This article reports on the results of an Uwezo Tanzania survey assessing the performance of primary school students. The title is a bit misleading since the language in which half of the students are ‘illiterate’ is English, and not Swahili. This is still a big problem as the official language of instruction in secondary schools is English. Furthermore the report states that approximately 20% of primary school leavers are effectively illiterate in Swahili, which still could use some improvement. Full article on The Citizen‘s website
An article describing some of the unintended effects of the rapid growth in primary school enrollment that followed the abolition of school fees, including higher student to teacher ratios, overcrowded classrooms, and shortages of books. While the article states that the current teacher to pupil ratio is 1:51, I’d be interested in seeing how the ratio would break down if Standards 1 and 2 were separated from the others. There are teachers who are certified only for teaching these lower standards, but I’ve seen cases where they compose the majority of the teaching staff and, due to the lack of better qualified teachers, end up teaching the older students as well. The full article is available on the Guardian’s website.
“Government Moves to Ease Shortage of Teachers” This article discusses the shortage of teachers that is being experienced in Tanzania. A major factor in the shortage at the secondary school level is the rapid increase in enrollment that has taken place over the last few years. The article reports that the number of students entering Form I has increased from 134,964 students in 2005 to 477,554 students in 2009. This rapid increase is due to the addition of many new schools and expanded enrollment in existing schools. It would be interesting to see these numbers for previous years as well. In 2004 Hagati Secondary, where I taught, expanded the number of Form I students from 80 to 120. In addition to this, the government built or took over three or four more schools in the area from which Hagati had formerly drawn students. So I imagine that 2004 saw a great increase in enrollment as well. The increased number of students at secondary schools isn’t even fully captured by numbers given. In 2008, I believe, the government abolished the rule that students had to pass an examination in Form II to continue to study. As a result the number of students in Forms III and IV have likely increased by an even greater percentage. While expanding access to education is wonderful, it would be nice if during such expansions as much effort was put into increasing the number of teachers as in increasing the number of students. If the number of Teachers’ Training Colleges were similarly expanded at the same time as, or, better yet, prior to, the secondary school expansion, then perhaps the shortage of teachers would not be so great. Instead an already existing shortage of teachers was greatly exacerbated. I only hope that the quality of education has not diminished too much as a result. Full article available on The Citizen Website
IPP Media: Abolishing Boarding Schools At Our Own Risk This articles describes the motivations for the Tanzanian governments recent shift away from boarding schools, as well as some unintended consequences that the decision could bring. I tend to agree with the author, Issa Mcholo Omari, that it will make it more difficult for the poor to get access to quality education. As Omari stated, girls will probably be especially effected by this decision as they tend to study less while attending day schools due to the amount of chores they are given when living at home.