Friday, October 15, 2010

"Is our Children learning?"

Shanta Devarajan interviews Rakesh Rajani from Sense Film Production on Vimeo.

I assume many of you by now have already read or learned about the Twaweza's report "Are our Children Learning?" released last month. Above is an excellent interview on this report given by Rakesh Rajani of "Twaweza" and conducted by the Chief Economist for Africa, World Bank, Shanta Devarajan.

Rakesh shares the sobering picture of quality of education in Tanzania despite the country dramatically increasing primary school enrollment and recently receiving an MDG award for the achievement.

Some key findings showing that all this "quantitative success is hollow":

  • About 20 percent of the children who had completed seven years of primary school could not read their own language, Kiswahili, at the Grade 2 level;
  • Half of them could not read English, which is the medium of instruction in secondary education;
  • And about 30 percent could not do a simple (Grade 2) multiplication problem.

So what do we do now? His suggestions:

1) We need to make sure money (budgetary allocation) reaches the schools.

2) A social compact with Teachers to improve their conditions in exchange for better results.

3) Reforming the education system to add more incentives that reward what matters eg cash on delivery.

Other key findings in the report can be read here.

What are your suggestions?


mnkadebe said...

My suggestion: change of government. This is an indictment against the ruling party (ccm), after nearly 50 years in power our kid can't read or write to even pass the most basic literacy and numeracy test. Aibu kubwa nana hii,kwanini magazeti nyumbani hawajadandia mad a hii?

Anonymous said...

it is pure negligence, that can be traced back just after independence, but the good thing is that, if people start talking about it, then it is a sign of identifying and realising that we have major problems on our education system, and therefore we should shift our debate on solutions in solving the problem. may be we can start look at the models to our neighbouring countries, e.g. Botswana and other developed countries in Africa and see what they have been doing about it for the past 10-20yrs.

Yale maneno yetu ya kiswahili, "Mwalimu huyo ana mpango". I think we all understand, what that means. So do I. I wouldn't want to be a teacher in Tanzania on the current climate, it is that simple, this is how I personally view the profession and education system on this country, it is the least of profession ambayo watu wanaipa dharau, and this is not only because of the poor salaries but also JAMII hivyo ndivyo inavyoiona.

I dont have a faith, and believe on it, and I can assure you I am not alone.

Nathan Chiume said...

While I agree that a political will from the top is needed to bring change to the current state of education, we have to see this first as an institutional problem. Our bureaucracy at the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Higher Learning, Tanzania Institute of Education, Examination Board etc (all non-political actors), are simply not doing a great job in identifying what is not working and self-correcting it. They measure wrong things that do not really matter when it comes to education. It requires a change of mindset from top down, and the ability to accept criticism instead of brushing it aside.

Anonymous said...


Reform! Reform!.

in business term, we call it Value for Money, particularly subjected to public sectors, include those you have mentioned on your comment.

The system is outdated, fully of inefficiency, incompetance, and Realistically NOT reliable at all. you will be surprised the amount of waste thats going in there on all of the above. We need and independent auditing not only on educational departments and in most part in all government department.

We need those changes now than ever, or face a slow extinction and far away from reality, and only then it becomes security concern for this country.

Education is fundamentally important for our nation, for many reasons, SECURITY is one of them.

Anonymous said...

"Is our Children learning?"

I like it!

Mbele said...

I wonder if the framing of the question was meant in jest. "Children" is a plural noun, and the question should have been, "Are our children learning?" Did no one spot this error? If no one did, I worry for our children!

Nathan Chiume said...

Indeed Prof Mbele. The heading was framed as a joke to drive home the message. The origin of the joke, and the heading, is actually a blooper by George W Bush, if you recall:

Mbele said...

Thanks, Nathan, for that background information. I can see now how effective and revealing the joke is.