It has been a long journey of education that kept a pupil at pre and primary school for about ten years. Soon after their graduation even before the National examination results are out majority of primary schools enroll pupils for Pre Form One studies.
Pre Form One is defined as a tuition program to help bridge the transition from primary school to secondary school. This keeps majority of pupils whose parents can afford its costs to school early in advance for their children to prepare for secondary education.
It is a very positive practice as far as preparing a pupil ready to start his or her secondary education is concerned. It involves costs which not all parents can afford. It keeps pupils busy and deny them an opportunity to get to rest as they wait for their national examinations.
It has created some sort of a debate among education stakeholders. As some are positive about it while some think it is a way of making money and rushing pupils into a syllabus soon as they officially start Form One studies.
Jamila Hassan,33, is a nurse in Mikocheni. She says, back in the days, the Pre Form One practice never existed. Pupils would spend their time learning small home chores as they waited to join secondary schools in January.
Currently, majority are going to Pre Form One. She is supporting the move but at the same time saying it is a way of making money and at the end of the day.
“My daughter is enrolled in one of the secondary schools in Mbezi. I had to visit four different secondary schools for my daughter to do interviews and get best school. It took us more than Sh1,000,000 for us to do interviews until when she was selected at that school,” says Jamila.
Adding to that she says, her daughter passed her examinations but she wanted to get her the best school. And all of the schools her daughter went for interviews it is a must for a student to be enrolled for Pre Form One.
She says, for just three months they have paid Sh800, 000 for Pre Form One. Not all parents can afford this cost. This makes it difficult for parents who wants to enroll their children at such schools.
Jaked Kombo is a teacher at Majani ya Chai Secondary School in Tandika. He says government schools teaches using Swahili. The transition to start using English in Secondary Schools makes Pre Form One a positive move. However, the practice has its challenges.
He says, most of the schools prefer Pre Form One as it pushes them far in advance with the syllabus. By the time January comes students find themselves very far compared to those who start their studies in January.
“In other words Pre Form One practice provides ample time later for both students and teachers to revise the entire syllabus as others are completing the syllabus. This is a way of making pupils shine more in their examinations and parents keep running for the shining schools,” says Kombo.
He says, it is that time when students with different levels of understanding are being forced to perform just like other students who are fast learners. Parents need to understand that it is not right to force good marks as children do differ on their levels of understanding.
Commenting on the effects of forcing students to perform the same as fast learners Bonaventura Balige says, it creates fear, stress and lack of confidence to pupils who cannot cope up with the speed of the students who perform well.
At some point slow learners have to be forced to cope with the speed just to attract business for schools that perform. Parents should learn more on their children performances before they force them into most performing schools.
“There is nothing wrong with enrolling your child at a performing school. It is however important to get your child enrolled to a school that accepts children of diferrent levels of understanding not schools that wants children with only best grades. This kills the zeal to learn and understand and stimulate cramming,” says Balige.
He says, majority of students enrolled in Pre Form One study very hard. Most of their time is used on studies to the point that their social life is being affected and never think of extra curricula activities. It is all about books for them to perform.
Apart from Pre Form One practice there are some parents who prefer to take their children for boot camps programmes to learn about life skills. Available information from Grace Inc, a local firm that deals with organizing summer boot camp programmes for children from age 5 up to 21 years shows the camps aims at equipping them to face the challenges of today and live what they love.
The modules include etiquette and manners, confidence building, financial management, presentation, prioritisation, decision making and dealing with bullying and peer pressure.
The modules are age appropriate for 5-6, 7-9, 10-13, 14-17, 18-21 years. This trainings take place during the holidays and fees charged is Sh200,000/- per child for 10 days.
Greyson Ambwene, 40, is a banker. He has a child who has completed her primary education. He says, he wish he could afford to take her child to Pre Form One but they are way too expensive.
He says, he grew up with no Pre Form One practice but still managed to shine in his studies. Things have changed with time. If he had money he would take the child for Pre Form One.
“I am not happy to see her at home though back in our days it was so exciting to spend time helping our parents. But things have changed with time I know it also stimulates business for private schools owners but since it comes with positive results it is something to go for,” he says.
He says lack of confidence in children can be addressed by responsible authorities.
Benjamin Nkonya is the Chairperson of Tanzania Association of Managers and Owners of Non Governmental Schools and Colleges (TAMMONGOSCO), Private Schools Owners in Tanzania. He says, each school board has parents in it as some representative of other parents.
Parents are always involved in the meetings that discusses schools development. Pre Form One practice was also discussed before it was introduced. Majority of parents supported the idea and it was put in place.
Commenting on the accusations that students are being rushed with the syllabus he says, he cannot comment on that as he has never done a research on that. He insisted Pre Form One reduces stress for pupils who are coming from schools that used Kiswahili and now joining Secondary Schools where English is the language of communication and instruction expect for Kiswahili subject alone.
Available information from en.m.wikipedia Education in Tanzania only recognize pre primary education, primary education, secondary ordinary, secondary advanced and university level education.