The National Examination Council of Tanzania (Necta)'s 2010 Form Four examinations results were published last week amongst concerns of poor performance by students. The pass rate dropped sharply by 22.11 percent, exposing the crisis the education sector is facing in this country.
Announcing the results, Necta Executive Secretary Dr Joyce Ndalichako, said 55.40 percent of the students who sat for the exams passed, as compared to72.51 percent who passed in 2009 examinations.
The problems bedeviling the educational sector in this country have been left unattended for a long time and their effects are beginning to be felt as students perform dismally in final examinations.
It's an open secret that many students are forced to sit on the floor due to shortages or nonavailability of desks and chairs. Books in most cases are in short supply and their parents can't afford them. Some students are forced to spend the whole day playing games and indulging in deviancy due to acute shortage of teachers. Some endure long distances by foot and arrive at school too tired to learn.
The intensity of these problems has forced some students to seek solace in deviant behaviour. Some boys are expelled from school after indulging in drug abuse while girls fall by the wayside after falling pregnant.
But, the sudden turn of events that saw girls outclassing boys in the exams provides a ray of hope for the girl child who for a long time has been at the receiving end. Many girls have seen their academic journeys being cut short due to pregnancies and poverty where they are married off as parents opt to educate the boy child.
Though hope seems to have been restored for the girl child, the overall performance of all students leave a lot to be desired. There is need for an overhaul of the whole educational system, from primary school up to high school, failure to which our schools will continue producing thousands of half-backed products every year.
The country's national exam body, Necta blamed the poor performance on failure by students to master English among other reasons. The powers that be should not only decide once and for all as to which language English or Swahili be used as a medium of teaching but should promote its use. This will help the students in that they will be exposed to the language from nursery until they sit for their final examinations in high school.
The launching of the second phase of Secondary Education Development Programme (SEDP 11) by President Jakaya Kikwete recently, though it comes at a time when the educational sector is in shambles, undoubtedly is a step towards the right direction.
The programme will see improved infrastructure, teaching facilities, teachers' houses being built especially in rural areas, creating good teaching environment and investing in science education among others, a move aimed at bettering the quality of education delivered in schools.
The powers that be should use it, by going back to the drawing board, to take the sector out of this mess for a better tomorrow. It remains everyone's duty to play his or her part to improve our educational system in this country.