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Which way toward quality education?

6th February 2013
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Editorial Cartoon

There has been a lot of criticism of the country’s education system in the last few days. It has partly focused on the insufficiency of the curriculum, with teachers pointing fingers at those officially responsible for drawing it up and some lawmakers suggesting that corruption was wreaking havoc on the system in question.

Going by experience, it would be safe to conclude that the official education curriculum in Tanzania at least at one point in time focused on developing critical and creative thinking, communication, numeracy, technology literacy, personal and social life skills and independent learning among students.

One could also safely suggest that there have since been indications of syllabi of various subjects in primary and secondary schools having been altered, apparently with a view to  helping students better cope with global technological and other changes.

And who would find cause to complain were the new syllabi to involve greater and wider use of computers and the internet as a way of facilitating or indeed smoothening not only teaching but also learning?

But one only wonders whether, were the new syllabi implemented as expected,  how many schools would have found themselves adequately equipped to absorb and benefit from the changes as many  lack computers let alone internet connection.

The nation has yet to provide enough schools with enough teaching facilities and aids such as classrooms, books, desks and laboratory equipment, all of which would be required irrespective of the type of curriculum.

A modern-era curriculum would evidently be a lot more demanding, and it is well worth asking ourselves whether we cannot afford it before deciding to soldier on.

Availability of the requisite resources is really what is most at stake here the most need here, as making adjustments to the curriculum alone cannot promise much difference in the standard of education and training offered in the country.

We need resources with which to train more teachers especially for deployment in remote parts of the country, as we have long observed that merely increasing the number of schools does not do us much good.

As part of the way forward, and for a true revolution in our education, we need to know exactly where the rain began to beat and only thereafter reconsider our strategies vis-à-vis present-day needs and demands.

Under the new thinking, we should seek to make sure that the changes do not benefit only some of our people while others are effectively budgeted out. We already have enough problems with the yawning differences between private schools and the few well equipped public schools on the one hand and the experience of the “ordinary” public schools on the other and shouldn’t be forced into dealing with more.

Whatever the case may be, though, it is of crucial importance for the Education and Vocational ministry’s annual budgetary allocations to be spent as planned. This is especially considering the shortages of basic needs most public primary and secondary schools as well as training institutions are contending with.

Changing the curriculum is essential if we are to catch up with global, but let’s first sweep our house clean by ensuring judicious use of resources, incentivising teachers, etc.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN