By Misheck Mberi – Firstly, may I take this opportunity to thank you for inviting Shout-Africa.com to participate in this interview so as to explain to our audience who and what your organisation is about.
1) Let me start these proceedings Arcard, by asking why you as a Tanzanian citizen elected to be involved with your organisation (TECDEN)
Its because of my passion to contribute to the realisation of the rights and needs of young children (0 – 8years) in Tanzania. It is the role of the National secretariat to ensure that TECDEN achieves its vision of a Tanzania where all infants and young children have all their rights and needs met to enable them to grow and thrive up to their full potential. TECDEN does this through working in partnership with other networks, coalitions, institutions and like minded stakeholders to influence policies, programmes and practices related to Early Childhood Development (ECD) by sharing information, experiences and generating knowledge and understanding on ECD with the goal to influence change towards early investments in young children 0-8 years at all levels in Tanzania.
2) Following on from the previous question exactly why do you feel Arcard, that seemingly the Tanzanian government has failed to have both its own initiative and organisation so as not to warrant the need for an operation such as Tecden? (in most Western Countries most projects/initiatives like yours are taken on by government ministries rather than by donor funded organisations
I would like to make point here that TECDEN is an umbrella organisation of ECD Civil Society organisations that are working in the areas of early childhood development across all regions in Tanzania, currently in only 14 regions of mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar with strategic intention of covering the rest of the regions by 2016. Note however that TECDEN was not established to do the work on behalf of the government but to complement government efforts that already exist through its key ECD related ministries of Health and Social Welfare; Ministry of Education and Vocational Training and the Ministry of Community Development Gender and Children. The Government has realised the work of the network in supporting interventions/ issues around ECD and now TECDEN is recognised as a representative of Civil Society Organisations in all high level ECD meetings. This is what makes Tanzania a unique country South of Sahara sub Region that has a working ECD structure involving key ECD Ministries and Civil society Organisations –TECDEN to bring the voices of children into Government plans and budgets. To answer your question, I wish to say that Tanzania is among countries that have made ECD a top priority issue and that is why it was involved in the preparation of the Sub regional Conference on ECD that was held in Arusha 2008 that made strong commitments for countries in the sub Region to make ECD a key agenda and of recent this year in February conducted a Biennial National ECD forum that came out with strong declarations on ECD. Finalisation of the IECD policy being among the declarations that were signed by five Ministers responsible with ECD in the country. Tanzania upholds a multi stakeholder collaboration in dealing with early childhood development issues that bring together the private sector; Civil society organisations ; development partners and the government, all working to realise the best outcomes for young children. So it is my appeal to other countries to learn and adopt the Tanzania’s approach if we want to bring positive change for young children in Africa and the rest of the world.
3) Before TECDEN what would you say has been the plight of previous generations of young children in the rural areas of Tanzania?
Like many other countries in the world, child care practices have been changing with changing social economic structures and contexts in different areas. This is no different from what is/has been happening in Tanzania. Previously childcare was supported by extended family ties that are diminishing leaving childcare to carers who are mostly untrained. As a result of people being subjected to work more hours in order to earn their living and other social changes among families and communities, young children are subjected to a number of risks including child abuse and neglect; missing early learning opportunities; necessary health care; enough nutrition and all related rights and needs for young children to grow and prosper. Governments overtime have been playing their role in addressing young children issues that has always been inadequate to meet the actual needs for young children in the growing populations. In such kind of situations children encounter a lot of challenges that affect child development and thus national development. The need for stakeholder intervention therefore arises from that point to rescue the worsening early childhood development services. TECDEN through its members plays a complementary role to government work to promote provision of quality ECD services and working with the government to put in place good policy environments that support investment in the early years 0-8 years. A number of programs are now in place at all levels from community to National level that target children from conception to age eight. For Tanzania in particular we are finalising an integrated ECD policy that will give more opportunities for young children to access quality services.
4) As far as Shout-Africa.com is aware, TECDEN is in receipt of a lot of funding from various donors. As such, the question I feel compelled to ask here is exactly why do you feel that it is necessary to have the ratification from other ministerial areas for what we understand is primarily an issue for the development of the youth?
I must admit that TECDEN through its members get funding from various donors to implement different diverse programs on early childhood development. As earlier said in previous questions, TECDEN is not affiliated with the government, it works in collaboration with the government to bridge a gap where there is a need. TECDEN’s work however is based on its mandate and scope to achieve its vision and mission. However this does not underscore the role of the government in identifying key areas that support need to be directed. This is where the link is. The only area of agreement TECDEN has with the government is allocation of resources that have been mobilised from different donors based on the need. At this point TECDEN links with the local government and National government to identify strategic areas that need support to avoid duplication of efforts. It is the role of the network there after to report to the government so as to incorporate TECDEN work in government plans at all levels. I however don’t agree with your contention that all we do need to be ratified by the government. I want to assure you that despite our collaboration with the government in ECD planning, we have another role of advocacy that is meant to raise the awareness of the general public, the government and all other stakeholders on the importance of early investments in young children (ECD);the need for wide stakeholder demand for quality ECD services for young children; and promotion of early investment in children at their early years. At this point TECDEN exerts a pressure on the government to allocate more resources for ECD at all levels. TECDEN works in partnership with other stakeholders to ensure that issues of young children are prioritised and reflected in government plans and budgets.
5) Following the previous question, it will perhaps interest the audience of Shout-Africa.com if I ask you Arcard the following: exactly why has it taken from June 2004 until early 2012, to have acquired the acknowledgement of the Tanzanian government for authorization so that TECDEN can fully operate in Tanzania? Admittedly, some of our listeners and subscribers will be of the view that it has been preposterously absurd amount of time to have elapsed.
I guess there is missing information regarding our network. 2004 was a year of formal registration but TECDEN was in existence from year 2000, and for your information from the time of its inception TECDEN was recognised by the government as a representative of Civil society organisation and has been involved in different ECD interventions ever since.. For example it was involved in the collaborative process of collecting and collating views from different stakeholders ( members and others )that necessitated inclusion of ECD in MKUKUTA 1 and II (The National strategy for Growth and reduction of poverty) a sign of recognition by the government on its contribution on ECD in Tanzania. Not only that TECDEN has been involved in the establishment and operationalisation of the ECD service delivery initiative that gave rise to the development of the integrated Early Childhood development policy )IECD policy that is being finalised. During all this time to date TECDEN participate in all high level Government meetings regarding ECD. What Shout-Africa.com see as starting is a continuation of the long standing collaboration between TECDEN and the government in issues related to young children in Tanzania. Note however that in 2007 for example TECDEN in collaboration with the three ECD ministries prepared the Sub Regional conference on ECD that took place in Arusha and of recent this year the preparation of the Biennial National forum on ECD that took place in Arusha February 2012. It is worth noting that during the meeting TECDEN was one of the signatories of the joint statement between the Government; and development partners in a move to ensure that government declarations during the forum are implemented with joint effort from all stakeholders. This is the clear sign of the role of the network in the realisation of young children’s rights and needs to develop to full potential.
6) Thank you. At this juncture Arcard, since the implementation of TECDEN, how many children can hand on heart, TECDEN claim to have empowered to face the challenges of the modern world?
The number is huge. I can’t even tell how many. TECDEN members have diverse programs from ECD service provision eg health, day care centres; orphanages; pre schools; pre primary schools; primary school programs; advocacy; awareness raising programs, capacity building programs and all ECD related interventions that involve families and communities at grass root level . In all these programs young children are primary beneficiaries. You can estimate the number based on the number of TECDEN members that are to a minimum of 140 members who work directly with children in 14 regions of main land Tanzania and Zanzibar. The exact number will be provided after we have conducted a mapping exercise that is planned to start soon. With this exercise we shall be able to give you a precise number of children and other ECD beneficiaries reached.
7) Can you explain what operational programmes TECDEN has in place for those initial benefices to at a later date, return in various capacities of endeavour so that their contributions can further enrich the ascribed goals and mission of TECDEN?
TECDEN has a number of programs that include, ECD service provision in various ECD domains; capacity development, ECD communications; policy engagement and advocacy; documentation and research, awareness raising programs to mention a few. Of these programs, capacity building of TECDEN members has been instrumental in empowering our members to proactively engage in ECD awareness raising and advocacy at all levels. This has a target of creating mass demand for quality early childhood development services from the government and or other service providers. This does not underscore ECD service provision programs that directly benefit children and results can be measured on clear education and health outcomes.
8) As with most foreign aided projects, it is important to here and now elaborate to Shout-Africa.com exactly what percentage of investment is being used on administrative costs, task and duties as opposed to the actual practical tangible and measurable development of what TECDEN’s core values proclaim.
As you have mentioned TECDEN is built on shared values that include Respect amongst TECDEN members and value for thoughtful contributions; Strong commitment to collaboration and equity; honesty; trust; transparency; innovation and competency; We also value Effective and sustainable use of resources; Respect and value diversity; High standard of work and Commitment to information sharing and communications. Based on these values, TECDEN and its members value the aid given and is committed to investing more that 80% of resources received into tangible outcomes leaving only 20% -25% spent on administration work ,and this is what many donors insist when they engage for intervention. There is also a very good clear element of project sustainability that is built on community ownership of programs that TECDEN members undertake that bring in extra resources to run projects.
9) A corollary question to the previous one is: Can you describe to Shout-Africa.com TECDEN’s methods and procedures for measuring the target outcomes by which I here mean: do you have in place a fully transparent way in which interested outside parties can feel secure in the confidence that the expressed claims and mission of TECDEN is being satisfied?
Yes, I would like to bring to your note that TECDEN has a governing structure that goes down to the grass root level. It starts with the General Assembly that brings together all its members each every one year and the National Steering Committee which is the governing body at the National level that is supported by the National Secretariat for its operations. At the regional level, TECDEN has regional chapters that as well have Regional General Assembly bringing together all members in the region and an elected Steering Committee that is also supported by the Regional secretariat. Members from the grassroots level form a base for TECDEN governance structure which are also governed by individual organisation’s constitutions. It is through this system where members report to the Regional General Assembly. The Regional Steering Committee reports to the National Steering Committee through relative secretariats.
The upstream and downstream communication system that exists in the TECDEN governance structure is what makes our work effective and transparent. Every TECDEN member’s work is contributing to achieving TECDEN vision and mission and at the same time meeting their individual organisations’ goals.
10) Before we wrap up this brief telephone interview, as both a patriotic Tanzanian national and also the main representative for TECDEN on the ground in Dar Salam, is there anything finally Arcard that you like to inform Shout-Africa.com and our readers?
Yes , I would first of all like to thank Shout Africa for conducting this interview with TECDEN , that I believe our work and our role in advocating for the rights and needs of young children will be heard by your audience; and hope this will in turn prompt more support for ECD interventions in Tanzania. To Shout Africa, this shouldn’t be the end but the beginning of continued networking and information sharing as we believe that the information that is not shared is worthless however potential it might be. You are one of the conduits that TECDEN could use to share valuable information to different stakeholders in Tanzania, Africa and the rest of the world. To your readers TECDEN would ask then to contact us through our email email@example.com; or visit our website at http://www.tecden.org for more information. Communications and advocacy is our core activity that we see will make strong change agents for better outcomes for young children in Tanzania. Together we shall win. Thank you.
Finally it goes without saying that Shout-Africa.com robustly supports and endorses any sincere and genuine initiatives that have the expressed intention of empowering Africans – especially the young to be able to realise their latent potential and successfully navigate the myriad challenges that they will face. And by this measure, we wish TECDEN full success in future endeavours. Thank you.