CBP Executive Secretary ,Pilli Dumea
Children's Book Project (CBP) for Tanzania has challenged the entire process of how textbooks are written and published in the country alleging that they do not fit with the ‘real Tanzanian context’ and are the cause of the collapsed education standards.
CBP criticised many books written, published and used in schools claiming that they do not meet educational qualities.
No specifics were provided as to which qualities are in reference here but nonetheless advice was readily ushered.
“…the books needed for pupils must be accompanied by pictures, big writings and full of stories…,”CBP suggested.
Their vision is that of reader friendly books, colourful, large fonts, and many interactive pictures that will make reading exciting to children and subsequently cultivate a reading culture.
To achieve this, CBP advises that authors be trained how to write in simple understandable language.
CBP Executive Secretary Pilli Dumea said at the Quality Education Conference (QEC) organised by Tanzania Education Network (TEN/MET).
The meeting brought together different education stakeholders to convene on the standard of education in the country. It was held in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
Dumea also pointed out that there is a serious lack of required books in schools and that, even in areas where books are available, the schools don’t have access to them due to a serious lack of fund.
“…there is growing awareness on the importance of provision of standard books and learning materials in order to achieve quality education. However, there are a number of challenges in respect to book provision…,” she insisted.
That is not the only ailment plaguing the very sick educational system that saw more than half the candidates fail their 2012 national Form Four exams (only 177,021 candidates, out of 310,826 passed) but also the fact that even in cases where books are available at the schools, personnel lack the skills and knowledge to get the best out of those books.
“…teachers don’t have the experience and confidence to use the books in the classrooms…more effort is needed to improve the teachers’ ability as well as the content…” Dumea advised.
“…if books are to realise their potential to contribute to better learning outcomes in schools, then we need to address the challenges across the continuum from availability to use…,” she asserted.
The CBP Executive Secretary added that research indicates that moving from a teaching environment with few or almost no books to one where books are used to support teaching and learning requires new skills and confidence on the part of teachers, students and even the parents.
Schools also need support and training to ensure they store and manage their book collections to the best effect.
Without a proper storage and recording system, there is a real risk that the book collection will deteriorate or be misused.
CBP further advises that, effective book provision in schools includes also community involvement whereby an agreed system for storing and retrieving the books is established as part of participatory and child-centred approach to teaching.
TEN/MET coordinator Cathleen Sekwao challenged that the current primary education curriculum is overloaded and puts too much of a burden on the pupils to learn so much in such a short time defeating the very purpose of the books as the pupils learn less under such pressure.
As an example, Sekwao said that Standard One pupils formerly were studying only three subjects, reading, writing arthmetics compared to eight subjects tought today.