ways including using solar power to charge their mobile phones as well as lighting.
“There are more children who weren’t part of the project, who have benefited from the tablets,” the official said, adding: “That’s why it is important for the project to be reviewed so that many children benefit from the project. Successes that will be registered in the second-phase will make us to convince the government to spread the project across the country.”
“It is also a good platform for Tanzania to improve literacy and address truancy and school dropout in the country,” Zena said, calling more education players to team up with the government to prepare ways on how the second phase will be executed.
She, however, suggested the need for the local government authorities in Tanga Region to reinforce satellite schools so that they can be used in implementing the proposed second phase, whereby children will be learning using tablets in those centers.
The RAS assured education stakeholders that the second phase will be achievable as it will be using the available infrastructure on the ground.
Zena also tasked responsible authorities to ensure that all those children who were in the first phase to be accommodated in the formal education system—primary to secondary schools and universities.
She said: “ This project has been beneficial not only to the children but also to the villages where it was implemented.”
According to Zena, during the second phase children will learn better ways of using the tablets which will be available at the satellite schools contrary to the first phase where the hardware were distributed to the families and they will be assisted by teachers to make the project more effective.
For his part UNESCO Head of Office and Representative, Tirso Dos Santos said that the project has proved that given the appropriate ICT tools and software children can teach by themselves to write, read and acquire basic numerous skills.
He said that despite various efforts being undertaken by the government to improve education sector in the country many children were still out of the school system.
The key question which was to be answered in this project was whether by using the software children could teach themselves. We are happy to have come to the conclusion that given the appropriate ICT tools and software children can indeed teach by themselves by using those tools which are designed in a way that captivate them to play throughout the process and therefore find the learning enjoyable,” he said.
Santos said that Unesco was handing over the project to the government for the purpose of sharing the achievements of project with a wide range of education stakeholders so that they can be influenced to support children with limited access to education in other remote and underprivileged communities.
During the project tablets with specific software were distributed to 2,700 children from 170 villages in Tanga region The Tanga field test was designed to determine which software enables the greatest proficiency gains.