New report highlights effects of free learning

Thursday April 06 2017
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Dar es Salaam. The teacher-pupil ratio for Standard One in public primary schools has risen three-fold to 1:164 from 1:51, according to a new study.

The study, which focuses on the impact of the implementation of the fee-free education policy for primary education level up to Form Four of secondary education in Tanzania, shows that the sharp rise in enrolment of Standard One pupils was the result of the implementation of the policy.

According to a local education advocacy organisation, HakiElimu, which undertook the study that was launched in Dar es Salaam yesterday, authorities had anticipated that the teacher-pupil ratio would only double to reach 1:99.

The new ratio is now almost four times the ideal standard set by the President’s Office--Regional Administration and Local Government (Polarg) of 1:40.

While pupil enrolment shot up, there was no recruitment of new teachers, a situation which HakiElimu argues has been compromising the quality of education in the country. Launching the study, a lecturer from the University of Dar es Salaam, Dr Richard Shukia, explained that the implementation of the free education policy has increased the teacher workload and reduced their motivation.

However, statistics from Poralg shows that by December 2016, the teacher-pupil ratio stood at 1.51 countrywide.

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About the general understanding of the policy, the HakiElimu study shows that there was a general confusion and mixed understanding on the notions of basic education and free education among players, noting that only 44 per cent of headteachers, for example, had a clear understanding of the policy.

According to the report, the fact that more than 50 per cent of heads of schools, who are the key players in the implementation of the policy, had limited understanding of the document, then attaining achievements would be difficult.

The findings also show that 51 per cent of parents believe that the policy is meant to free parents and guardians from various expenses related to their children’s schooling in public schools.

On the capitation and grants, the study established that there were variations in the funding received in both primary and secondary schools, as some received less than the expected amounts whereas secondary schools, in general, received above the expectations.

In its recommendations, the study suggested that the government should organise a session with key education stakeholders to clarify and raise awareness on the policy.

“The government should also ensure that capitation grants reach all schools in time with adequate amounts as per the fee-free policy, this should go hand in hand with revising the amount to be dished out in schools,” said Dr Shukia.

Earlier, HakiElimu executive director John Kalage said the aim of the study was to establish an overview of the understanding of the fee-free basic education implementation and assess stakeholders’ perceptions and opinions on the effects of the policy and its impact on teaching and learning.

The study was carried out in seven districts of Tanzania Mainland randomly selected from six zones to achieve geographical representation.

“A total of 56 schools were selected from seven districts such as Njombe, Mpwapwa, Sumbawanga, Kilosa, Korogwe, Tabora Urban and Muleba,” he said.

Reacting to the report, education stakeholders asked the government to review the strategy and come up with a full package plan that would address the highlighted challenges.