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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Research unveils appalling state of secondary schools

21st May 2012

A recent research conducted by the Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA) has found the authenticity of the relationship between lack of teachers and failure of students in secondary schools.

This has led to many students abandoning school while some girls succumb to pregnancy. Teachers as well find their way out of these problematic schools. Our Staff Writer reports on the awkward situation…

Journalistic research has found out that the performance of ward secondary schools would continue to deteriorate if measures to improve them are not put in place by the government and stakeholders.

Secondary schools are hardest hit by lack of enough teachers especially for science subjects, long distances to schools covered by students and lack of incentives for teachers

The findings show that girls are hard hit by the situation with nearly 50 percent of them performing poorly in last year’s National Form Four Examinations, signaling a bleak future for them.

These findings are an outcome of an in-depth research conducted by The Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA).

TAMWA, through its strategic plan 2009-2015, collaborated with media houses to do a journalistic survey on school dropouts with the aim of collecting views and opinions from stakeholders, such as Members of Parliament, councilors, parents, teachers, students, and the public in general on how best to approach problems facing schools.

In the research conducted in February this year, some 20 selected journalists from various media houses were assigned to conduct the survey, one in each region, on problems causing poor performance and drop outs in these schools.

The study was meant to establish the gravity of the problem at present, as well as assessing other hurdles, and ultimately, proposing solutions as a way forward.

According to a report released recently by TAMWA, lack of Science teachers featured out prominently in many schools in the country.

The report says for example that in Mpanda district, there are only two science teachers. In Muheza district in Tanga region, out of 100 teachers assigned to the district schools this year, only one can teach science subjects.

School girl pregnancies is still an issue. Victimized girl students end up getting married or dropping out of school.

Causes for student pregnancy, according to the report, include long distances to and from school where they are exposed to sexual maniacs, lack of life skills. Others are lack of meals at schools, renting or living in unsafe and risky settlements and enticements from well-to-do men and boys.

As for the shortage of science teachers there had been some extremes. In Kaskazini A Unguja Region one school is reported to have 12 teachers, of whom none can teach science subjects. Gamba secondary school in the same district has no single teacher for Physics, Mathematics and Chemistry.

Micheweni Secondary School, Kaskazini Pemba Region has 17 teachers, none of whom can teach science subjects. This, according to the report has been the case for the last two years.

Bahi Secondary School in Dodoma region has one Physics teacher for 376 students while Mpalanga Secondary School has one Biology teacher for 128 students.

Bariadi District, Shinyanga Region has a shortage of 226 teachers to reach a required number of 640 teachers.

One of the extreme cases is at Uling’ombe Secondary School in Kilosa District, Morogoro Region where one teacher is manning all classes and teaching all subjects from Form One to Form Four.

Most schools do not have enough classrooms. In some schools, students of different classes alternate in using the same (few) classrooms available, while some teachers have turned their offices into classrooms.

Reasons mentioned for this shortage include government negligence, society’s over-dependency on government, lack of mobilization and motivation among parents, and the parents’ financial inability.

In Kilosa district Morogoro Region , some 2,561 students selected to join Form One this year, are still at home because their respective schools do not have classrooms for them. The region has a shortage of 245 classrooms.

Coast Region has a different situation. The region is doing better than most regions because it lacks only nine (9) classrooms. This is also the same with Rombo District, Kilimanjaro Region where most schools in this district have enough classrooms. No shortage has been reported.

Many schools in Manyoni, Singida region are facing a shortage of classrooms and teachers’ offices. Ironically, at certain schools, teachers have turned classrooms into teachers’ offices.

Lack of science teachers featured out prominently in many schools. In Mpanda district, for instance, there are only two science teachers. Muheza district in Tanga region, out of 100 teachers assigned to the district schools this year, one can teach science subjects.

School pregnancy among girls is still an issue. Victimized girl students end up getting married or dropping out of school. Causes for student pregnancy include long distances to and from schools; lack of proper upbringing; lack of meals at schools; renting or living in unsafe and risky settlements; enticements from well-to-do men and boys.

As for self-realization skills no efforts have been done in this area. Except for few areas, particularly in Kilimanjaro region, many schools do not have a proper scheme of imparting ethical and values to their students as a way of positively affecting and influencing their habits and character towards fulfillment and maturity.

While it is generally agreed that such education is more relevant to girls than boys, some schools do not have female teachers, hence making girls feel uncomfortable to learn sensitive issues from male teachers.

Lack of education in self-realization has had a negative impact on the students’ life style, and is cited as a main cause for pregnancies among school girls. For instance, at Nasuri Secondary School in Namtumbo district, Ruvuma region, 26 students were found pregnant in 2011.

According to the District Academic Officer in Kisarawe, Gideon Shangwe, education in self-realization, if properly given, would help to instill discipline and check school pregnancies, drug abuse and delinquency among students; while also boosting academic performances.

Cases of school pregnancies were not properly documented, but a few cases suffice to highlight the magnitude of the problem in many areas.

In 2011, Shinyanga region recorded 51 incidences of pregnancy in various districts as follows: Bariadi (6), Maswa (27), Kishapu (20), Kahama (60), Meatu (2), Shinyanga Rural (8). As a result, all pregnant students dropped from school.

In Tabora region, 41 cases were reported in the following schools which include Hanihani (8), Mbutu (3), Nguvumoja (7), Igunga Day (3), Nanga (4), Mwakipanga (6), Bukoko (6) and Mwanzugi (4).

The report made various recommendations which include among others that the government should encourage best brains to go into teaching and put in place motivational schemes for teachers.

Instead of over-burdening the poor parents, the report recommends that the government should allocate a sufficient budget for entire educational infrastructure, including teachers’ housing, remuneration and promotion, construction of classrooms, water and communication systems, electricity, laboratories, and hostels.

Special emphasis should be on increasing a number of qualified science teachers and that construction of hostels should be mandatory for every school.

Students should not be penalized for their parents’ failure to pay schools fees or other necessary contributions, the report also recommends.

Instead of forcing every kid into secondary schools and to encourage self employment, the government should construct vocational training centers in every ward as a way of providing opportunity to students with vocational inclination, the report says.

The 20 Regions (and districts in brackets) covered under this survey include Chake Chake (Kaskazini Pemba), Micheweni (Kusini Pemba), Kati (Kusini Unguja), Kaskazini Unguja (Kaskazini), Tanga (Kilindi), Dodoma (Bahi), Tabora (Igunga), Shinyanga (Bariadi), Pwani (Kisarawe), Ruvuma (Namtumbo), Kilimanjaro (Rombo), Lindi (Lindi Rural), Mtwara (Newala), Kagera (Muleba), Morogoro (Kilosa), Singida (Manyoni), Manyara (Kiteto), Arusha (Longido), Mwanza (Sengerema), and Rukwa (Sumbawanga Rural).

The study sought to establish the gravity of problems faced by the schools, including lack of adequate and competent teachers, the quality of teachers’ settlements, self-realization skills and rampancy of pregnancies; and to suggest solutions. In every district, each researcher (journalist) was supposed to gather information from at least 10 schools.

The National Form Four Examination results for year 2011 do not augur well for a country aspiring to do away with poverty.

Almost 50 percent of the candidates performed poorly – and failed. Unfortunately, most of them were girls, especially those attending Ward Secondary Schools. Previous studies by various researchers and reports by the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training indicate that pregnancy is one of the main reasons for poor results and drop outs.

Between 2004 and 2008, a total of 28,590 students (11,599 in secondary schools, and in 16,991 primary schools) dropped out of school due to pregnancy.

As of now, the report feels that there is too much politicizing of education whereby thousands of illiterate pupils have “passed exams” to join secondary schools. In 2011 alone, over 5,000 pupils were said to be selected for secondary schools, but could hardly read or write.

Subsequently, in the event of selection of new district commissioners in the country, Tamwa has passionately appealed to the new appointees to take the issue of worsening situation of secondary schools seriously.

Releasing the findings of the research, the Executive Director of TAMWA, Ananilea Nkya asked the district commissioners to provide solutions to the acute problems in ward schools where pregnancies for school girls, drops outs, shortage of science teachers, classrooms and teachers’ residences; and lack of hostels and meals for students abound.

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