Tanzania Teacher Shortage

“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

Tanzania Gets Loan to Improve Science Subjects

Tanzania will get a USD 90 million loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to improve science subjects in secondary schools… Read full article at IPP Media. This funding is much needed, as the number of secondary schools has skyrocketed in the past few years. Almost all of the new schools like supplies or laboratories adequate for the teaching of science. Unfortunately, this loan will probably not address an even more pressing problem, the lack of science and mathematics teachers. Although the article mentions the training of teachers, the number of new science and math teachers in some rural districts is as few as four or five. These districts have over twenty schools. Over time the number of teachers would increase, were it not for the desire of most teachers to go on to university education, meaning even those four or five new teachers may yield a net gain of zero new teachers, as older teachers leave their posts to resume their studies. Another problem that arises is the one of teachers who are not comfortable with laboratory materials. Many teachers were not exposed to actual laboratories while they were in secondary school and so they are not familiar with them. In some schools, this means that, although supplies are present, they are not being used, due to the teacher’s lack of knowledge. Finally, loans to provide chemicals to schools are not sustainable. While I applaud the effort to promote science, I wonder who will provide more chemicals as these are used up? Some chemicals which commonly are part of the practical portion of the national exams are used quite quickly. Without a change in the way the Ministry runs the schools and provides their funding, these new chemicals will only prove to be a temporary fix.