Not so fast!
Whenever the secondary schools pass rates information comes out most educationists in Tanzania are fast to point their fingers to English as the culprit. The argument is always that “see I told you, we can’t test them in English. It is unfair to them. They don’t know English. Let us switch to Swahili alone as the medium of instruction.” I really do not agree with this argument. Let us look at this year primary school pass rates. The pass rate there is 30% to 70% effective failures. And, in primary schools Swahili is the only medium of instruction for most subjects. If English is the only reason for all these massive failures at the secondary level, then why are the students failing miserably at the primary level where every subject is taught in Swahili except for English?
I knew all along that there are many variables that co-vary with the language of instruction. These include: 1) teacher absenteeism, 2) a disconnect between the test and material taught, 3) lower pay, 4) instructional strategies used, 5) language of instruction, and the list goes on and on. Watch my videos on you tube under Kibogoji Conversations and read my other articles on the state of the education system in Tanzania on the http://www.kibogoji.com. In some of these articles I have attempted to explain in detail the solutions to this year in and year out problem in pass rates.
Here is a blog post with more information on the same subject. Click here to read the post.
To add salt to the wound, here are this year’s standard seven results as broken down by the IPP MEDIAs’ newspaper. Off-course, standard seven students are all taught in Swahili except for the subject of English. Below are the numbers showing how they did in the examination.
Total number of students who took the exam: 456,082.
Breakdown by gender: girls (52.68 per cent) and 409,745 boys (47.32 per cent).
Of those who passed: 3,087 candidates scored grade A, 40,683 grade B, 222,103 grade C.
Total pass rate: 265,873 (30%).
Of those who failed: 526,397 grade D, 73, 264 grade E.
Total failure rate: 599,661 (70%).
Now as the evidence shows, English is not the only variable that is ailing the Tanzanian education system.
Maybe it is the right time to say that Swahili is the cause of all these massive failures. Perhaps.