To the Tanzanian government, the just-released National Form Four exam results were impressive, but to some stakeholders, they are a product of fabrication and alteration of grades to depict the politically desirable Big Results Now (BRN) outcome — at the expense of the country’s education system.
The Citizen reports that government came under heavy criticism last year following the massive failure in 2012 national Form Four exams, but according to stakeholders, this time around, it juggled with grades to avoid another round of embarrassment’.
Yesterday, some education experts and activists said they were preparing an independent analysis that would show that the just-released Form Four exams results are worse than those of 2012.
The experts’ criticism comes after the government released what some analysts termed an ‘artificial’ improvement in the exams performance by simply altering the grading system to allow for more passes.
Speaking to The Citizen at separate occasions yesterday, they expressed disappointment over what they termed government’s lack of political will to improve the education sector.
They hope their activism will force the government into action to tackle the obvious challenges facing the sector, such as shortage of teachers.
HakiElimu, a non-governmental organisation with a bent towards education improvement is today set to make public its analysis to expose the “artificial” improvement in the results.
“This is not something to celebrate, because if you look into these results as per the previous grading system, many of these pupils have not passed; we need work hard to make sure there is a real improvement in the sector,” the executive director, Ms Elizabeth Misokia said.
The 2013 year’s Form Four results released last weekend indicated that a total of 235,227 students passed. This is equivalent to 58.25 per cent of the candidates who sat for their exams in November last year, compared to 185,940 (43.08 per cent) in 2012.
But Ms Misokia argues that it is wrong to say there’s an improvement in the pass rate by comparing the 2013 and 2012 exams because the two have been graded using completely different systems.
“The government is fooling the public by claiming that results have improved, if we take the division one up to three in the last year’s results, they are 74,324 which makes 21.0 per cent, while in the previous year they were 35,349 which is equivalent to 9.55 per cent,” noted Ms Misokia.
She added that it seems like more pupils passed this year because of adjustment in the grading system, which was made by the government.
By lowering the pass grade, she said, more students who would have scored division zero seemed to have passed their examinations.
She also highlighted that if you combine the newly E and F grades the truth is that there would have been massive failures compared to the 2012 results that rocked the nation, prompting the Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda to form a probe committee.
Previously there was no E grade for ordinary level. The grades were A, B, C, D and F. During the 2013 exams, Grade E was introduced after an attempt to replace division zero with division five was thwarted by members of Parliament.
Following the alteration of the grading system, the newly introduced grade E is now a pass. But if the previous grades would be been fully followed, E grade simply means zero, she further told The Citizen.
Another education expert from the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) Dr Kitila Mkumbo told The Citizen he was in his final process to analyse the just released national form four exams results to establish whether the passing rate had improved or not.
“If we could put these results into the previous year’s grading, I can say that no achievements which were attained,” noted Dr Mkumbo while adding that the government should take stern measures in making sure that education sector is improves.
In 2013 results there was a slight reduction of failures with 151,187candidates or 42.91 per cent, scoring division zero, from nearly 60 per cent the previous year, the changes made by the government last year lowered the grades in all areas.
The grading system includes an A which previously ranged from 81-100 but can now be obtained if a student scores 75-100, the government also introduced a B+ which ranges from 64-74, B:50-59, and C:40-49.
The Tanzania Association of Managers & Owners of Non-Government Schools and Colleges (Tamongsco) executive secretary, Mr Benjamin Nkonya, said that this is just a fabrication.
“It’s just what we call mileage only, because we are not going anywhere in this sector,” said he while adding that the government needs to get serious in handling the education sector.
Apart from lowering the grades, Mr Nkonya highlighted the existing problem facing government schools for many years, “government schools are nowhere to be seen in the top ten list,” said Mr Nkonya.
The Tanzania Teacher’s Union (TTU) General Secretary Dr Ezekia Oluoch said that the reality would only be seen if the government will put the results into the previous grading system.
“This will only reveal the current situation, because we can be celebrating for nothing, we have 3350 ward schools which have a major teachers deficit, the government has delayed to employ new teachers, something which brings more challenges to pupils,” said Dr Oluoch.
He also said that the government should invest more in education sector because there is no way you can get a good return if you had less invested, “less investment in education sector produces less return,” he noted.
In 2012, a total of 210,846 scored division zero which was 56.92 per cent of all pupils sat for the Form Four examinations; a total number of pupils who sat for their examinations were 458,139.