Tanzania launched a new education policy, our rating call on this policy is a mixed bag. Eliminating school fees to the 10th year is a very big positive. Eliminating the high pressure elimination exams is also a big plus.
Making Kiswahili the language of instruction in high school make patriotic sense but does not make bot academic and economic sense – this is isolationist. Lastly interfering with the fees charged by private schools is not an advice able move because it will discourage investment and limit choice.
Dar es Salaam. The newly-launched education system has abolished national examinations for primary school leavers and extended basic education to four years at secondary level—meaning students will sit their final examination after 11 years in primary and secondary school.
The policy makes Kiswahili the medium of instruction from primary school to university level, thereby ditching English —which has dominated Tanzania’s education system from secondary to tertiary level.
But it will take decades for the new system to take root because extensive preparations will have to be carried out before English is phased out. The policy, which President Jakaya Kikwete launched yesterday, also gets rid of school fees at both public primary and secondary levels and guarantees free education.
President Kikwete said the new policy was in line with Vision 2025 and takes into account global economic, social and technological changes. “In the next seven years, we will have built capacity whereby every child who starts Standard One will reach Form Four,” he said during the launch of the policy in Dar es Salaam.
But, given the timeframe, there are doubts that the new policy will yield significant results in the next decade. Critics say school fees in public schools are just a small portion of the cost of education, given that parents are required to make numerous contributions.
According to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, Prof Sifuni Mchome, the new education system will incorporate vocational education in the basic education syllabus so that students who do not make it to Form Five have skills to contribute to the development of the country.
“It’s our hope that when students complete this basic education, which is compulsory up to Form 4,” Prof Mchome said, “they will be at an age ready to contribute to the country’s development.”
Unlike the current policy, which focuses on filtering and rejecting students without skills through final exams, according to Prof Mchome, the new one raises the number of educated Tanzanians with skills.
“We need a critical mass of skilled labour for the country’s development,” he explained, “but you can’t get it through the current traditional system, which only filters and children go back home after failing Standard Seven final exams.”
Mr Kikwete declared it a significant day in the history of the education sector and said the new policy was a must so the country could proceed in line with global economic and technological changes.
The President assured the public that the new direction would take Tanzania to the next level, where the nation will have skilled people with both practical and theoretical knowledge.
Is Kiswahil a solution to education?