It has been 56 years now since Independence, and the Quality of Tanzanian education is still questionable. Our education reforms have truly been quantitatively impressive, but without a clear set of desirable results and lack of focus on outcomes, it has rendered our tremendous works useless. The reasons for this failure call us to understand clearly what the pillar for an effective education in our consistent pursuit of quality education is.
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Currently, Education has been an easy campaigning subject in almost all political rallies in Tanzania, so it’s even easier imagining it as the most privileged sector. Since the policy “Education for Self-reliance” of 1967, both the purpose and the significance of education in Tanzania were fully realized in our nation’s greatest fight against poverty, ignorance and diseases. Colonial Education System was strategically exploitative, discriminatory in nature and blended with the capitalist elements of the west, all these contradicted the “Ujamaa” thoughts of the Ambitious J.K. Nyerere, which soon necessitated the transformations inclined by the Arusha Declaration of 1967. The education provided by Tanzania for the students of Tanzania must serve the purposes of Tanzania (J.K. Nyerere, 1967).
Education is the learning process through which acquisition of knowledge and transfer of skills is a primary objective. An education system comprises of a formalized and institutionalized system of learning in a country, according to edglossary.org, “education system generally refers to public schooling, not private – extremely complex and multifaceted by nature and so, is their reforms”. In Tanzania, the first and massive education reforms where those started in 1967, enrollment was the first area impacted by the reforms, a total of 825,000 and 25,000 Children joined primary and secondary schools compared to 490,000 and 11,832 of 1961.
The Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) of 1986 and the Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF) ten years later transformed us to a liberal economy, which also was to affect the role of our education system. In the Capitalism Ideologies the sole purpose of education is employment, whether this employment is self or non-self, optimum employment captures all the reasons for education in a capitalist society. And now as capitalists, we can measure the performance of our education system on the basis of employment. According to the Integrated Labor Force Survey (ILFS) 2014 Report “Out of the economically active (84.5 percent) of youth population of 14.8 million persons, only 11.0 million (88.3 percent) persons are employed and 1.5 million (11.7 percent) are unemployed”. By examining the educational attainment of the working population aged 15+, only 1.3% attended university, 1.8% Tertiary, and 3.0% Vocational Training, 15.7% Secondary education, 61.3% Primary education and 17.0% Never attended any.
Considering these statistical analyses in assessing the degree of contribution of our education system toward employment, it’s not true that our education system has totally failed to sell its graduates to the labor market, but with university level contributing only 1.3% of the total employment in our country; it proves a very high inefficiency in doing that job.
The following are the main reasons for why our education system has failed to efficiently and effectively sell its graduates to the labor market.
Accentuation of quantity over quality in interpretations of education policies which leads to putting greater focus on inputs rather than outcomes. The impressive achievements of PEDP 2002-2006, and SEDP 2004 demonstrated the willingness and capacity to transform our education. Enrolment in primary education nearly doubled from 4,839,361 in 2001 to 7,959,884 in 2006, in secondary it nearly tripled from 99,744 in 2003 to 243,359 in 2006. In terms of infrastructures, more than a thousand new government secondary schools were built between 2003 and 2006; and the number of secondary schools has increased from 1,083 in 2003 to 2,289 in 2006 (Hakielimu-Working papers 06, Rakeshi Rajani). in all these tremendous statistics, our intimate quest is “Elimu Bora”, which can be realized when we focus on the outcomes and not on the inputs, example- ‘building more schools, only emphasis on teaching more persons and not on teaching them well’. Most of government quantitative actions barely align with the quality intended and socially perceived from it promises, therefore producing more graduates with low competency which can’t be sold at the labor market.
Pressing greater emphasis on the discovered knowledge than on the discovery of knowledge, making it incompatible and irresponsive to any dynamic society. In the year 2005, Tanzania switched the 1961 Content-based curriculum, with a Competence-based curriculum. According to Komba and Kira (2013), the old curriculum was ineffective as the graduates failed to demonstrate the skills and competences that fully addressed local, national and global market demands. The Curriculum of 2005 was intended and socially perceived that its graduates would demonstrate huge competencies and skills meeting the labor market demands at all levels, but that wasn’t the effect. Every integral part of our education system still emphasis more on discovered knowledge which is content-based than on the discovery of knowledge which is competent-based. The examinations are multiple-choice, and in large part measure regurgitation of facts (Rakeshi Rajani, Hakielimu Working papers 06). In the study of Komba & Mwandanji (2015) “since its introduction (the competent-based) teachers still focus on developing content with the hope that the learners would develop the intended competences automatically”. With such cases where Curiosity isn’t ignited, Ideas are limited, and evolving challenges not clearly explored, then graduates will be limited to what has been done.
Internal inefficiency of Tanzanian education system which results to the provision of incompetent persons to the labor market. Assessing an education system’s internal efficiency entails comparing the number of students who access the first year of the cycle with those who reach the final year of that same cycle in the timeframe usually imparted. No longer allowing students failing the Standard IV exam the opportunity to repeat, coincided in 2009 with a significant drop in repetition, from an average of 12 percent repeaters over the decade to 2.4 percent in 2009 (Education Sector Analysis, 2011). Well, by the government banning repeating, it simply labeled a problem “not a problem” which in fact the effects of it would still haunt the graduating classes even at labor market. In the year 2009 there were 1401559 students who joined secondary school, but only 397,126 students who sat the 2012 National Form Four exams, and 61% failed, 34% received division four, meaning only 6% passed the exams (twaweza.org, 2013). Causes of such inefficiency are many; inadequate and irrelevant training facilities, tools and equipments, recruitment of unqualified teachers added with poorly motivated and unsatisfied employees are some of the key.
Weak Institutions limits the absorption capacity of the labor market while liberal market exposure stiffens the chances of employment for locals. The labor market in Tanzania is dwarfed by the available labor force due to presence of few mass employers. Tanzania is less industrialized and there are very few strong institutions to back up its employment. In 2014, the leading employer was agriculture providing 66.3% of total employment, employing a total of 13.3 Mil people, followed by informal sector with 21.7% and other private sector ‘which form our strong work institutions’ providing only 7.9% followed by other sectors 4.1 (ILFS, 2014). The Tanzanian labor market, especially the ‘dwarfed’ private sector faces the other challenge of exposure to foreign competition, due to the nature of liberal markets competitions such private firms are forced to market and resource internationally. Having few private work institutions limiting the absorption capacity of the labor market and a freed global competition placed on top of it, these two highly undermine the ability of our education system selling its graduates to the labor market, leading to high unemployment rates
The Quality of Tanzanian education is still questionable, and there are tremendous issues to be dealt with, if Tanzania has to pursue a quality education orientation. Firstly, it has to acknowledge the two pillars it can’t trade-off; the teachers and learning materials and tools, by writing them first it means they’re the most important and they should be blended together for the result to be consistent with the desired outcomes, but even on the two what comes first is the teacher, Hakielimu says “Buildings are of course important, but teachers matter more. When you cannot have everything and trade-offs need to be made, priority should be given to teachers over buildings” (Rakeshi Rajani, Hakielimu-Working papers 06). Secondly, aligning the limited resources to meet the desired outcomes, this is focusing on results and not inputs. Therefore if the desired outcome is competency, then all policies and programs should focus on aligning well the resources in the support of the outcome which is competency. Thirdly, developing a quality-based and an objective measurer of the results, this measurement tool should able to compare the present results with the desired outcomes consistently.
Our education reforms have truly been quantitatively impressive, but with no a clear set of desirable results and lack of focus on outcomes, it has rendered our tremendous works useless. Hence for education system to effectively meet the demands of the labor market, it should primarily focus on producing personnel who are able to thrive in a rapid changing world, overcoming challenges and solving problems, becoming entrepreneurs and creating jobs, and being critical and active citizens of the state.
Kalugula, C. (2001). Have teachers stopped teaching? In G. Hoejlund, N. Mtana, & E. Mhando (Eds.), Practice and Possibility in Teacher Education in Africa: Perspective from Tanzania (pp. 321-329). Dar es Salaam: Ministry of Education.
Komba, S.C & Mwandanji, M. (2015) Reflections on the Implementation of Competence Based Curriculum in Tanzanian Secondary Schools. Journal of Education and Learning; Vol. 4, No. 2; 2015, Published by Canadian Center of Science and Education.
Komba, S. C., & Kira, E. S. (2013). The effectiveness of teaching practice in improving student teachers’ teaching skills in Tanzania. Journal of Education and Practice, 4(1), 157-163.
National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Tanzania, (ILFS, 2014).Tanzania Integrated Labour Force Survey 2014, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: NBS. An Analytical Report for Integrated Labor Force Survey, Presented on November 2015
Nyerere, J.K (1967) Article “Education for Self reliance” Printed in Dar es Salaam by government printer.
Prime Minister’s Office (Regional Administration and local government) National Data (2014) Pre-Primary, Primary and Secondary Education Statistics for the year 2013
Suleman Sumra & Rakesh Rajani; Hakielimu-Working papers 06 “Secondary Education in Tanzania: Key Policy Challenges”, Dar es Salaam
The Glossary of Education Reform, Education System; lastly updated 29-08-2013, Visit; http://edglossary.org/education-system/
Twaweza-Sauti ya wananchi (2013). Brief No.2, Form Four Examination Results “Citizens report on the learning crisis in Tanzania” www.twaweza.org/uploads/files/SzWENBrief2-FINAL.pdf
UNESCO (2011). Tanzania Education Sector Analysis “Beyond Primary Education, the Quest for Balanced and Efficient Policy Choices for Human Development and Economic Growth”, Cluster Office, Dar es Salaam.
 The Glossary of Education Reform, Education System; lastly updated 29-08-2013, Visit; http://edglossary.org/education-system/
 The Impact of expansion of educational facilities, in the Policy Article “Education for Self-reliance” of 1967
 ILFS Report 2014 “Education attainment level of the working population aged 15+”