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Form Four exam results: Need for radical change in education system

25th February 2013
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Following announcements of the Form Four results recently, there has been a public commotion, as many Tanzanians laymen and education experts denounce the results.

It was recently announced by the Minister for Education and Vocational Training (MoEVT), Dr. Shukuru Kawambwa that over 240,000 students out of 397,136 who sat for the National Form Four examinations have scored division zero, of which girls were 120,239 and boys were 120,664. This is equivalent to 60 percent of 397,126 students who sat for the exams.

Moreover, it was announced that 103,327 students scored Division Four of which girls were 64,983 and boys were 64,344. This is equivalent to 26.2 percent of 397,126 students who sat for the exams.

A total of 15,426 students scored Division three, of which 4,613 were girls and 10,813 were boys. This is equivalent to 3.88 percent of 397,136 students who sat for examination. While a total of 6,453 students scored division two of which girls were 1,997 and 4,456 were boys. This is equivalent to 1.62 percent of 397,126 students who sat for the exams.

On the other hand, a total of 1,641nstudents scored division one of which girls were 568 and boys were 1,073. This is equivalent to 0.41 percent of 397,126 students who sat for the exams.

A critical review of Form Four exams trend in Tanzania in the past five has shown that this years’ results hits the records in the history as the worst Form Four exams results in the country. Moreover, more critical analysis can show that though it was announced that 60 percent of exams candidates have failed by obtaining division zero, basing on the quality of passes and whether the exams results will provide an opportunity for students to access higher levels of education, I have opinion that all students who scored division zero, four and division three with no combination for high school, have also failed therefore, making conclusion that more than 86 percent of students who sat for 2012 National Form Four examination have failed.

Though this trend is shocking, to me it has not come by surprise due to a number of incidences which were indicators that such results were to be expected. Some of the indicators include:

(a) Few or absence of qualified teachers in most ward secondary schools;

(b) Lack of teaching and learning facilities in public secondary schools both for sciences and arts;

(c) Teachers’ grievances have not been dealt with which can result into demoralization and hence poor performance in their work;

(d) Most of Standard seven students selected into secondary schools were low achievers. With poor teaching and learning environment it is likely they will perform poorly. For example, 2013 Form one students were selected among 2012 STD VII examination candidates who have obtained grade D. This was done in order to fill in available spaces in secondary schools. However, such decisions are costing us as four years down the road, we are going to reap fruit of massive failures;

(e) Our education system has gone through a number of significant shifts and experiments which have costed time and resources for both our learners and our tax payers’ resources.

Poor results in our education system have short and longterm effects such as lack of qualified manpower to support our economic growth. On the other hand this effect may bring shock waves to our higher levels of learning-colleges and universities, as they might not be able to obtain adequate number of students to enroll them.

For example, the number of students who are required to be enrolled in Teachers grade Three certificate and form five this year is 57,893, however only 23,520 students who completed Form Four last year qualifies to be admitted into these education institutions. Therefore, there will be a 50 percent gap at the Teacher Grade Three Certificate courses and Form Five, taking into consideration that the minimum entry qualification into these education institutions is Form Four with pass at division three. We expected that 2012 Form Four graduates to be enrolled into Tertiary level of education by 2015. By 2015 there will be about 27068 enrolment spaces at Tertiary level institutions. Due to poor results in Form Four examinations I do not expect that there will be adequate qualified Form Six students to fill these spaces by 2015. 

I have written a number of times on the need for review of our education system, but I am seeing that this years’ Form Four results should be a catalyst for opening public debates on radical reforms in our education system.  So many political statements have been given, but I only have opinion that we need radical change in our education system. The reforms should concentrate on the following areas:

(a) Improvement of education budget: at least it should reach 30 percent of the national budget. Looking on levels of investment in education across East African countries, Tanzania lags behind (check EA website)

(b) Curriculum review: recently there has been a debate in the parliament whether we have a curriculum or not. I have opinion that we need to review our curriculum to reflect our needs and its relevance to our socio-economic and political development;

(c) Review of examination system: our examination system seem to assess only one type of learning domain, that is, cognitive domain. Exams also do not consider issues of multiple intelligences where by some students have talents in other aspects such as arts and sport.

(d)          Selection for teacher trainees: minimal level of qualification should be those who have passed at the level of division three. We need better qualified teachers to improve our education system;

(e)          Improvement of teaching and learning environment: there is a need to provide teaching and learning facilities and materials such as books, science laboratory equipment/ apparati, desks, and others which will make learning interesting and comfortable;

It is my hope that the government, activists and general public will take this very seriously and call for radical reforms in our education system in order to chart the way forward for our nation.

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The writer is a specialist in education planning, economics of education and policy studies. He is reached through: +255754304181 or masozi.nyirenda@gmail.com

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN