Students in Tanzania missed 3.5 months of school due to COVID-19, causing us to realize our programs are in need of an upgrade to respond to the special challenges these children are now facing. Therefore, this Giving Season, The Toa Nafasi Project is seeking support for our special needs students affected by the pandemic through two significant interventions: 1) Learning and Testing, and 2) Health and Hunger.
"The greatest impact of Covid-19," New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof stated, "may not be on those whom the virus directly infects but on those shattered by the collapse of economies and health and education systems in developing countries." This simple truth concerned us at Toa Nafasi since research shows that disruptions in school continuity causes long-term harm to educational achievement, and increased impoverishment in the household affects the littlest members the most.
When schools reopened, we resumed our usual testing and tutoring, but recognized the need for improvement. We observed more truancy, hunger and illness, and behavioral unrest among our students. Thus, Toa Nafasi will technologize our methods of assessment and evaluation to better track their development, and initiate food support to ensure that children receive some sustenance before a lesson. Our #GivingTuesday 2020 addresses empty stomachs as well as hungry minds left behind by the pandemic.
The project will ensure that incoming Standard One students do not fall behind in school by measuring their progress over the course of the academic year and making sure that other needs - such as nutrition, health checkups, and therapy - are met. In 2020, Toa Nafasi assessed over 1000 students for social, adaptive, behavioral, and cognitive skills and we expect the needs to be even greater in 2021.