by Naomi Rouse
Education PS Dismissal draws mixed reactions
Education stakeholders were shocked by the announcement that Dr Ave Maria Semakafu had been sacked by the President after she announced that the Ministry of Education planned to abolish the certificate level qualification for pre-school and primary teachers, in a move to upgrade teacher expertise and therefore education quality.
Prominent education stakeholders spoke out in support of the Dr Semakafu and felt that she should not have been dismissed for the announcement, because it was not news and would have been part of the ongoing Ministry work plan.
Teachers’ union representatives expressed concern about how teachers nearing retirement would be able to respond to the new requirement.
How Covid-19 impacted education
The Tanzanian government closed schools in mid-March when the first case of Covid-19 was discovered. UNICEF estimates that a quarter of a billion students in 120 countries around the world had their education disrupted.
The Ministry of Education responded with educational programmes on TV, radio and in the newspapers, and educational experts congratulated the government on quickly innovating to deliver education through this medium. However, rural students were left behind, some not knowing about the initiative, or unable to access it.
Schools and universities had put in hygiene measures and were urged to hold awareness raising sessions for students on the opening day. (The Citizen)
Shock as urban public school lacks resources
Despite being located in the wealthy Oysterbay area of Dar es Salaam, renowned as an area for highly paid expatriates and senior government officials, The Citizen was shocked to learn that Oysterbay Secondary School suffers from a shortage of learning resources. The situation has contributed to poor academic performance. At a ceremony to hand over 311 textbooks donated by Oysterbay Rotary Club, the Board Chairman also thanked Kinondoni Municipal Council for its donation of 32 million which enabled the school to renovate classrooms. (The Citizen)
Fires: sorry state of schools’ readiness
On 14th September 2020, 10 pupils boarding at Byamungu Islamic Primary School in Kyerwa District, Kagera Region lost their lives during a fire in their dormitory, and seven were seriously injured. This was the fourth school fire in less than three months, following fires at Dar es Salaam’s Ilala Islamic School, Kinondoni Muslim Secondary School and Mivumoni Islamic Secondary School, also in Kinondoni District, Dar es Salaam and Istiqaama, in Tabora.
A random survey conducted by Success found that few schools had fire extinguishers and staff trained to deal with fire, and teachers were concerned that there was little they would be able to do with overcrowded dormitories, if a fire broke out. Tanzania fire regulations require that boarding schools have fire detectors and extinguishers, but in practice very few schools comply.
Tanzania Association of Managers and Owners of Non-Government Schools and Colleges (Tamongsco) Chairman, Leonard Mao raised concerns that there were sinister forces behind the fires, as in the spate of fires before the 1995 election. “This is an election year. Investigations should look behind the cartel as these kinds of tragedies happened in the run-up to the 1995 General Elections where at least 29 schools, including Shauritanga were razed down by fire. That year it was discovered that there was more than just technical fault or infrastructure challenges.” (The Citizen)
91% of passed students selected to join secondary school in 2021
A total of 759,706 students who passed primary school this year have been selected to join secondary schools in 2021, announced the Minister of State in the President’s Office for Regional Administration and Local Governments. 368,174 of the selected students were boys and 391,532 were girls.
Qualified students who did not secure in a place in the first round, will be offered a place by February. The Minister of State said nine regions of Kagera, Katavi, Lindi, Mtwara, Mwanza, Njombe, Ruvuma, Songwe and Tabora have successfully accommodated all qualified students to join Form One in the first phase.
“I call on regional leaders and councils to work with education stakeholders to complete the buildings and prepare the environment to receive selected students to start their studies in January 2021, without any restrictions of any kind including contributions, to implement the free education policy requirements,” he directed. (The Citizen)
Magufuli promises 26 new science schools
At a campaign rally in Mbeya in October, President Magufuli unveiled ambitious plans to create 26 specialist science schools – one in each region, and offer training in maths, science and language to 20,000 specialised teachers.
The government will also connect 1,500 secondary schools to the internet to promote IT. He said that he was delighted that investment in the education sector is paying off, as evidenced by the recent Form IV results where six public schools are in the top ten nationally. (Daily News)
Prioritisation of education of very poorest improves attainment of all
International development projects that target the education of the world’s very poorest children and marginalised girls also significantly improve other young people’s attainment, according to new research that suggests that such initiatives should become a priority for international aid.
New research conducted by academics from the University of Cambridge demonstrated the “spill-over effects” for all children. Using the work of Campaign for Female Education (Camfed) in Tanzania, the study found that every $100 spent per disadvantaged girl resulted in learning gains equivalent to an additional two years of education for all girls and boys at those schools.
Professor Pauline Rose, Director of the Research for Equitable Access and Learning (Real) Centre at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge said: “while it may cost more to reach the most marginalised pupils, the impact of those efforts is far more impressive than we tend to imagine. This research explains why system reforms should focus on those who need the most support. Education systems that function for the most marginalised children function for everyone.”
Impact was calculated by comparing the English test scores of children from 81 randomly-selected Camfed-supported schools with children from 60 control schools that received no support. Scores were collected at the start and end of the two years, and the team used data about the children’s socioeconomic background to make direct comparisons between pupils from similar settings. For every $100 spent on each of the marginalised girls targeted with Camfed’s programme, English learning outcomes improved by the equivalent of an extra 1.45 years of schooling for all pupils. (Daily News)
Good News: More girls enrolled in schools
Tanzania should rightly celebrate the achievement that more girls than ever before are enrolling in and completing school, especially compared with independence in 1961. However, we should remember how much needs to be done in order to tackle gender-based violence and early pregnancies, to ensure a safe learning environment for girls. (Daily News)