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Uwezo unveils shocking new report on learning in schools

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Elimu (Education Forum)' started by BabuK, Sep 18, 2011.

  1. BabuK

    BabuK JF-Expert Member

    Sep 18, 2011
    Joined: Jul 30, 2008
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    Seven out of 10 standard three pupils in the country can not read. The shocking revelation was made on Thursday during the launch of Uwezo Tanzania’s 2011 Annual Learning Assessment report. The study found out that children are not learning the way the public believe.

    Going by the country’s education curriculum, children are expected to master the basics of reading and numeracy in standard two. However, Uwezo’s assessment shows that most children complete standard two without having done so.
    Uwezo assessed over 128,000 children aged between 7 and 16 in 132 districts countrywide. This year’s findings are similar to last year’s where over 42,000 children in 38 districts were assessed.

    According to this year’s report, only three out of 10 standard three pupils can read a standard two level Kiswahili story, only one in 10 standard three pupils can read a standard two level English story and only three in ten standard three pupils can add, subtract and multiply at a standard two level.

    “It is not until standard five that the majority of pupils can read the story,” the report reads in part. The survey also found out that a significant portion of secondary school students could not read the standard two level story.

    The Uwezo report also has it that English is still a big problem as too many children can not read a basic English story. “Reading levels are lower in English than they are in Kiswahili. Even among standard seven pupils, most can not read a basic English story,” the report reads.

    Uwezo’s Research Manager, Dr. Grace Soko says a lot still needs to be done for our children to be able to read both English and Kiswahili. “Things are a little bit better in Maths but we still have a long way to go,” Dr Soko said when presenting the research findings.

    Another shocking revelation is that seven out of 10 pupils complete standard two without being able to meet the numeracy standards of that level.

    It was found out during the study that geographical locations and economic status affect a child’s performance in school. Pupils in urban areas who attended pre-primary education and whose parents are educated are more likely to master the fundamental skills by the time they reach standard three.

    On the other hand, children in rural areas who did not attend pre-primary school and whose parents are illiterate face an uphill challenge.

    A child in Arusha or Bukoba Urban has an advantage over a child from Kibondo or Meatu.
    “There are many factors that affect how our children learn, but one of the most important is their teacher. And yet our teachers are often not present in school, which make it difficult for our children to learn consistently,” says the report.
    Dr. Soko said one out of five teachers was not present on the day Uwezo conducted the assessment. She said even when teachers are present there are often not enough of them. Uwezo found out that there is an average of 63 pupils for one teacher.

    Parents should also be held responsible on their children’s performance in school. The rate at which parents involve themselves in a child’s education also affects the way a child learns.

    There are parents during the study who were surprised to learn their children could not read.
    These parents never looked at their children’s exercise books, let alone follow up on their development at school. Neither do parents regularly discuss with their children what they do in class.

    Philipina Lada, one of the district coordinators involved in the study, said that in many families it is school going elder brothers and sisters who helped their siblings with school work. In Mpwapwa where Lada comes from, a few parents look at their children’s exercise books, at least once in a week.

    Distance from home to school is another factor that affects a child’s learning. Some children walk for long hours to and from school such that they can not touch their books once they get home due to exhaustion. The long distance also affects concentration in class since children get to school tired.

    Another factor leading to poor performance in school is the fact that some teachers are unqualified and that some had not had auxiliary training for more than five years at the time of the study. Most interviewed teachers said they had never seen a school inspector, which is why some schools have unqualified teachers, among other anomalies.

    The study also found that girls performed poorer than boys. This can be explained by the fact that girls don’t get a chance to study at home after school as they have to help with house work.

    The district coordinators that The Guardian on Sunday spoke to said Uwezo’s study was the best among education studies as it painted the real picture of the country’s education.

    They called upon the government, donors and other education stakeholders to support the NGO so it could map out more clearly the situation in each aspect of our education system. This, they said, would help in telling policy makers where we are going wrong and what we should do to improve the situation.

    Uwezo suggests that for an improvement in our children’s learning, we need to focus on the quality of learning that happens within schools. Uwezo has it that lasting solutions will only come when everyone is committed to helping children learn. And this should start now.