EDUCATION

by Naomi Rouse

New report highlights effects of free learning
When authorities introduced fee-free education from primary up to Form IV of secondary school, they expected the teacher-pupil ratio to double, from 1:50 to 1:99. But a new study by HakiElimu shows that Grade One enrolment in Dar es Salaam has in fact tripled, with an average of one teacher for 164 pupils.

Unlike previous measures to abolish fees, this move was not accompanied by a teacher recruitment drive. HakiElimu raises concerns about the impact this is having on the quality of education.

The study was conducted in 56 schools from seven districts randomly selected to achieve geographic representation. It aimed to understand implementation of the fee-free basic education policy, and stakeholders’ views on its impact on teaching and learning.

HakiElimu found that there was confusion between basic education and free education, and only 44% of headteachers understood the policy. Receipt of capitation grants was varied, but overall, primary schools received less than they were expecting, and secondary schools received more. Education stakeholders asked the government to respond with a full strategy to address the challenges highlighted in the report. (The Citizen)

Only 27% of Form IV candidates qualify for high school
National Form IV exam results released in January show a modest (2.5%) improvement on previous year’s results. 408,372 students sat the exams, and 70% passed with Division I – IV. However, only 27% of candidates achieved good enough passes (Division I – III) to proceed to Form V. Gender disparities are clear in the results. 51% of candidates were girls, reflecting the progress made in increasing girls’ enrolment. However, girls’ performance lags behind. Only 67% of girls passed (with Division I – IV), compared with 73% of boys. A greater disparity is seen in the higher grades, with only 22% of girls achieving Division I – III compared with 33% of boys.

Results were annulled for 126 candidates who were accused of cheating.

The top 10 schools nationally are: Feza Boys, Shamisiye Boys, Thomas More Machrina, Marian Boys, Marian Girls, St. Aloysius Girls, St. Francis Girls (Mbeya), Kaizirege Junior (Kagera), Kifungilo Girls (Tanga) and Anwarite Girls (Kilimanjaro).

Alfred Shauri (Feza Boys), expressed disbelief and excitement at coming top in the Form IV exams, saying he had worked hard over time, and carefully following the instructions of his teachers. Given his strengths in science, his friends and family are urging him to become and engineer, but he is keen to pursue business and entrepreneurship.
Top girl Cynthia Mchechu, was also overwhelmed with joy, and aspires to become a lawyer specialising in real estate, recognising the lucrative housing market in the country. (The Citizen)

Dar es Salaam achieved its worst results for several years, with 6 of the worst performing schools being from Dar. As head teachers were summoned by the Regional Education Officer to account for the results, some came out publicly out to defend their position, blaming results on factors beyond their control such as long distances, truancy, and shortage of teachers. Other teachers declined to comment, with one saying “I am totally confused with these results.”

One teacher remarked that it was difficult for the calibre of students who were enrolled at the school to pass due to their low pass rates in their Standard Seven examinations. In another school, most students live almost 20 kilometres from the school, which was cited as making it difficult for teachers to monitor students’ behaviour after school hours.

Mock results had also been poor, prompting District Executive Directors to write letters to heads of schools to ‘pull up their socks’ to avoid negative outcomes in the final exams. (Daily News)

Sexual abuse and corporal punishment ‘widespread’ in Tanzania’s schools
Human Rights Watch report calls on UK and other aid donors funding ambitious education programme to put pressure on government to halt abuses. The report found sexual abuse, harassment and corporal punishment to be widespread in schools in Tanzania. The report also found that more than 40% of adolescents in Tanzania were left out of quality lower-secondary education, despite a decision to make this schooling free.

The report, “I Had a Dream to Finish School”: Barriers to Secondary Education in Tanzania, picks up on compulsory pregnancy tests in some areas and expulsion of pregnant girls, as well as the widespread use of “brutal and humiliating forms” of corporal punishment. The report said female students were exposed to widespread sexual harassment, and that male teachers in some schools attempted to persuade or coerce them into sexual relationships.

Tanzania is one of Africa’s largest recipients of aid, and DFID is set to spend £150million on education in Tanzania between 2013 and 2020. HRW called on the UK government to leverage its donor position and call on the Tanzanian government to urgently address the most critical issues exposed in the research, particularly corporal punishment and sexual abuse. (UK Guardian)

Students protest the transfer of their headteacher

Students at Bariadi School assist their fellow student suffering the effects of tear gas (Simiyu news blog http://www.simiyunews.com)

More than 600 students from Bariadi Secondary School, Simiye Region, blocked the main road holding up community activities for several hours in a protest against the transfer of their head teacher. Students tried to march on the District Executive Director’s Office but were prevented by police.

Students had been refusing to enter class since the day before when the transfer of their existing head was announced, saying they did not want to let him go because he was hard-working. They carried banners refusing the new head, and threw rocks at the police before the police arrested and beat some students and released teargas to disperse them. The District Commissioner visited the school to calm the students and asked them to return to class, as their request was granted and the head would not be transferred after all. (Mwananchi)

Government orders submission of pregnancy report
The Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu has ordered the Director of Children to supply a report on pregnancies within one month. Schools are legally required to report the number of schoolgirl pregnancies on a quarterly basis, with head teachers facing possible imprisonment for non-compliance, but Ms Mwalimu challenged colleagues to ask who had followed up to see that reports were actually being submitted as required. She emphasised the importance of following up, to ensure that laws to protect girls from early marriage and pregnancy are being enforced. While stakeholders often point the finger at parents, she held institutions responsible for not following up on implementation of the law, which requires stiffer penalties for men found marrying or impregnating schoolgirls. Tanzania has one of the highest child marriage prevalence rates in the world and according to the 2016 Tanzania Demographic Household Statistics (TDHS), one third of all girls in the country were married when they were still children. (Daily News)

7,000 tertiary students risk expulsion
The Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU) has reviewed student eligibility and published the names of 7,000 students who have been found to have been admitted into programmes that they don’t qualify for. The named students have one week to prove their academic credentials, or risk expulsion. 52 higher learning institutions across the country are affected. (Daily News)

Loan recovery drives up collections
New procedures for deducting loan repayments from salaries have successfully increased collections by the Higher Education Students’ Loans Board (HESLB). Monthly collection has increased from Tsh 3.8bn to TSh 12bn, with the total amount collected over 8 months standing at TSh 49bn. With the new measures, the board is optimistic of further progress, stating “If we proceed with this trend, we are certain that by June we will have collected TSh 100bn for a period of one year since the campaign started. Previously, the board used to collect that amount in ten years”. At the annual rate of TSh 100bn collections, the board will be able to finance the loan issuance budget by between 20 and 25 per cent. Currently, the government funds almost the entire amount required to lend to students from its budget.

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