Program-Coordinator Stella Aloyce Mollel is all smiles when she informs about the pre-school programme of the Catholic Archdiocese of Arusha.
As of December 2019, there are 117 established pre-schools in five districts: Longido, Monduli, Simanjiro, Arumeru and the Arusha area. Since the inception of the project in 2001, the astonishing number of 26,238 children went to pre-school, 187 pre-school educators were trained. A total number of 27 preschool buildings were constructed and well furnished. Starting as an Assistant Coordinator in 2005 and being a Coordinator and in charge of the programme since 2013, Stella Aloyce Mollel witnessed the program to grow, prosper and become a success story.
Motive to initiate this programme was the fact that the need for access and quality preschool education in the rural Maasai areas was very strong. The government and other education stakeholders were not in a position to cater to the educational needs primarily of the Maasai native people. Due to their qualitative nature, nomadic lifestyle the children were not sent to school or the distances to reach one were simply too far. The Archdiocese took up this responsibility with the first school being built in 2003 in Monjere - Monduli, starting with 72 children. Basis for their curriculum is the LOA, the Life Oriented Approach.
What does LOA mean?
Developed in the 70ies for German kindergarten, the program was adapted and introduced to Tanzania in 1997. The children learn within their environment, their parents and the community. They start at the early age of three and, depending on their maturity, stay one to two years until they start with primary school. By then, they’ve learned a lot: in addition to cognitive, physical, emotional and social skills, they know how to create materials themselves e.g. colours from nature, working with locally available materials but also how to handle hygiene and deceases like malaria or diarrhea.
The success rate is 75 %, and there a quite a few stories of students where this program formed the basis for their future life.
But it does not stop there. Ms. Stella and her colleagues take special pride in the fact that LOA is not an isolate program of the Archdiocese, but became an integral part of the Tanzanian Government’s national curriculum and syllabus for pre-school-education.