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HAVE you ever been kept waiting by a person you were planning to meet who lacked the decency to tell you she/he was running late? You made sure you were there on time despite a myriad of traffic and family jams. But the guy you were rushing to meet decides to be missing in action two hours after the appointment time.

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IT is undeniable fact that Gender-based violence (GBV) constitutes violation of the fundamental right to life, liberty, security, dignity, equality between women and men, non-discrimination and physical and mental integrity.

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A PHOBIA is an irrational fear of something and it may be described as a disease. According to Doctors in the UK, a phobia is an overwhelming and debilitating fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal.

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WE are right now in the Parliamentary Budget sessions where different ministries take stock on what they did in the previous financial year and promise new progressive undertakings for the incoming year.

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HE has struck again and this time around without a warning! A statement from the State House briefly confirmed the axing of the Minister for Home Affairs, Hon Charles Kitwanga (CK), on allegations of negligence.

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TODAY, my mind is on the effect of deafness in children. Deaf children are, indeed, quite unfortunate. Deafness has four categories. It can be mild, moderate, severe or profound.

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IN your whole life, how many people do you come across who have attained richness by winning a lottery? Probably one in a million! If that is the level of probability to win a lottery, then how many of us can sit around and wait for such kind of an event to occur?

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IN 2012 the Tanzania’s Cabinet identified six sectors known as the National Key Results Areas (NKRAs); namely education, agriculture, resource mobilization, energy, transport and water.

These were to adopt the Big Results Now (BRN) delivery methodology to speed up the realization of the Tanzania’s Development Vision 2015. The BRN strategy was adopted, and possibly adapted, from the Malaysian model of development known as the Big Fast Results Initiative.

In Africa, the methodology is also used by Rwanda and Nigeria. While the intention is perfectly good, the implementation of the methodology and particularly in the education sector, leaves a lot to be desired.

In the first place, the BRN strategy aims to improve primary and secondary school students’ pass rate by 10 per cent each year as one of its important outputs. Let me begin by declaring my worry on the success of the methodology in Tanzania, particularly regarding the central tenet of the BRN strategy – improving the pass rate.

In the first place, I want to argue that it is unfortunate that BRN has taken pass rate in examinations that seriously, as though that were the most important issue in measuring the efficiency of an education system.

It must be remembered that performance in examinations is just one way of assessing the effectiveness of an educational system. I would regard knowledge and skills to be of a more central position than simply pass rates, which can easily be doctored.

I am not denying the fact that there are other intentions mentioned by the Government as part of the implementation of the strategy. For example the Government planned to provide financial rewards for school performance; carry out early grade student assessments, which is now the Grade Two examination; provide targeted support to lagging students, we are yet to witness this; grant recognition incentives for teachers, we hope sooner or later this will become a reality; and making sure that schools get funds in a timely manner, which has started this year. Unfortunately BRN, like Education for Self-Reliance, has been misunderstood in many parts of the country.

For example, about two years ago some private schools set their pass marks at very high grades for their students. The schools held that students who would get less than the set average would repeat classes, thus assuring their schools of fees.

I know of one private primary school which required their pupils to score an aggregate average of 60 per cent. To make this a reality, students were given a lot of take-home exercises which left students with no time to rest.

Another anomaly with the BRN methodology relates to BRN mock exams set and monitored by the President’s Office, Regional Administration and Local Governments (PMORALG) famously abbreviated in Swahili as TAMISEMI.

In a speech delivered by Dr Shukuru Jumanne Kawambwa, the then Minister for Education and Vocational Training on 14 August, 2013 in Dar es Salaam, Educational officers at regional and district levels were responsible for ranking schools according to performance.

The resolutions included in the said speech by Dr Kawambwa include; pass rate at the primary school level to improve from 31% to 60%, at the secondary level of education to improve from 43% to 60%, and Grade Two pupils would be allowed to graduate to Grade Three only when they can read, write and count. According to the BRN spirit, schools which do not reach certain targets would have their head-teachers removed, and more help would be provided to such schools.

As a way of implementing the BRN initiative, continuing students in Grade VI and Form IV take BRN exams in their first term to get the general impression of how their schools would perform in their final or exit examinations. What is interesting here is that in many places these examinations are not supervised very strictly.

The preparation, which is done under the PMORALG, lacks the seriousness needed. What needs to be remembered here is that, regional and district education officers are also to be held responsible for poor performance of their schools, let alone head teachers. In that same regard, what is being done now in most of these schools is adulteration of the conduct of those BRN examinations.

The complaint by some teachers and heads of school who are committed to doing their jobs diligently is that some district educational officers instruct schools in their administrative areas to help their students answer the questions.

They tell them that they do not want their districts or regions to lag behind in the BRN grading. This adulteration makes the whole process doubtful. Consequently, to make sure that BRN is not viewed as a white elephant initiative several measures were taken, including overhauling examination results reporting criterion from the division to the grade point average (GPA) in order to conceal reality.

Through the GPA system even those whose grades were low were regarded as having done well. This is the bad side of the implementation style of BRN in the education sector. But why shouldn’t the Government decide to earnestly invest in quality improvement.

The BRN mentions very useful moves which would truly improve Tanzania’s education. For example they talk about training quality teachers, remunerating teachers well, providing schools with resources and so on.

When all these are done, performance in examinations will automatically improve without any adulteration strategies. Shortcuts are usually wrong cuts! Dr Gastor Mapunda is senior lecturer in the College of Humanity (CoHU), University of Dar es Salaam (gmapunda@udsm.ac.tz).

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It reminds me of those who say ethics should be used to inspire not intimidate. We have already experienced some leaders being too hard on others or even themselves. It is unfortunate when leaders resort to use ethics to intimidate instead of inspire.

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A friend recently commented on what he termed the good work the current president is doing in the country but in the same breath he asked if those affected by Prezzo JPM’s actions and policies will leave pi as pi. Ding, ding, ding! The bulb went on in my head.

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LIKE it or not, the greatest engine for socio-economic change is not democracy, it is the use or application of technology in our everyday lives. Consider the following case studies: Just about four years ago, when our LUKU electric meter ran out of ‘units’ we had to do the following: You get a motorcycle to get you to the main road and pay Tsh. 1,000.

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THIS week I experienced a nasty incident in Dar es Salaam city centre as I was trying to exchange some foreign currencies. Bearing in mind what President John Magufuli usually says just before TV news bulletin every evening (On the importance of asking for a receipt after making financial transactions), I asked for the same after I exchanged my money.

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WAY back in 2013, in my very usual column I hailed the efforts by the then Minister for Transport, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, on the release of two detained Zambian buses that were denied passage at Kibaha weigh bridge.

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May 8th, 2016 we celebrated Mother’s Day! As it unfolded in the social media, most people admitted to have immeasurable love to their mothers. Admitted further that their mothers were their heroes.

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Today I look at early traits of behaviour and how to influence conduct in children as they grow. I am talking about child grooming and early childhood care. In fact, it takes a good parent to make a good child.

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THE GUARDIAN Newspaper of Monday, 9th May, 2016; carried the following news item : “Following public outrage over light punishments given to grand corruption culprits, the Government is preparing a specific Bill for the amendment of the existing Combating and Prevention of Corruption Act, so that those convicted of this offence may get stricter punishments”.

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TODAY is the proverbial D-Day for the newly crowned Vodacom Premier League Champions, Young Africans Sports Club. Young Africans will today try to defend their two goal lead against Angola’s Esperanca, and what is more, they will be doing that away from home.

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WE heard last week that Tanzania ranks 117th in the corruption perception index. Usually countries are ranked according to how their public sectors are perceived. This ranking is reported by Transparency International.

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WHEN I was a bachelor boy, there was this song by Millie Small if I remember correctly, called Sugar, sugar or something like that. It went ‘sugar, sugar, oh honey, honey, you are my candy’.

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LAST week I was shopping at a supermarket in Dar es Salaam, when I witnessed a wrangle between husband and wife. While the husband wanted to buy cheese made in Tanzania, the wife also wanted to buy that commodity, but she preferred the some made in Kenya.

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THIS week, I was reading President XI Jinping’s main points on the behaviour of the market and how the government is supposed to complement and coordinate with each other to promote sustained and sound social and economic development.

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I WOKE up with a start and sat up in bed. I thought I had heard someone trying to open my door. Thieves were a nagging social menace in Kuruya. Some came from as far afield as Baraki.

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I HAVE to say at the outset that I don’t do research before writing these articles. They are never intended to be an authority on any subject but just a sharing of ideas between grownups.

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That moment when the president and commander-in-chief of the united republic does a surprise visit to your work place and you were completely unprepared. Completely.

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I have always likened our situation in this Fifth Phase government to that of “Renaissance Phase”, growing anew as if we are emerging from socio-political conflict that had divested our anticipated development for so long.

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MOTHER’S milk, like any other form of artificial immunization, protects infants from childhood illnesses, apart from being a crucial source of nourishment. In fact, breast-milk stimulates and strengthens the infant’s immunity to ailments.

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YOUNG Africans are on Tuesday expected to take on Angola’s Esparanca in the second leg of the CAF Confederation Cup play off in the Angolan capital of Luanda.

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PRESIDENT John Pombe Magufuli’s mode of dealing with embezzlers of state’s funds and corruption in general has set tongues wagging. There are those who appreciate what he does – dismissing forthwith anybody implicated in distrustful deals or suspicious loss of state’s funds - others don’t and in fact think he is going the wrong way.

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THE good but dramatic news there was last week was the election of a Muslim Londoner, Sadiq Khan, as the new Mayor of London.

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“A PRESIDENT’S Magic touch : How President Magufuli is shaping the Region’s geopolitics”. “The ‘ bulldozer’s’ refreshing stance has earned him plenty of goodwill beyond Tanzania’s boarders”.

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BY the way, did you know that the Chancellor of Dundee University in the UK is a Tanzanian, born in the humble Lindi Administrative Region in the evenhumbler Tanzania 78 years ago? Weeell... I’ll explain – with considerable help from the ubiquitous mass media organs in the public domain today!

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SIMBA Sports Club fans were on Monday and Tuesday this week reported to have called on their club leaders to resign following the team’s continued poor performance in the on-going Vodacom Premier League (VPL).

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FINANCING education is a burdensome phenomenon to governments, organisations and individuals. It has always posed a challenge to the government of Tanzania.

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