28pc of school-going age children not learning: report

Thursday December 12 2019

Amina Ismail, a pupil at Umoja Primary School

Amina Ismail, a pupil at Umoja Primary School in Dar es Salaam, cuts a ribbon to unveil the Uwezo Tanzania Learning Assessment Report 2019 as Twaweza executive director Aidan Eyakuze (left), Uwezo programme manager Zaida Mgalla and Swedish ambassador Andres Sjoberg look on in Dar es Slaam yesterday. PHOTO | ERICKY BONIPHACE 

By Frank Kimboy @frankkimboy fkimboy@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. Despite the government’s decision to reintroduce free education in primary and secondary schools, about 28 percent of children of school-going age are not in school, according to a new study report by Twaweza.

Out of the 28 percent, some 15.6 percent have never been enrolled in school, while the other 12.4 percent were enrolled but later dropped out of school.

The survey - which involved 48,533 respondents from 1,677 schools scattered in 56 districts across the country was conducted in 2017. The survey was conducted by Uwezo Project, a research arm of Twaweza.

Presenting the findings, Uwezo Tanzania manager Zaida Mgalla said in most of the areas where they went to collect views, most of the children who were aged 6 - especially children from poor households - were out of school.

“Some of those we interviewed said they had never been enrolled, while others claimed that they were forced to drop out of school due to various factors,” said Ms Mgalla.

According to her, one of the reasons which cause children to drop out of school is the fact that most schools don’t provide lunch and breakfast to pupils.

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The survey, according to Ms Mgalla, showed that only 39 percent of families can afford to provide food allowances to their children.

However, the report - titled ‘Are Our Children Learning,’ and launched yesterday - also showed some improvements in Kiswahili literacy, while pupils who were tested during the survey showed a decline in English, and general fluctuation in numeracy.

The new data from Uwezo Learning Assessment, which was launched yesterday, shows steady improvement in Swahili literacy skills for children in Standards 3 and 7. The report shows that 3-out-of-6 Standard 3 pupils can read a Standard 2 short story written in ki-Swahili, which is equivalent to 62 percent. The report further states that, in Standard 7, 8-out-of-10 pupils (86 percent) passed the test, which is virtually the same as the 2014 results when 85 percent passed the test. “Although the Uwezo assessment results continue to show steady improvement in Swahili literacy - especially for Standard 3 children - there are significant disparities.

“The place where a child lives influences their access to school, how much they learn and where they learn,” noted Ms Mgalla.

In English literacy, the report shows that only one-out-of-seven Standard 3 pupils could read a Standard 2 short story. This is equivalent to 15 percent.

The report indicates that half of Standard 7 pupils cannot read English, the language of instruction in secondary school. In numeracy, the report shows that 3-pupils-out-of-6 in Standard 3 can solve a Standard 2 subtraction problem. Six-out-of-10 Standard 3 pupils passed the test.

Despite mixed results in learning outcomes for the three subjects, the Uwezo data also demonstrate the clear value of children attending school.