Form 4 examination results (mirror at maktaba.tetea.org) were released on February 14 and articles describing the announcement made by the government have been printed in several newspapers (See References). The Executive Secretary of NECTA declared that the pass rate for 2014 national examinations was 68.33%, a 10% increase from the previous year. This pass rate is just shy of the government’s Big Results Now (BRN) goal of a 70% pass rate this year.
While this may look like an improvement, and was presented as such in the articles, a closer look at the numbers reveals that student performance decreased. The total number of students who passed the national examinations fell from 201,152 in 2013 to 167,643 in 20145. The increased pass rate isn’t due to improved performance by the students, but rather the result of a significantly smaller number of students sitting for the examinations. While the group of students who finished in 2014 entered O-level with a larger class than the previous year, they were required to pass their Form 2 examinations in order to continue to Form 3. Many of their classmates were forced to repeat Form 2 or end their studies after failing the examinations. The students who finished in 2013 didn’t have this condition so most of their class continued to Form 4 and sat for the examinations. The figure below shows the stark difference in the transition between Form 2 and Form 3 for the classes of 2013 and 2014 (examination statistics are from 5 and enrollment numbers from 6).
The government has been using the pass rate (the number of students who successfully pass the examination over the number of students who sit for the exam) as the metric to define school performance and the health of the education sector as a whole. However this doesn’t seem to be a good statistic when comparing the O-level results from the past two years since the attrition rate before Form 4 was so different.
Contrary to the announcements in the press it seems that the CSEE examination results have deteriorated this past year. In the U.S., one of the measurements used to evaluate schools is how many students graduate after 4 years. Looking at the CSEE results in this way paints a different picture. In addition to fewer people passing the examinations in 2014 than in 2013, the numbers also show a drop in the percentage of students who successfully complete O-Level. Looking at last year’s exams, 45.8% of students who started Form 1 in 2010 went on to pass their Form 4 exams. For this year, the percentage dropped to only 35.9% of students who started Form 1 going on to pass their Form 4 exams. This represents a drop of nearly 10%.
While people may point to the increased pass rate as a percentage of students taking the exam as evidence that BRN is working, the increase in pass rate can be traced back to the 2012 decision to only permit students who pass the Form 2 examination to join Form 3. The truth, however, is that there are more students who are not finishing their secondary education then there were a year ago.
1. Notable Improvement in Form Four Results, Daily News↩
2. Shule Binafsi Zatesa Matokeo Kidato cha Nne, Mwananchi↩
3. Matokeo Kidato Cha IV: Shule za Serikali, Seminari, Vipaji Maalumu Zaporomoka, Mwananchi↩
4. O-level Results: Girls, Private Schools Shine, The Citizen↩
5. Ufaulu Kidato cha Nne 2014 Wapanda kwa Asilimia 10, EATV↩
6. 2013 Basic Education Statistics in Tanzania, retrieved from moe.go.tz (currently undergoing maintenance)↩