English defended at key education reforms debate

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  • Speakers at a forum say English should remain a medium of instruction in Tanzania schools given its status and critical role in knowledge generation

Arusha. English has been defended as a medium of instruction that should remain even under the coming reforms in education.

Various speakers at a forum that has been going on in Dodoma since late last week say the language should be part of the syllabus in various levels of teaching.

They said English should remain a medium of instruction in Tanzanian schools given its status and critical role in knowledge generation.

Kiswahili, the national language, should equally be given the same treatment, they insisted at the forum that was chaired by the minister for Education, Science and Technology Prof Adolf Mkenda.

It has been proposed under the reforms that compulsory education should be up to Form IV with the primary school tenure reduced to six years from seven.

However, there would be one year of pre-primary that has to be mandatory and which would prepare the pupils for Standard One.

"There will be six years of primary education preceded by one year of early education,” one of the speakers sent to seek the views of the stakeholders told the forum yesterday.

He added; "English must be there; from primary school to the universities. So is Kiswahili".

The forum was convened to digest various proposals that have been made over the years to reform the country's education system.

The move which has often been pushed on by the politicians and the scholars is largely intended to improve the quality of education as well as offer education that matches with the market needs.

The planned reforms followed rising concerns that the local graduates lacked the necessary skills for creating their own jobs.

The private sector, on the other hand, has repeatedly complained that there had been a mismatch between the school knowledge and the job market demands.

The government, therefore, has intervened by collecting views from different stakeholders as it seeks to overhaul the education sector to produce competent graduates.

Prof Mkenda has repeatedly said the ministry would continue to invite views from the public and scholars on how to reform the education sector.

He stressed, however, that the views on improving the quality of education should focus on change of the curricula, demand and quality of teachers and the working tools.

One of the policy reviews cited last year was 10 years of compulsory education while Tanzania provides it for only seven years. He said the ongoing analysis and consultations will help to reach a common decision.

Calls for total overhaul of the country’s education system are long overdue. However, there is hope that things will soon change for the better after the ministry disclosed recently that the reforms were, indeed, on the cards.

The reforms are intended to focus on meeting the demands of a world that is undergoing massive change, and nurture future leaders in the new global landscape.

However, scholars have often advised that the ambitious plan and the envisaged reforms should not be carried out hastily.

 The process should be inclusive enough to ensure that all groups of Tanzanians benefit equally from the reforms.