The school year in Moshi started off strong in January and we have been busy throughout the last quarter.
Initial Testing and Evaluation of 2021 Cohort
In the months of February and March, Toa tutors observed and tested all 1,052 Standard One students in each of our 11 partner schools. These tests help us determine who needs extra support from Toa tutors in order to progress satisfactorily with their education. We categorize students into three tiers:
With this information, we will spend the rest of the school year supporting the 614 students in tiers 1 and 2 in order to help them reach their full potential. Our support will include pull-out tutoring, referral to special services, and medical referrals.
Final testing and Evaluation of 2020 Cohort
Once the last year’s cohort enters Standard Two, Toa tutors always complete a third and final round of testing to determine the progress our students made as well as whether any students need further support. Out of 355 students tested from the 2020 cohort, there were 7 tier two and 18 tier three students. This is an amazing accomplishment. We are so proud of our students for their hard work and our tutors for their unending support!
Welcome to the new year! School is back in session (in-person) again in Tanzania. Our tutors have already started observing the new Standard One students to identify any children who may need extra support from Toa as the year continues. Our observations will take 6-8 weeks and then, after a formal assessment, we will select at-risk students for our pull-out program for personalized tutoring. We expect to assess about 1200 kids from 11 schools this year. Quite a big undertaking!
In addition to the new cohorts, we are continuing to teach Standard Two students from 2020 before we assess them one last time. These students had some disruption in their schooling due to COVID-19 school closures but Toa tutors have continued to work with them, ideally minimizing any negative impacts from the long break. Our progress reports for these students will come out in April and we will be examining the results closely to learn about the impacts of this situation.
Toa is also very excited to introduce our new Executive Director, Innocent Estomih! He is helping us plan for a sustainable future. The children love him as you can see in the photos! We are looking forward to a busy and productive 2021
It has been another busy period for The Toa Nafasi Project. Schools are back in session after three months of closures due to COVID-19. Every year, we observe each new Grade One student for social behaviors, adaptive abilities, and motor skills. The students also take a test for literacy, numeracy, and cognitive skills. This year has been no different except for the unexpected break! Our tutors were able to complete testing in July and we found that 59% of the children are what we term “typically developed” and classified as Tier 1. They will likely need no extra support from our tutors to succeed in school. On the other hand, 41% of pupils could use some extra support from Toa (Tiers 2 and 3) and we will provide this assistance to them through in-school tutoring and medical/psychosocial referrals.
However, it must be acknowledged that 2020 is a year like no other. Like other countries, Tanzania closed all schools for a lengthy period of time, from March 16th to June 29th, and this interruption is likely to have some significant consequences. Although children are back in the classroom now, research shows that disruptions in school continuity can cause long-term harm to educational achievement. Thus, we are moving ahead with our regularly scheduled second assessment (six months after the first) in a small sampling of children to demonstrate this theory and will most likely continue working with the 2020 students well into 2021 due to what we assume will be an unfavorable outcome of the second assessment. We are committed to helping our students get through this difficult time and succeed in the future.
Another part of our work includes helping parents to become partners in their children’s education. Most parents and caregivers do not know about learning differences, so we are proud to have partnered with Tai Tanzania to produce a short video for families to watch and learn from. Aside from being informative, it is also moving and a pleasure to watch. You don’t even need to know Swahili to know what is going on! We think the message will really resonate with parents who perhaps did not understand their child’s different learning style or disability. Toa is so excited to have been able to collaborate with a fellow Tanzanian NGO on this beautiful project.
As with the rest of the world, Tanzania has had to adjust to a new normal in the face of Coronavirus. Primary schools have been out of session in Tanzania since March 16th, but we are excited that they will be opening up again on June 29!
During this closure, we have spent our time doing special health and sanitation workshops with our tutors and are prepping our staff with the necessary PPE to continue our important work. This was all made possibly through our generous donors who contributed on Giving Tuesday Now. We don’t know what we would do without all of you.
Once we’re back to school on June 29, we will have a lot of catching up to do. Some children will have suffered for lack of the structured classroom environment and returning to school will be a big challenge for many. As you know, Toa assesses students in March each year in order to group the students into Tier One (typically developed), Tier Two (slightly lagging), and Tier Three (delayed development) cohorts. Although we were unable to finish our testing before the lockdown began, we are ready now to hit the ground running. By the end of July, all testing should be completed and we will be able to begin our remedial and referral services from the beginning of August. As life resumes a kind of normality, we are aware that these services are more needed than ever before!
Despite the school closures, we have been hard at work analyzing our progress until now and we are excited to measure our impact on students from 2019. According to our Early Childhood Education Platform, Toa tests all incoming Standard One students a few months into the school year. Our tutors provide special remedial services to students who test below a baseline score of 80%. To track their progress, we test these students two more times over the course of 11 months. As you can see in this chart, for 2019-2020, the baseline test showed 296 students unable to achieve a passing score out of 449 tested (66%). One year later, only 13 students (3%) were unable to achieve a passing score. Our tutors and students have made impressive progress!
We are thrilled to have been recognized and honored by the Lord Mayor of Moshi, Ray Mboya. Augustino went to accept the hati ya pongezi (congratulatory document). We were nominated for the award by the headmistress of Jamhuri Primary School, Mwalimu Mashauri, for the classroom refurbishment project of her school.
In 2019, we more than doubled the number of schools in which we provide services, bringing the total to 9 public primary school sites across 8 wards of Moshi Municipality, Kilimanjaro Region. This expansion went so well that The Toa Nafasi Project’s American founder, Sarah Rosenbloom, made the decision to turn over management to local leadership. Thus, 2020 began under wholly Tanzanian direction with Deputy Director, Augustino Valerian; Assistant Deputy Director, Emmanuel Mnubi; and Tutor Leader, Hyasinta Macha. Under these local leaders, Toa Nafasi expanded to 2 more schools, bringing the total number to 11 school sites across 10 wards.
In order to handle last year’s expansion, we added 15 formerly underemployed local women to our corps of tutors. In 2020, Augustino, Ema, and Hyasinta hired and trained 4 more women to help with the new expansion, bringing the total number of tutors to 30. Providing employment opportunities such as these is an additional benefit of The Toa Nafasi Project.
Our tutors have started the new school year by observing the new Standard One students to get to know them and have a baseline knowledge of each student’s capacities and proclivities. By March, they will begin the formal evaluation process which includes an individual assessment for each child so we know which students will need the extra support.
Under local leadership, we can only expect to strengthen our partnerships in the community. All of Toa’s expansion is made possible through our strong relationship with the District Education Office in Moshi as they help to facilitate relationships with the government school administrations. Additionally, The NationalStrategy for Inclusive Education, published in 2009 by the Tanzania Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, called on non-governmental organizations to work with government bodies to achieve its inclusive education goals, and The Toa Nafasi Project has answered that call. We hope to be able to continue to do that for a long time to come!
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