Pupil suicides: Blame leveled at family, curriculum pressure

26Jan 2022
Mary Kadoke
The Guardian
Pupil suicides: Blame leveled at family, curriculum pressure

EDUCATION stakeholders have cited high expectations from the community, including parents and a curriculum that largely rewards cramming for recent incidents of suicide by pupils who did not pass their examinations.

With parents and everybody around expecting good news and scant option for a vocational pathway for those who cannot cram and reproduce in final examinations, coupled with lack of psychological support, some pupils are pushed to take their own lives for feelings of shame, they said.


Enea Muhando, a consultant with the Tanzania Institute of Education (TIE) said that intrapersonal and interpersonal skills in education would enable pupils to manage the pressure that comes with failing exams.


“My all-time question has been what do people fail or pass? Those who pass exams do not always do the same in real life. Imparting pupils with different life skills will help them have positive coordination of thoughts, problem-solving and compassion in both happy and difficult moments,” he stated.


He recommended that the government ensure that teachers are knowledgeable in alternative teaching approaches so that they can impart skills and career pathways to pupils.


Evod Kanyaiyangiro, secretary of the Tanzania Teachers Union (TTU) in Kinondoni District, Dar es Salaam Region, said that parents’ high expectations and the resultant pressure on their children have been a cause of recent suicide cases.


He said pupils who fail to bring good news are troubled psychologically for being less worthy for their parents, teachers, relatives and the entire community.


“Parents are partly to blame for this. Their expectations are too high without considering a fact that a pupil’s performance depends on a number of factors including psychological support they get from the parents,” he said.


Dr John Kalage, executive director for HakiElimu, an activist and research organisation in the sector, said too high expectations on a pupil from parents, teachers, and society can turn a low performer suicidal.


“This is because of the false belief that passing exams are the only way to success in life,” he said, noting that each of these parties carries an ideology that investment is justified only in the outcome. What they fail to understand is that sometimes a pupil's mood or stress level can lead to bad performance, he emphasised.


Dr Idephonce Mkama, a psychologist and lecturer at Archbishop Mihayo University College of Tabora (AMUCTA) said teachers should counsel pupils before and after exams to avoid suicides.


Suicide cases are a result of despair, desperation and family pressure which make a failed pupil feel worthless “because there is no other way out after failing the exam,” the lecturer intoned.


Recently, a number of pupils reportedly committed suicide after the release of results of the Certificate of Secondary Education Examination (CSEE) which the victims performed poorly.


But in a bizarre case, a report confirmed by Butiama District Commissioner Moses Kaegele stated that a form four leaver who got division two—a good pass - hanged himself on a tree soon after the announcement of the results for failing to get division one in last year’s exams.