by Ben Taylor

New education policy
The government has officially launched a new Education Policy. National examinations for primary school leavers will be abolished, and “compulsory basic education” will be extended to include four years at secondary level. This means that students will sit their final examination after 11 years in primary and secondary school, School fees for public secondary schools will be abolished. The use of different text books will also be abolished, with a single textbook for each subject.

President Kikwete said the new policy was in line with Vision 2025 and takes into account global economic, social and technological changes. “In the next seven years, we will have built capacity whereby every child who starts Standard One will reach Form Four.”

It has been widely reported that the policy makes Kiswahili the medium of instruction from primary school to university level, thereby ditching English —which has dominated Tanzania’s education system from secondary to tertiary level. However, the policy also states that the use of English as medium of instruction will continue. [For more on the apparent change in the language of instruction in secondary schooling, see separate article in this issue.]

O-level results announced
The National Examinations Council of Tanzania (Necta) released the 2014 Certificate of Secondary Education Examination (O-level) results showing that performance has improved by 10% since 2013. Private schools dominate the list of best performers and no public school appears in the top ten.

297,365 students registered for the examinations and 196,805 (68%) passed. In 2013, 235,227 students (58% of those who sat the exams) passed. Performance varied greatly between subjects. 69.7% of those who took Swahili passed, more than in any other subject. Only 19.6% of those who took Mathematics passed.

The grading system has changed from the previous division system, where pupils were assigned to Division I, II, III, IV or fail, based on their performance across seven subjects. The new grade point average (GPA) system follows other changes introduced in 2013, which reduced the exam scores required to achieve a grade A from 81% to 75%. A meaningful comparison of exam results from 2013 and 2014 with results from earlier years is impossible. (The Citizen)

Early years learning
The Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda, launched a national programme to raise the level of reading, writing and numeracy skills among Standard One and Two pupils. Commissioner for Education Eustella Bhalalusesa said the programme will attract TSh 150bn – to be injected directly to education funding. All preparations for the programme, including the syllabus for Standard One and Two and the teacher’s guide, are com­plete.

The programme is being financed by the Global Partnership for Education, the UK Department for International Development, UNICEF and USAID. (Daily News)

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