EDUCATION

Compiled by Anne Samson

The quality of education
Government has published very little on education since the last edition of Tanzanian Affairs. However, opinion leaders and other commentators have provided some insight into what is happening – the publication of the Standard 7 and Form IV National Exams providing the catalyst and showing that Tanzanians are becoming more outspoken. The Guardian succinctly pointed out on 9 April that ‘rightly or wrongly, many observers argue that the quality of education and training at practically all levels is experiencing a slow but sure decline – that, particularly in public institutions of learning, the tendency now is to go for quantity rather than quality.’ Consultant Mosozi Nyirenda drew attention to the rapid change education has undergone over the past two decades. He called for stability rather than new policies every time a Minister is appointed. This contrasts to January editorials which called for a ‘major overhaul.’ University students, taking the initiative, sent Government a 90-page letter suggesting ways to reduce bureaucracy and improve the quality of university education (Guardian).

The growth of international and English medium schools has resulted in fewer parents sending their children to other countries. This suggests an improvement in the quality of education. The Deputy Minister for Education and Vocational Training, Mr Mulugo, said Government will ‘make sure that eligible pupils who complete primary school education proceed to secondary school’ and that Government will ‘expand vocational education colleges so as to enable many students to get skills and knowledge for self employment’ (Daily News). However, some concern exists over the standard of education that private institutions are providing (Guardian). Supporting this is Government’s announcement that all colleges which are not registered will be closed down (Citizen, 26 March 2012).

Prompted by the ‘nullification of 2011 national form four examination results for 3,303 students’, the outgoing Minister for Education and Vocational Training, Mr Shabaan, tabled plans for Zanzibar to establish its own examination board. According to NECTA this was due to ‘a number of bizarre incidents [which] were witnessed, including cases of blatant cheating by way of entering examination rooms armed with all manner of “missiles”.’ The conclusion was ‘little surprise in recent revelations that some primary school pupils “qualified” for secondary school enrolment when they were hardly literate or numerate’ (Daily News).

The revelation of illiteracy resulted in the Deputy Minister for Education and Vocational Training requesting the number of pupils in Dar es Salaam Primary Schools who cannot read or write (Guardian). In con¬trast, MP for Mwanga and Minister for Agriculture, Cooperatives and Food Security, Professor Maghembe, sponsored a visit for 857 primary teachers acknowledging their consistent improvement in Standard 7 national exams. 98% undertook the examination whilst 93% passed, placing the District first in regional and national tables (Citizen).

The Form IV pass rate was higher than previous years. However, according to Mr Mulugo, ‘the slight drop [in A level allocations – 31,658 in 2011 vs 36,366 in 2010] was caused by the fact that although the pass rate was better, students did not satisfy set standards’ (Citizen).

Government has been asked not to re-introduce Form II national exams as this would not benefit education. However, if they are to be introduced, they should be regionalised to assist teachers with identifying pupil progress (Citizen).

The School Calendar has been changed to enable teachers to help with the census later in the year: The new dates for 2012 are:
Term 1: 9 January – 30 March Term 2: 10 April – 22 June
Term 3: 9 July – 2 August Term 4: 10 September -14 December

Optical mark readers – The National Examinations Council (NECTA) announced that in June an experiment using Optical Mark Readers will be undertaken for Standard 7 examinations before they are used in the end of year examinations. The readers allow papers to be marked more quickly with less risk of human error, but require answers to be made on special paper and in a particular manner. Concerns are that there will be insufficient time to prepare pupils, that uneven desks could cause the answer papers to be damaged and that examinations will only be multiple choice. (Mwananchi)

Summary of other news items

President Kikwete requested the Masasi District Commissioner to conduct a house-to-house search identifying how many Standard 7 leavers have not reported to secondary school, following evidence that 35.6% of 12,843 registered students had not yet enrolled. Similar figures were registered in other districts (Citizen).

Eighty teachers in Singida District stormed Council Offices demanding their salaries which had not been paid for two months, apparently due to issues with employment forms. (Guardian and Sunday Citizen). Similar situations concerning 50 teachers in Mbozi District, Mbeya Region and Hai, Kilimanjaro Region were reported (hakielimu.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03; Daily News, 4 April).

Government’s decision to build one VETA college in each district has been lauded. The African Development Bank will support the first 28 (Guardian).

Mbeya Institute of Science and Technology (MIST) has begun the final phase for upgrading to University status (Daily News).

A new holistic Tanzanian educational website, somatanzania.org, was launched during March, although it currently has limited content (Citizen).

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