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.
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