A seat at the table

The road to the National Multi-Sectoral Early Childhood Development Program

Better Way Foundation has been supporting early childhood development efforts in Tanzania for over a decade, focusing on local organizations primarily in the Mwanza & Kagera regions. Our investments help partners build culturally grounded programs through knowledge sharing, capacity building and resource development.

We also recognize our ability to help amplify the voices of our local partners so they can influence national debate and elevate government commitment to early childhood education. This has long been a focus of Better Way Foundation, but it was not until the revitalization of the Tanzania Early Childhood Development Network (TECDEN), that we began to see some real progress.

TECDEN was a unified voice for the non-profit early childhood sector before it largely ceased activities in 2015 due to administrative challenges. Our partners felt the void it left and asked us to help revitalize it. Together, guided by our partners’ deep understanding of the needs and opportunities in Tanzania, we went to work on rebuilding network. At the suggestion of our partners Amani Girls Home and TAHEA-Mwanza, we sought the help of Children in Crossfire Tanzania (CiC), a respected organization with deep roots in the ECD sector in Tanzania, a track record of effective engagement with national policymakers, strong alignment with our values, and a clear vision for the initiative.

Through a series of BWF grants to Children in Crossfire, the team developed a stronger, clearly defined TECDEN infrastructure to influence early childhood policy. Soon after, Tanzania’s government developed a national early childhood task force and invited TECDEN to co-lead it, with several other Better Way Foundation partners participating as members. This task force created the National Multi-Sectoral Early Childhood Development Program, which the government officially launched in December 2021. The program reflects an ambitious agenda of raising standards for the coherence of national policy, committing an ambitious budget for systemic change, and delivering a significantly expanded range of coordinated health, education, and related services to children and families. It holds great promise for making significant improvements for Tanzanian children and their caregivers, and represents a broad national and international coalition of support.

Our support of the TECDEN revitalization efforts gained attention, influencing a new $3.4 million commitment from our peers at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. This will accelerate CiC’s and TECDEN’s work to build on recent progress and continue to grow TECDEN’s influence and impact.

The road to get here took unwavering dedication on the part of our partners in Tanzania. By listening to our local partners, we succeeded in making important investments in a critical civil society institution, leading to real progress in bringing expanded early childhood development services to children across Tanzania.

Every day, our partners are finding a better way. I am overwhelmed by the impact they have made and cannot wait to see what lies ahead.

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