small foundation with a big impact

views on the Tanzania school system

12-12-2018

My experiences in teaching have allowed me to observe the pros and cons of the Tanzanian educational system over the past twenty-two years and I hope to provide some insight into the realities of education and schools in Tanzania today. Overall, the national curriculum from Kindergarten until Form VI has been of a consistently high quality. In my opinion, the curriculum delivers a holistic and thorough education. There are, of course, the expected subjects of mathematics, history and science etc. however there is also an emphasis on practical life skills such as agriculture management and financial skills. I believe the curriculum is sufficient in preparing students for life after school regardless of the context that they find themselves in. Interestingly, the curriculum often reflects the priorities of the government. For example, under President Jakaya Kikwete, agriculture was a significant focus of the curriculum and now under President John Pombe Magufuli there is a big push to promote skills and knowledge pertaining to industrialisation. As the country progresses and grows, so does the curriculum. I am pleased with the innovation that often occurs within Tanzanian education due to the heavy involvement of education specialists.

However, it is also through working in a variety of schools that I have unfortunately found that the average calibre of a teacher is poor and consequently the implementation of the curriculum is often of a low standard. To study teaching at a college or university requires significantly lower entry grades than other professions and so, often those who did not gain entry to study their preferred career choice, fall into teaching, not by choice but by necessity. Thus, I have found that many teachers are not genuinely passionate or well-suited to engage and inspire our younger generations. Furthermore, many teachers do not maintain the required standard of the English language which has obviously detrimental effects on their classes who start learning broken English from their teachers from a young age. Perhaps, if we raised the entry requirements to study education, we would not only increase general cultural respect for teachers but also improve the average quality of teachers throughout Tanzania.

Meanwhile, the teachers who are already in the field, can be helped by conducting workshops on different aspects of their specializations to improve their quality of teaching. Inviting professionals for two or more weeks during holidays has brought remarkable changes in teachers at Haradali Schools for example. It is very important for teachers to accept the reality that they have weaknesses in some areas and that they need help. Some teachers are not ready to learn simply because of maintaining a superiority complex. Educating teachers on these realities can significantly strengthen the holistic learning of both the teachers and their students. Grace Y. Geffi,
Head of Haradali Winners Secondary School

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