Archive for Education


by Ben Taylor

Are children learning?
Only 1 in 5 children in the third year of Primary School in East Africa have acquired the literacy and numeracy skills expected of children in the second year. This was the main conclusion of the latest annual Uwezo survey of learning outcomes among primary school-age chil­dren in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.

The survey also found that only 24% of children completing seven years of primary schooling have mastered Standard 2 reading and numeracy skills.

Mbeya Urban district in Tanzania was the best performer, but Kenyan districts outperformed the region in overall assessment. Most Tanzanian districts ranked in the middle – below Kenya but above Uganda.

The survey found that poverty was a major factor in learning outcomes, with children from wealthier households performing substantially bet­ter than those from poorer households.

Data was collected on learning outcomes, school conditions and house­holds in 2013, including testing of over 325,000 children aged 6 years to 16 years in 150,000 households in 366 districts.

Shortage of space in Form 5 as O-level results improve
Around 16,000 students will miss out on places in Form 5 this year as record numbers achieved qualifying grades. Of just under 200,000 stu­dents who sat for O-levels, over 70,000 qualified for A-level admission. However, there are only 55,000 spaces available.

An editorial in the Daily News described the situation as “a colos­sal waste”. “It is high time the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training and other responsible stakeholders seriously addressed this problem of shortage of Form Five slots in public secondary schools. Frankly speaking, something must be done – and fast – to find a solu­tion to this very challenging situation.”

This is the second year for such a shortage to emerge, following a major change to how O-level candidates are graded. The new grading scheme, introduced from 2013, substantially lowered both the standard required to achieve a grade in each subject and the number of subject passes required in order to qualify for A-level entry.

Parents prefer English
A new survey by Twaweza, a non-governmental organisation, found that 89% of parents said their children found it difficult to switch from Swahili as the medium of instruction in Primary School to English in Secondary School. When asked what measures should be put in place to address this challenge, 63% stated that Primary Schools should adopt English as the language of instruction.

In contrast, the new Education Policy, launched earlier this year, signi­fied a shift to make Swahili the language used through Primary and Secondary schooling.

Death caused by caning reignites debate on corporal punishment
The death of a Secondary School pupil in Kiteto district, after he was punished for failing a Swahili test, prompted a fresh debate on corpo­ral punishment in Tanzanian schools. The boy, a Form 2 student, was reportedly given 12 strokes of the cane by his teachers, after failing a Swahili test. He died soon after.
“We have for years urged the government to abolish this form of pun­ishment in schools because it’s against children’s rights, but we have been ignored,” said Dr Hellen Kijo-Bisimba, Executive Director of the Legal and Human Rights Centre.
Coordinator of the Tanzania Education Network (TEN/MET), Cathleen Sekwao, said local NGOs, UN agencies and others have been campaign­ing against lashes to no avail. “Though we want the punishment elimi­nated, communities are letting us down because some parents think caning a child is the right thing to do.” (The Citizen)



by Ben Taylor

As part of the recently launched new education policy, the Tanzanian government announced that the language of instruction in secondary schools would switch from English to Swahili. The change has drawn both criticism and support from commentators. The following are excerpts:

Dr Aikande Kwayu
The emphasis on Kiswahili as the language of instruction (in addition to properly teaching English) is a wise move highlighting the true spirit of Tanzania. Research and literature has it that the language of instruction should be what is spoken at home – in our case, Kiswahili. Teaching our kids in Kiswahili will improve learning for the masses.

Ali A. Mufuruki, Chair of CEO Roundtable, Dar es Salaam
The changes were not made in good faith, nor was enough preparation done to make sure all systems are in place. We are going to put current and future generations of Tanzanians at a disadvantage from which they will not be able to recover easily. The arguments made by the proponents of the new policy are devoid of logic and paint a picture of a people who have very little or no understanding that we live today in a globalised world, where Tanzanians do not have the luxury of being able to create their own reality that can be kept safe from the effects of competitive forces that are a dominant feature of today’s life.

The change may be nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction of policy makers to the steadily falling pass rates at both primary and secondary schools over the past twenty years and is therefore a wrong solution to the problem. Just as you cannot cure a gangrene wound by applying aspirin to it, you cannot turn around Tanzania’s failing education system by replacing English with Swahili as a medium of instruction. I am very curious to see if those responsible for this policy change are going to move their children from the private English Medium schools to the Kiswahili-only public schools where the rest of the country’s children go.

Prof. Kitila Mkumbo, University of Dar es Salaam
The decision to recognise and promote both Kiswahili and English languages in teaching and learning seems to have been reached as a compromise to please the two sides of the debate. As a consequence, I can bet that English will continue to be used as a medium of instruction because it still is largely associated with ‘being learned’ and because it is much more available in the literary world than Kiswahili. Furthermore, the case for Kiswahili as a medium of instruction has always been made on the basis of cultural activism and romanticism, rather than on solid evidence-based scholarly discourse.

Prof. Karim Hirji
The manner in which the issue language of instruction is being posed and discussed is a diversion from much more fundamental issues. The primary requirement for Tanzania is to have a genuinely sustainable, implementable and integrated economic policy (agriculture, industry, commerce, transportation, services and communication). The nature of the education system (at all levels) has to reflect and be embedded within the context of that policy.

In the present foundational condition, it is possible to utilize either a national, local or foreign language to achieve the goals of imparting effective, high quality education and raising the standard of living, health status and general level of well-being of the broad masses of the people. And in the absence of such a foundational condition, you will end up with a mass of unemployed, unemployable youth (including graduates), generalized poverty and social unrest.

Whether you know your physics well in Swahili or English is immaterial so long as you are out in the street having nothing to do. Even a bilingual system of instruction is feasible in that context. Just consider the history of education systems and nations throughout the world and you will see the validity of my assertions. Let us not discuss the issue of language of instruction in isolation from that of economic policy and the nature of the education system as a whole.

Personally I am in favour of utilization of Swahili as the medium of instruction throughout the East African Community. But given the chaotic, fragmented and externally dominated economic policies that prevail at present, I do not think that goal is easy to achieve. Whatever language we use in schools, our streets will be flooded with semi­literate, literate and well-qualified youth selling socks and what not.”

Chambi Chachage, PhD Student, Harvard University
We all want Tanzanians to be fluent in English and Kiswahili – and, if possible, other languages too, both local and foreign. How can we achieve that when we are “backward” as far as such bilingualism – let alone multilingualism – is concerned. I took Mathematics in both O-Level and A-level in English but some of our teachers used Kiswahili when they realized we did not understand them. We could communicate – and understand each other – easily in Kiswahili by saying, for example, ‘diferentieti’ and ‘intagreti’, which were our own ‘Swahilized’ versions of the English words. For us what mattered was communicat­ing and understanding.

I support the usage of Kiswahili as the language of instruction simply because it facilitates communication relatively more easily and con­nects with our environment. At the same time I support the effective teaching of English as a second language to make us really capable of using it. What we now have in the classroom is what language experts call ‘subtractive bilingualism’ in contrast to ‘additive bilingualism’. Put simply, the former makes one end up knowing little Kiswahili and very little English, but the latter makes one gain both ways – Knowing more Kiswahili as well as English. More significantly, the former subtracts knowledge and the latter adds knowledge through effective communication. So, why should we get ‘lost in translation’? Let us teach English and teach in Kiswahili. Both can be done.

Biyi Bandele
Until every single mathematical theorem and every single theory in astrophysics and cosmology, [and] in medicine and chemistry, and in every single sphere of knowledge, is written or available in translation in Kiswahili and Igbo and every other African language, I personally will always reject and abhor that easy [and easily comforting, xenophobic language] that dresses itself in the ultimately empty and cheaply sentimental rhetoric of noble nationalism.

Richard Mabala
People who advocate the use of Kiswahili are not saying that Tanzanians have failed to master English. We are saying that if people do not have enough English to start with in secondary school, to use it as a medium of instruction is self-defeating as they do not have enough language to address other subjects. In fact we are saying that if they are taught English well, they will have better English than if it is used as a medium of instruction.

Why are those who argue for English prepared to continue putting the majority of our students today … not tomorrow, not in 25 years time … through four years of not understanding what they are taught. Everyone knows that language alone is not the issue – there are many, many more – but it is the point of entry to comprehension of whatever little teaching they may or may not get.”



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)



by Ben Taylor

Secondary School fees to be scrapped
President Kikwete announced in August that his government plans to waive school fees for public Ordinary Level secondary education. This will mean Tanzanians receive free education both in primary and secondary school, save for the last two years of Advanced secondary education. The president made the announcement at a meeting with students and staff of Mzumbe University in Morogoro Region. “At the moment we are working on scrapping school fees in all public second­ary schools as a way of ensuring that every child who joins standard one reaches form four.”

Government changes policy on school books publishing
The government has resumed producing and publishing school text books after claims that private firms have failed to produce quality materials. The duties will now be handled by the government itself through the Tanzania Institute of Education (TIE) from September 2014.

Announcing the Minister of Education’s decision, Commissioner for Education Eustella Bhalalusesa said “Following the policy changes, the Tanzania Institute of Education (TIE) will produce and publish text­books (one book for every class and every lesson) for Early Education level, Primary, Secondary and Teachers’ Training”.

Primary School exam results
The National Examination Council of Tanzania (NECTA) on Wednesday announced improved performance by 6.3 % for Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) held in September.
NECTA Executive Secretary Charles Msonde said that of the 792,122 pupils who sat for the examination, 451,392 passed. The pass rate in 2013 was 50%, which rose to 57% this year.

Drop in Form Four entry
The number of students sitting the National Form Four Examinations has dramatically reduced from 427,679 last year to 297,488 this year as a result of many students having repeated in Form Two. Deputy Minister for Education Jenista Muhagama said that the decline was a result of restoring the Form Two National Examinations which at one point had been cancelled. It is expected that more candidates will sit for the 2015 exams to fill this year’s gap.



by Ben Taylor

Form 6 exam results surprise
Form 6 (A-level) exam results for 2014 were released in July, showing record high pass rates. The pass rate for all candidates was 96%, up from 87% in 2013. Those who achieved the best passes – Division 1 – numbered 3,773, up ten-fold from 325 the previous year. 27% of candidates achieved Division 2 passes, up from 12%.

Representatives of the Tanzania Teachers Union (TTU) greeted the results with some scepticism. Ezekiah Oluoch, TTU Deputy Secretary General, called for the results to be investigated, arguing that the input was very different from the output. ‘I’m finding it very difficult to believe the results, majority of schools have no science laboratories, plus we are currently experiencing a shortage of over 5,000 science teachers for Form Five and Six level. We need to inquire a number of things, like the kind of standardisation used this year and the nature of the questions asked. Also was the marking system and grading “massaged”.’

The much-improved results are possibly linked to the introduction of a new grading system. The scores required for Grades A, B, etc. have been lowered. But students now need a better combination of grades in individual subjects in order to achieve Division 1, etc.

Previously, a score of 81% or higher on a particular exam was required to achieve Grade A in that subject, now a score of 75% is sufficient. In past years, a score of between 60% and 80% achieved a Grade B, while now a score between 50% and 75% achieves that grade. For an overall Division 1 pass, 9 points (Grade A=1, B=2, C=3, etc.) from three subjects used to be required.. This has now been reduced to a maximum of 7 points for Division 1. (The Citizen)

Low employability of university graduates
A survey of employers across East Africa has found widespread dis­satisfaction at the employability of university graduates. The study, by the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA), polled employers in five countries.

In Tanzania, the study found that 61% of graduates lacked basic job market skills, compared to 63% in Uganda, 55% in Burundi, 52% in Rwanda and 51% in Kenya.

The report claims that the quality of university education has fallen as student numbers have risen, blaming the lack of adequate teaching staff. (The East African)



by Ben Taylor

Criticisms of form 4 exam results
The National Examinations Council of Tanzania (NECTA) released exam results for last year’s form 4 exams (O-levels), showing a 15% increase in the pass rate (58% of students who took their exams in November 2013 achieved a pass, up from 43% of those who took their exams in 2012).

However, education sector analysts described the new results as misleading. Elizabeth Missokia pointed out that the exams were graded under a new system that lowered the marks required in order to achieve a pass. “The government is fooling the public by claiming that results have improved,” she said.

The new grading system includes an A which previously ranged from 81-100 but can now be obtained if a student scores 75-100, the government also introduced a B+ which ranges from 64-74, B:50-59, and C:40­49. “If we could put these results into the previous year’s grading, I can say that no improvement has been attained,” noted Dr Mkumbo of the University of Dar es Salaam.

The government-owned Daily News called for “heads to roll” at the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training. “A critical self examination is needed at the Ministry, especially the department responsible for secondary schools,” they said in an Editorial. “It borders on the criminal to keep poor children at school for four years just to have them get poor results.”

Rakesh Rajani, an activist who heads the Twaweza organisation, faulted the Continuous Assessment (CA) process, which contributes 30% of the candidate’s final marks. He argued that evidence shows that CA is most of the time not objective and usually highly inflated. “In two out of seven subjects you could be given 80% in your CA and get only 10% in your exams; and get absolutely zero in your other 5 subjects, and still pass,” he said.

The secretary general of Tanzania Association of Managers and Owners of Non-government Schools and Colleges (TAMONGSCO) Mr Benjamin Nkonya said that there is no way the country can take pride from the results.
“Truth is, the learning environment in most of the public schools is bad. There are no libraries, no books, no laboratories, teachers are demotivated, many of them incompetent. There is no way we can have good results in such a situation,” he said. (Daily News, The Citizen)

Teacher retention challenges
The government has admitted that despite considerable costs incurred in educating primary and secondary school teachers in the country, a good number of them are not practising their profession.
“Teachers have been a favoured group in various education aspects such as admission in universities and in securing loans from the Higher Education Students’ Loans Board (HESLB),” said Prof Eustella Bhalalusesa, Commissioner of Education in the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training.

Prof Bhalalusesa said a good number of the employed teachers do not stay at their stations for long. “They just report and go for other jobs,” she said, adding that the ministry has taken it as a challenge and was working on it.

The President of the Tanzania Teachers Union (TTU), Gratian Mkoba, argued that poor housing, low salaries, lack of social services and infrastructure are among the factors forcing many teachers to leave their job for greener pastures. He said trainee teachers get TSh 10,000 as a daily allowance, but when they graduate they receive less than TSh 10,000 per day or less than TSh 300,000 per month. “This frustrates them, making them quit their jobs in search of other activities or jobs”, he said. (The Guardian)

BAE radar “change” begins to reach schools
The majority of the text books purchased using the refund from the bungled radar purchase have been distributed to primary schools across the country.

British defence company, BAE Systems, paid Tanzania £29.5 million (TSh72.3 billion) after it sold an obsolete and overpriced military radar to the country, as part of a settlement reached with the UK Courts and Serious Fraud Office.

It was agreed that TSh59.7 billion would be used to purchase books, TSh12.2 billion to buy desks while TSh367.2 million was set to be used for monitoring and auditing. Over 85% of the text books have now been distributed, according to officials from the Prime Minister’s Office for Regional Administration and Local Government.

Cambridge charity supporting vulnerable children in Gairo district
Villagers from Gairo district in Morogoro region have a reason to smile after the Cambridge-based Campaign for Female Education (Camfed) introduced a new programme to support vulnerable children from poor families to access best education from primary to tertiary level.

The Director of Operations and Finance for Camfed Tanzania, Msaada Balula, said educating girls is the best way to help a community to alleviate poverty, noting that educating them is the most effective strategy to ensure the well-being of children and in the long run economic development.

Camfed’s ‘Comprehensive Bursary Support’ will cover all costs related to their secondary education from school fees to textbooks and other costs. According to Balula, the value of the support will depend on the need and poverty level of the supported children.

He said that since Camfed began operations in the country in 2005, a total of 21,592 students have been supported to access education and remain in school from primary to university level.



by Steve Lewis

“You can’t study if you’re hungry” is a new report by RESULTS UK, looking at how the Government of Tanzania is addressing challenges related to early childhood development. The report focuses on the impact of undernutrition on the education and learning of children.

Two UK MPs, Mark Williams and Cathy Jamieson, accompanied by RESULTS UK staff, took part in a fact finding delegation to assess how undernutrition and limited access to education were impacting the abilities to achieve their potential. The visit also looked closely at how UK aid is supporting Tanzania to make progress on these issues.

The report states that in Tanzania, 42% of children under five are chronically malnourished (stunted) whilst 5% are severely malnourished (wasted). Undernutrition can lead to permanent physical and cognitive damage that can impact a child’s performance in school. While Tanzania has experienced steady economic growth over the last few years, economic growth on its own is not sufficient to reduce undernutrition. The report recommends that the Tanzanian government, supported by donors like the UK, should invest directly in nutrition programmes to effectively achieve nutritional outcomes.

From meetings with Tanzanian MPs and Government officials there appears to be strong political leadership for addressing Tanzania’s nutrition challenges, although coordination among multiple ministries is a concern. The report urges that this high level political commitment is matched by better collaboration among agencies and an increase in resources to allow nutrition to become a priority throughout all ministries and districts. This is essential for ensuring that nutrition outcomes improve. In the long term, the governments of both the UK and Tanzania should advocate nutrition becoming a distinct priority in the post-2015 development framework.

In Tanzania, a lack of essential nutrients in the average child’s diet is one of the key determinants of undernutrition – it is not necessarily a lack of food, but a lack of nutritious and varied food. Lack of nutrients and vitamins can be mitigated through the fortification of staple foods such as flour and salt. The Tanzanian government has recognized the cost effectiveness of this method and has, with the help of the UK government, invested in fortifying flour. The report recommends Tanzania expands on this by fortifying other key staple foods, such as maize.

Tanzania has made very strong progress in getting children into primary school, and the net enrolment of children is now at 95%. However, many children are marginalised by ‘under the counter’ school fees and classes are often overcrowded because of the lack of trained teachers. The delegation visited a teacher-training college, which is supported by UK aid, and saw how important this was.

It is important that the UK government continues its support to teacher-training in Tanzania, supports teacher recruitment and works closely with the Government of Tanzania ensure that the teaching profession is valued, with salary and conditions to reflect this.



by Anne Samson

Primary school exam results
On 4 November, the National Examinations Council (NECTA) announced the Standard VII results. These showed that half of the pupils who sat this year’s primary school examinations had passed; this was an increase of 20% compared to last year. The pass marks for the core subjects were low: Mathematics 27%, English 33% and Sciences 46%. 427,606 out of 844,938 candidates scored above 100 out of 250. 13 pupils had their results nullified due to cheating, compared to 293 last year.

This was the second year of electronic marking. NECTA had sample papers to check for accuracy, which showed that the computer marking was more accurate than manual marking. Other benefits included 16 days of marking compared to 30 days and 300 staff were used in comparison to 4,000 in previous years. (Citizen)

O-level results
The 2012 Form IV exam results remain in the news as the report of the Prime Minister’s special commission is not yet in the public domain. The Citizen reported on 22 October that outdated questions, poor marking, inadequate time, lack of testing skills among those tasked to set exam questions and the removal of national Form Two exams in 2009 were among the key factors that caused the massive failure during the 2012 Form Four national exams. The next day MPs were calling for the release of the report, which had been handed to Prime Minister Pinda in June. Professor Sifuni Mchoma, who led the enquiry and has since been appointed Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, stated that the challenges facing education are due to “poor performance by workers at the Ministry of Education …. teachers’ problems and school curriculums”. (Daily News, Citizen)

In November, the Government announced that a new system of grading would be introduced for secondary school students. The final exam will count for 60% of the final result with 40% determined from continuous assessment or coursework. The changes were implemented with immediate effect on the day Form IV students started their exams. 15 marks out of the total 40 will be earned from the National Form Two Examinations and 10 marks in Form Three, with two terms each generating five marks. During the Form Four mock examinations, students can earn up to 10 marks, with the other five marks from the project, thus completing the 40 marks for course work.” (Citizen)

“Big Results Now”
The World Bank has promised to support the Tanzanian government in improving the quality of primary and secondary education through its “Big Results Now” initiative. The US $100 million “Programme for Results” will start in 2014 and run through to 2018. The funding will be used for training teachers, ranking schools according to performance and providing incentives to schools. (Daily News)

Other News
An initiative to improve education, sponsored by Samsung as part of its “Tanzania beyond Tomorrow” programme, will support children between the ages of 3 and 9 in learning Kiswahili. It is called Tichaa and engages children to learn the words of common objects.

In September, it was estimated that 10,000 teachers faced deportation from Tanzania as they were working illegally. (Citizen)



by Anne Samson
[All extracts from The Citizen except where noted]

Fallout from Form IV examinations
The re-marking of the Form IV examinations, conducted in May, resulted in a small improvement in the pass rate. The proportion of candidates classified in Divisions 1-4 rose from 35% to 44% (from 126,847 students to 159,747). The enquiry organised by Prime Minister Pinda into the poor examination performance is still to report its findings publicly.

The Tanzanian NGO Twaweza conducted a survey of 2,000 people after the Form IV results were released. The research revealed that 32% of respondents had not heard of the Form IV results, and that the absence of textbooks and teachers not attending classes was the cause of the poor results. Even if teachers did attend class, they handed out an assignment and left without teaching. It concluded that ‘the government and teach­ers were to blame’.

The Legal and Human Rights Centre 2012 report found that the quality of education was deteriorating and that there was ‘an acute shortage of teachers’.

The deputy minister for education has called for the re-introduction of corporal punishment. This has been criticised by Save the Children and the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance.

There is concern that some of the four hundred Division IV students who have places in overseas colleges may not be going to bona fide uni­versities. Those who failed the recent exams should have access to edu­cation to improve so as not to be caught out by institutions only inter­ested if they can pay. Ten thousand Form V places have not been filled as a consequence of the poor results. Only students achieving Division I to III can progress, with those getting Division IV being allowed a resit, and some schools have reportedly had to close.

Form VI Results
On 3 June it was announced that of the 51,611 candidates who sat the examination, 87.85% passed. Of these, 35,743 achieved between Division I and III to qualify for university entrance. The success was attributed to the ‘sheer determination, self-motivation and focus’ of the students to overcome the inadequacies of the facilities available to them.

Higher Education
The Higher Education Student Loans Board (HESLB) has blacklisted more than 68,000 graduates for defaulting on their loan repayments and forwarded their names to the Credit Reference Bureau. (

The Vice Chancellor of Teofilo Ksanji University, Mbeya, was locked in his office during July as students demanded the ‘release of money meant for their practical training’ which was due to start after the completion of their examinations. The delay in the release of funds was apparently due to the late payment of the fees by the Higher Education Students’ Loan Board.

Education budget
The government announced in June that it had spent TSh76.4 billion on textbooks for primary and secondary schools as part of efforts to improve education. Capitation grants of more than TSh82 billion had also been disbursed, TSh60 billion for primary schools and TSh22 bil­lion for secondary schools.

In December 2012 there were 171,986 primary and 51,469 secondary school teachers of whom 27,693 (13,633 primary and 14,060 secondary) teachers were newly employed. Teachers were being sent to “far-flung areas” through various initiatives, but a shortage of science teachers remains. TSh20 billion has been set aside for teachers’ houses across 40 district councils.

Despite the issues surrounding education and expectations that there would be an increase in the education budget, a decrease of 4.8% was announced, with TSh690 billion being allocated compared to TSh724 billion last year.

Teacher education
To address the shortage of teachers, agreements will be entered into with other countries in the East African Community. Tanzania needs at least 26,000 science teachers but the universities only produce 2,200 teachers with degrees and diplomas each year.

The government will introduce training for head teachers and introduce a professional board for teachers.

A 3R (reading, writing and arithmetic) assessment will be introduced in grade 2 and teacher training to ensure students master basic skills in early grades. This is part of the Big Results Now initiative. (Daily News)

The Public Service Recruitment Secretariat discovered, after receiving a tip-off, that almost 700 applicants for public service jobs had sent in forged certificates during 2012/13.

MP James Mbatia (NCCR-Mageuzi) accused the government of not hav­ing a national curriculum in place for primary education. This has led to a heated debate amongst interested parties. A small survey in Kigoma Region by The Citizen revealed “a number of setbacks to primary school education foundation in the country”. The consensus appears to be that education has been affected by politics with the result that educators are not consulted about changes. The quality of textbooks was identified as a further issue.

Education materials
The Education Materials Approval Committee (EMAC) was disbanded in early June because of corrupt practices. It will be replaced with “another strong organ”. All textbooks approved by EMAC will be reviewed “to ensure any mistakes were corrected”. Mbatia is calling for “those responsible for the mess” to be prosecuted.

School inspectorate
A parliamentary committee has suggested that government introduce an independent education inspection agency charged with ensur­ing quality education in both primary and secondary schools, as the Education Inspection Department had “failed to effectively perform its duties” due to the lack of adequate financial resources. The committee suggested that TSh10 billion be set aside for inspection purposes in the next financial year. In 2011/12, 3,061 out of 7,200 targeted primary school were inspected (42.5%) and 935 out of 2,100 secondary schools (43.3%). The failure of the inspectorate was part of the cause of the 70% failure rate in education over the last ten years.

The ministry of education has suggested that schools be ranked using the Leaving School Examination results from primary and secondary and that a school incentive schemes be introduced to improve educa­tion.



After publication on February 18 of results showing that almost two thirds of students had failed in the Form IV (O’level) secondary school examinations, President Kikwete felt the need to assure the public on radio that education remained at the top of his administration’s list of priorities. He said that his government was touched by the massive number of failures. “It is a shock that, even schools with a well-known history of good performance such as seminaries, privately owned as well as old government schools, performed so dismally…we have to find out why,” He said that various analysts had pointed to reasons for the failure, but that his government would not rely on hearsay. He had therefore asked the Prime Minister to set up a Commission of Enquiry. He noted that the Commission would help the government and other stakeholders to take decisive measures early so as to avert further prob­lems in the future.

Mr Kikwete allayed fears that there was a lack of political will to improve the quality of education in the country, saying: “That is why we allocated about TShs 3.6 trillion in our budget specifically towards the education sector.”

Form IV results from 1999 to 2012 (source &  (These figures exclude pupils who registered but did not attend examinations)

Form IV results from 1999 to 2012 (source & (These figures exclude pupils who registered but did not attend examinations)

‘Worst in Tanzania’s history’
The results were the worst in Tanzania’s history with only 35% of the 367,750 candidates who sat the Form IV exams in October 2012 achieving a pass – a substantial drop from the previous year’s 54% pass rate, itself well down on previous years.

There have been similar downward trends in Standard VII results and the Primary School Leaving Exam, where the pass rate dropped from 57% in 2011 to 30% in 2012. Uwezo surveys of literacy and numeracy since 2010 have painted a bleak picture.

But it was these Form IV results which saw the greatest outcry, and within days there was a buzz of activity with numerous committees investigating what needs to be done.

Summary of results
The National Examination Council of Tanzania (NECTA) records four levels of student performance – Divisions I, II, III and IV. Detailed results were as follows:
Division I: 1,641 students (0.4%)
Division II: 6,453 students (1.8%)
Division III: 15,426 students (4.2%)
Division IV: 103,327 students (28.1%)
Failed: 240,903 students (65.5%)
(these figures exclude students who registered but did not attend the examination)

Education Minister under fire
Mwesiga Baregu, a civics professor at Saint Augustine University of Tanzania, was quoted in the Somali newspaper Sabahi as saying that Minister of Education Shukuru Kawambwa should resign. “If the min­ister is a leader with integrity and responsibility regarding education in this country, he should resign without waiting for pressure from outside. If the minister refuses, President Kikwete should fire him.” Freeman Mbowe, Chairman of the Leading opposition party CHADEMA, said he had organised several public rallies since the examination results were announced to pressure Kawambwa to step down.

Retired secondary school teacher Yusuf Halimoja, 79, was quoted in the media as saying that the education system had declined because well-educated people no longer wanted to be teachers. “I started teaching in 1953. At that time, you could not become a teacher without a first or second class [ranking]. Because of this, teachers were respected and knowledgeable…But nowadays, the first, second and third class [rank­ings] pursue other professions and those with fourth class are sent to teach. That is wrong.”

Cartoon by Gado - reproduced with permission

Cartoon by Gado – reproduced with permission

The Commission
Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda’s 15-man Commission of Enquiry is led by the Executive Secretary of the Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU), Professor Sifuni Mchome. Its remit is to understand why the Form IV results were so poor and to make recommendations to prevent this happening again.

The NCCR-Mageuzi MP, James Mbatia, refused to join the group feeling it “might create a conflict of interest as he is still pursuing the private motion on the education sector he submitted in parliament” in February. He highlighted the errors in various Government-approved English textbooks as evidence of “deficiencies in the country’s educa­tion system and the alleged corruption encroaching it”. Other areas which needed addressing were the policy framework, curriculum (there were questions over its legality) and the “dire lack of teachers”.

The Prime Minister said the Commission would work for six weeks starting on March 4 to review past performance, consider a rescheduled examination for failing students and to determine whether the transfer of educational operations from the federal to local governments contrib­uted to the poor results.

At Tanzanian Education Network (TEN/MET)’s Quality Education Conference in early March to discuss the “standard of education in the country”, the Children’s Book Project reiterated Mbatia’s concern about the quality and management of textbooks and called for authors to be trained in writing appropriate texts for teachers and pupils. Cathleen Sekwao of TEN/MET expressed concern about the overloaded primary school syllabus. “It puts too much of a burden on the pupils to learn so much in such a short time defeating the very purpose of the books as the pupils learn less under such pressure.” As an example, Sekwao said that “Standard One pupils formerly were studying only three subjects, reading, writing, arithmetic compared to eight subjects taught today.”

The concern about education has led to the release of some significant statistics which give the background to the exam crisis.
– 1,640,969 the target for Standard 1 enrolment in 2004
– 1,368,315 the number of children who were actually enrolled
– 272,654 the enrolment shortfall, which was attributed to “massive enrolments in the first year of PEDP of 11 to 13-year-olds in grade I”
– 3 number of known suicides linked to the Form IV results
– 15,283 new teachers targeted by local authorities (no year given)
– 10,788 Grade IIIA teacher trainees enrolled in teachers’ colleges
– 10,037 number of these in government teachers’ colleges
– 751 number of these in private teachers’ colleges.
– 4:1 Pupil:book ratio in standard I-IV
– 6:1 Pupil:book ratio in standards V to VII
– 8,000 number of pregnant girls who drop out of school each year, leading to a call for sex education to be introduced into schools

Efforts to improve education
Tanzania is already making considerable efforts or planning to do so in different parts of the country to improve education:

In Mid-February, the Parliamentary Committee responsible for educa­tion invited Village Education Project Kilimanjaro to share its findings and recommendations on improving English in Tanzania.

The New Original English Course (NOEC), recently updated with all explanations and instructions in the teachers’ books now in Kiswahili, was featured on various breakfast talk-shows and in the press. The course covering Standards III to VII ensured that pupils were suffi­ciently fluent in English to continue their later studies in English and is seen as an immediate practical solution to rescue the education system from the ‘intensive care unit’.

115 students across 48 schools in Temeke District have benefited from funding by the Parastatal Pension Funds (PPF) through the ‘Education Benefit’ programme which is granted to children of any PPF member who passes away during their service period”.

On 11 October 2012, Salma Maoulidi contributed a piece to the Daily News on how education today compared with that of the 1977 constitu­tion which set out to remove the class divide amongst Tanzanians. She concluded: “There is no Minister, Principal Secretary, MP, RC or DC who sends his or her child to a ward school. If national leaders, who make and implement policy, don’t want to subscribe indeed to poli­cies they pass or swear to uphold why should the common person be expected to stomach the same?’

In launching the new Annual Teachers Awards ceremony, Chairman of the Education and Expedition Agency Association, Emmanuel Mjema ‘challenged the government to provide direct financial incen­tives to teachers in public and private schools countrywide so as to help improve the education standard.’ The first ceremony was on 25 November (Guardian 23/11).

Mauritius is to introduce student exchange programmes with Tanzania and other African countries as a way to enable them to obtain interna­tional experience.

St John’s University has managed to curb cheating by assuming that any cheating starts with leaked papers by the person who sets the paper. The Vice Chancellor noted that there should be no negotiation as cheat­ing was a serious crime which was harmful to academic pursuit and detrimental to the country.