Friday, November 1, 2013

No more Div. Zero as govt guts national grading system

The Permanent Secretary of the ministry for

The Permanent Secretary of the ministry for Education and Vocational Training, Prof Sifuni Mchome, addresses reporters in Dar es Salaam yesterday about the preparation of the new national examination grading system for both forms Four and Six levels. Right is the Commissioner for Education, Prof Eustella Bhalalusesa. PHOTO | VENANCE NESTORY 

By Elisha Magolanga ,The Citizen

Dar es Salaam. The government has changed the grading system in secondary schools so that it includes a student’s continuous assessment in their final national exam results.

The grading will also entail Grade Point Average (GPA) that is applied in higher education.

The changes which come to effect next year will see the elimination of Division Zero, as the new system will give results showing scores of Divisions One, Two, Three, Four and Five. However, a transitional grading system which is in line with the new one has been put in place to cater for this year’s Form Four and next year’s Form Six candidates.

Briefing reporters in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the permanent secretary in the ministry of Education and Vocational Training, Prof Sifuni Mchome, said categorisation has also changed as there will be seven grades indicated as A, B+, B, C, D, E, and F.

A distinction performance – ‘A’ – falls within 25 marks range (75 to 100) instead of the previous 20 marks range (80 to 100) while ‘B’ has been divided in two clusters – ‘B+’ – ranging from 60 to 74 and ‘B’ (50 – 59). Subsidiary categorisation for Form Six leavers has been removed.

Prof Mchome added that the categorisation will be defined thus: ‘A’ (an outstanding performance); ‘B+’ (Excellent) ‘B’ (Very Good performance); ‘C’ (Good); ‘D’ (Low) ‘E’ (Very Low) and F (Unsatisfactory).

Therefore, ‘C’ will be a pass mark average that does not require remediation. ‘D’ and ‘E’ will be a targeted remediation pass marks and ‘F’ has been declared an intensive remediation marks. The system has, however, been received with scepticism by education stakeholders who said quality should come before elimination of failure.

Reacting to the news, information and advocacy manager at HakiElimu Nyanda Shuli queried the motive behind the reduction of the pass mark, saying if the government did so in order to minimise the rate of failure, then it was a wrong approach.

However, he commended the move to enforce the system of continuous assessment, saying it was important in making fair judgment of the student’s performance and skills gained over the years ahead of the final exams.

Mr Mtemi Zombwe, an independent educational expert, criticised the decision to lower the pass mark, saying it sends a negative message to the students – that they can only get a good grade if the prerequisite marks are lowered.

“This means we are building a society of people who have to be helped to succeed,” he said.

On the other hand, he praised the system for co-opting marks from the continuous assessment in the final exams.

He noted that the system is positive since it values what a student has learnt in lower classes.

“But, my worry is whether the marks will be valid because teachers may give their charges free marks to boost their chances in the national exams, what with today’s low morale among teachers whose myriad of problems haven’t been problems,” he said.

Speaking to The Citizen recently, education activist and CEO of Twaweza, Mr Rakesh Rajani, said the problem with Tanzanian education was not the grading but the collapse of overall education system.

According to Prof Mchome, the continuous assessment (CA) will carry 40 against 60 per cent allocated to the final exam in both Advanced and Ordinary levels.

For the Form Four students, the CA will be assessed from the following exams: Form Two -- 15 per cent; Form Three -- 10 per cent, Mocks 10 per cent and 5 per cent from projects.

However, the CA for private candidates will be earned through the Qualifying Test (QT) while re-sitters will be assessed through their previous CA.

Prof Mchome further noted that the changes are part of the efforts by education ministries in both the Mainland and Zanzibar and education stakeholders aimed at improving the country’s education system.

Last year’s Form Four which showed a 60 per cent failure necessitated the formation of a commission of inquiry whose findings are yet to be made public.