NCCR-Mageuzi national chairman and nominated legislator James Mbatia displays documents at a press conference in Dar es Salaam yesterday when elaborating on his recent remarks on the situation of education in Tanzania. With him is Faustine Sungura, who holds the opposition party’s campaigns and elections portfolio. (Photo: Correspondent Elizabeth Zaya)
Education stakeholders yesterday gave mixed reaction on the poor Form IV National Examination results with some saying they reflected the government’s poor response to challenges facing the sector while others proposed formation of a special team to investigate the mass failure.
Speaking to The Guardian in separate interviews yesterday, the stakeholders appealed for immediate intervention from the government to rescue the country’s education sector from further deterioration.
NCCR-Mageuzi National Chairman James Mbatia told reporters in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the results announced by the ministry are a national disaster resulting from poor education system.
He said the current national education system does not provide favourable learning environment especially for students in public schools, noting that students should not be blamed for the poor results.
“We need to come up with a workable mechanism to address this, otherwise our education standards will continue to decline…people should do away with their political differences and hold public debates focusing on addressing the challenges facing the sector,” he said.
The lawmaker urged President Jakaya Kikwete to form a special team of Education Experts to investigate the mass failure and come up with recommendations to improve the situation.
The challenges are said to be; poor teaching and learning environments as well as lack of appropriate national primary and secondary education curriculum.
Education stakeholders criticised the national education policy of 1995, saying it does not meet the current demands.
For her part Susan Lyimo Shadow Minister, President’s Office, Public Service Management said the government needs to do more by addressing the shortage of teachers and improving their work environment.
She said the majority of teachers are disappointed with the way the government has been dealing with their demands.
Lyimo who is also a teacher by profession said despite the efforts by Tanzania Teachers Union, activists and legislators to press the government to give special attention to issues affecting the education sector, the government has turned a deaf ear.
“We all know that the government has been training a number of teachers who are competent. The problem will never be solved if their working environment remains stagnant …teachers reporting to marginalized places deserve special treatment,” she noted.
She added that the results are shocking and have left many with unanswered questions, like how young Tanzanians will manage to compete in the East African employment market.
Meanwhile, Uwezo Tanzania an initiative supported by Twaweza which deals with assessing literacy and numeracy levels in East Africa, have expressed their disappointment with the results, naming it ‘a National education crisis’.
Zaida Mgalla, country coordinator for UWEZO Tanzania said, “If the government does not deal seriously with this poor performance, the country should expect great disaster from the next examinations results.”
She said the mass failure of students could be due to poor relationship between the government and teachers, noting that teachers are not motivated and teaching environment is poor.
She noted that the poor results could also be linked to poor performance of pupils in standard seven national examinations.
“Most of them cannot read or solve simple arithmetic… so how could they perform wonders in Form IV?” she asked.
“We can assess these results to establish whether the pupils who passed to go to secondary schools were the right candidates by looking at their Form IV results,” she said.
When contacted Elizabeth Missokia Executive Director for Haki Elimu said: “The issue is critical; therefore we cannot jump into it now. We will release a statement later.”
Professor Milline Mbonile from the department of Geography at the University of Dar es Salaam said the teachers’ strike could not have contributed to the mass failure.
He said the ratio between teacher and students could have contributed to the poor results but not to the extent of the current results.
He suggested that retired teachers be employed in ward secondary schools to improve performance.
The National Form IV examinations results released on Monday by the Minister of Education and Vocational training Dr. Shukuru Kawambwa showed that over 240,000 students out of 397,136 or over 60 per cent, who sat for the examination scored division zero.
Announcing the results, Minister Kawambwa said that the students have performed worse compared to those of 2011when 225,126 candidates or 53.37 per cent of the 450,324 students who sat for the examinations, passed.
He attributed poor performance in public schools to lack of science and mathematics teachers and shortage of teachers for other subjects, lack of laboratories and libraries and shortage of books.