Mwananchi Thought Leadership Forum V - 2019

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November

MWANANCHI FORUM: The question of resources in learning

Uwezo is a citizen-led learning assessment initiative which was established in 2009 and is implemented by Twaweza in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Uwezo learning assessments focus on literacy and numeracy competencies which are essential foundational skills that enable children to learn further.

The ability to read and numerate is not only important for success in learning at all levels, but also important in everyday life of every human being or example in accessing information on how to establish and manage a profitable business.

In 2017 Uwezo conducted its 6th learning assessment in 56 districts of Tanzania mainland. Apart from assessing literacy and numeracy competencies, Uwezo also assessed school environment and access to facilities, resources and services in school such as meals, water, availability of teachers, and adequate classrooms that are essential to enhance quality teaching for improved learning outcomes. This fact sheet will also make reference to previous Uwezo assessment report especially the 2015.

 

Pupil-teacher ratio in Pre- school is higher than in Primary schools

 

Of the many variables that impact students’ academic achievement, the availability of appropriately skilled teachers has elicited much attention. Policy makers, school administrators and parents regard teacher quality and quantity as central to improved students’ performance.

 

Due to high levels of household poverty coupled with dismal library and other educational resources in schools, teachers are found to be the most critical resource in ensuring learning.

Uwezo 2017 assessment reveals that on average, the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) for pre-school was 86:1, which is over three times higher than the recommended national ratio of 25:1 (URT, 2008). This implies that pre-school classes are overcrowded and that may affect effective teaching of children at early ages for quality learning.

 

Uwezo 2017 assessment reveals that on average, the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) for pre-school was 86:1, which is over three times higher than the recommended national ratio of 25:1 (URT, 2008) . This implies that pre-school classes are overcrowded and that may affect effective teaching of children at early ages for quality learning.

In contrast, the average pupil-teacher ratio for primary school (Standards 1 to 6 ) was 44:1. This is a positive achievement considering that the official recommended PTR standard is of 45:1. This is consistent with previous Uwezo assessments which recorded 46:1 and 44:1 in 2014 and 2015, respectively. However, wide variation in PTRs were found between the assessed districts.

 

In contrast, the average pupil-teacher ratio for primary school (Standards 1 to 6 ) was 44:1. This is a positive achievement considering that the official recommended PTR standard is of 45:1. This is consistent with previous Uwezo assessments which recorded 46:1 and 44:1 in 2014 and 2015, respectively. However, wide variation in PTRs were found between the assessed districts.

 

For example, Kibondo District recorded the highest ratio (65:1) while Meru district recorded a PTR of 26:1 (Uwezo 2017). District disparities in PTR reveal that primary schools in some districts have enough teachers while in other districts teachers are in adequate.

Due to high levels of household poverty coupled with dismal library and other educational resources in schools, teachers are the most critical resource in ensuring learning.

 

The government should ensure equal distribution of teachers in all schools and strengthening of professional conditions and an incentive structure for teachers so as to improve and reinforce their continued stay in the school in order to enhance students’ learning outcomes.

 

Less than 1 in 4 schools in Tanzania have meal programmes for pupils

Research on nutrition and academic learning has shown that programmes for the provision of school meals are a vital way to not only increase school enrolments, but also sustain attendance and improve school performance (Ng’ong’a 2014; World Food Programme, 2016).

 

Results from the Uwezo 2017 assessment reveal that, nationally, only 23.4 per cent of primary schools in Tanzania provide children with meals.

 

This is a low proportion considering the importance of nutrition to children’s general well-being and their capacity to concentrate in learning. Variations between regions and districts in the provision of meals to children in schools were also observed.

 

For example, 100 per cent of public primary schools in Moshi District and almost 97 per cent of the schools in Ludewa District provide meals to children compared with only 3.3 per cent of schools in Mkuranga, Bariadi (3.3 per cent) and Sumbawanga districts (3.3 per cent) respectively.

 

Pupil Latrine Ratio (PLR) are still high

Adequate provision of hygiene facilities in school, such as toilets, is critical to avoid the spread of infectious diseases. They also help create a more pleasant and dignified learning environment, in which children feel valued. Guidelines in developed countries recommend a ratio of around 1 toilet per 20 pupils.

 

The official guidelines for Schools Water Health and Sanitation (Wash) in Tanzania recommended pupil to toilet ratio of one pit latrine/toilet per 20 girl pupils (1:20) and one per 25 boy pupils (1:25), (MOEST Guideline School Wash, 2016). However, the Uwezo findings show that no region meets these guidelines. Nationally, the pupil to toilet ratio is 58:1, i.e., on average, 58 pupils share 1 drop hole.

This is an increase of 8 per cent from 2015 where the PLR was 50:1 respectively. The ratios for boys and girls were 60:1 and 56:1, respectively.

 

District disparities were also noted. The lowest pupil -toilet ratio for boys was 19:1 in Moshi districts and the highest ratio was in Ubungo Municipality (133:1). As for the girls the lowest toilet ratio was 16:1 in Rombo district and the highest ratio was 114:1 in Ubungo Municipality.

 

Figures 29 and 30 present ten districts with highest Pupil- Toilet ratio for boys and girls, and the 10 districts with the lowest Pupil-Toilet ratio for both girls and boys respectively.

 

It is important to emphasize that while raising the quality of schooling is a valid general priority for Tanzania, very large gaps in Pupil Teacher Ratio across the districts may be the obstacle to achieve that priority.

Policy makers need to take these district differences into account, and target efforts and resources to ensure that all children enjoy learning in a conducive environment with adequate hygienic facilities.