Tunduru. Tunduru District outperformed its counterparts in Ruvuma Region to claim the first position in the recently released results of the 2019 Standard Seven national examinations.
Data shows that 91.73 percent of Standard 7 pupils who sat for their Primary School Leaving Certificate Examinations passed despite the district’s poor teacher to pupil ratio.
Authorities attribute the performance to learning camps that were set up for pupils during their vacations.
The district faces a shortage of 1,066 teachers.
Its actual demand stands at 2,065 teachers, but currently, it has only 999 of them.
Despite the challenge, leaders in the district came up with a new technique of setting up learning camps.
The pass rate improved by 12.39 per cent in 2019 from 79.34 per cent in 2018.
The improvement also put Tunduru on position 28 at the national level.
Recognising the challenge, the minister of State in the President’s Office (Public Management and Good Governance), Mr George Mkuchika, pledged to give Tunduru District a special preference when it comes to hiring new teachers.
He also promised to post other public servants to Ruvuma Region. Currently, the region – which comprises Tunduru, Namtumbo, Nyasa, Songea and Mbiga districts – faces a shortage of 8,606 public servants across all the social sectors.
According to Tunduru District’s Primary Education Officer Anderson Mwalongo, the learning camps brought about positive results because they were set up in safe environments.
He said the camps, which were aimed at helping pupils to have more learning time, were guarded by both police and militiamen as teachers oversaw discipline and good morals among the pupil.
Leaders of various levels and institutions as well as parents were also involved in supervising the camps day and night.
At the camps, pupils were provided with electricity, clean and safe water, health care services as well as reliable and safe food.
The district’s academic officer, Ms Mwajab Loyal concurred with Mr Mwalongo, saying the camps helped girl pupils to perform much better in their studies since they were not subjected to domestic chores.
More exercises and tests were issued to the pupils.
Ms Loyal echoed Mr Mwalongo statement, saying they faced a number of challenges including a shortage of teachers and the lack of a vehicle for the education department to collect more teachers to teach the pupils.
She said the district is geographically located awkwardly, making it hard for them to transport teachers to the camps.
She said they wish they had been provided with two vehicles so that it could be easier for them to make follow-ups, explaining that some villages are located over 100 kilometres away from the district headquarters.
Ms Loyal says they also faced a challenge of some parents directing their children to perform badly.
As a result, some bright pupils end up failing just because their parents wanted them to end their academic journey at that level.
Authorities in Tunduru also benefitted from the Let’s Read Together Project.
Education coordinators were also provided with motorbikes plus Sh250,000 each for fuel.
She called upon the parents and guardians to implement the government’s circular that requires them to buy uniforms, exercise books and make food contributions for their schooling children.
Mr Jarome Mwambi, a parent, was happy with the ongoing efforts to boost education quality in Tunduru.
“This system has brought a lot of respect to us as parents and Ruvuma as a whole,” he said, noting that all parents must strive to educate their children and stop misleading them to fare poorly in their exams.
The Acting Ruvuma Regional Administrative Officer, Mr Joel Mbewa, says 26,534 candidates passed the 2019 national Standard Seven exams and continued with secondary education in 2020.
He says the examination pass in 2019 was 83.70 percent compared with 74.06 per cent in 2018.
Mr Mbewa says the region has gone up by 9.18 per-cent, congratulating the Tunduru District Commissioner and his team for the achievement.
He also congratulated Songea District Commissioner and his municipality for holding the second position at the regional level in the 2019 Standard 7 national exam results by getting 90. 86 per cent, being an increase of 11.84 percent of examination pass from 79.02 percent in 2018.
He added that Tunduru and Songea district councils had managed to attain the goals of the region as enshrined in the CCM manifesto by scoring 90 of examination pass.