NECTA should treat ward schools fairly

Deo Mushi

THE results of the national Form Four examinations done last year were announced this week, showing that ten best performing schools were private-run.

Right after the release of the results, two students who led the chat, Alfred Shauri from Feza Boys and Cynthia Mchechu (Saint Francis Mbeya) triggered discussions, both in mainstream and social media. The two genius students were praised for efforts they had put forward to excel, mentioning seriousness, hardworking and prayers as factors which had made them score that high.

As I looked at how Alfred and Cynthia had performed, I got convinced that the two young lads are super intelligent, for defeating their colleagues, to stay at the top.

I examined types of schools they had attended, and I found all of them having enough qualified teachers, well equipped laboratories, libraries with enough text books, and above all, a serene learning environment, coupled with enough and delicious food. I also looked at the economic situation of their parents and where they live in Dar es Salaam, then concluded that the two students lacked almost nothing in their education struggle. Their task was only to study hard, something they did to the expectations of their parents and guardians. Kudos to them.

Having looked at the results of Feza Boys, Marian Boys, Marian Girls, Anuarite, Saint Francis and others in the top ten, I then searched Google engine to see how ward schools had performed, and my interest was Igowole secondary school in Njombe region.

This school has been doing very well in form six examination results but for the O-level, the school performed poorly. Majority of their candidates were absorbed in division three and four. My sister’s daughter Tarama also wrote her form four examination last year, at a ward secondary school named Sungu in Moshi Rural District in Kilimanjaro region.

She is the only candidate in that school who scored second division, and majority of her colleagues got division four and zero. Her performance really impressed us. During Christmas in Moshi last year, Tarama told us what it takes to study at a ward school, saying her school did not have enough teachers, especially science teachers.

Every morning she used to walk six kilometers to and from school, and at times she would leave home without breakfast, and stayed hungry until noon, when she ate ugali and beans for lunch. After returning home at 5:00pm, Tarama used to do home chores before beginning her personal studies at 8:00 to mid night.

Her school did not have either equipped laboratories or library, and she used to borrow books from her friends, plus past national examination papers, which enlightened her how to answer questions skillfully.

I have compared school lives of Cynthia and Alfred with that of my sister’s daughter Tarama, then concluded that National Examination Council of Tanzania (NECTA) is not fair to combine all schools and put them in the same category when announcing either form four or form six examination results.

Under the assistance of Tanzania Media Fund (TMF) six years ago, I travelled to six regions to conduct a research on how ward secondary schools were faring, and I discovered that most of them had very serious and dedicated students. I am pretty sure that if Cynthia and Alfred had studied in a ward school in Mtwara, their results could not have been that good.

Likewise, had Tarama studied at Saint Francis in Mbeya, she would most likely score to the level of Cynthia. It is at this juncture that I would suggest NECTA to introduce different groupings when announcing the examination results to differentiate their studying milieu that contributes a lot to their performance.

The categories should include ward schools category, private schools category, special schools (like Ilboru and Kibaha) category, and seminaries’ category as well. There is a pending task that local media has failed to authenticate to clearly show competence of students at secondary and college level.

After mentioning best students in form four or six examination results, the media has failed to trace the academic performance of students in their next level. For example, do the media know where the best students announced by NECTA last year are studying? How are they doing academically?

Do we have a record of those who finished form four two years ago, who are expected to do their national form six examinations this year? No wonder we may have a new list of best students when form six results shall be announced, who were not in the list of best ten students in the form four results two years ago.

A professor at the University of Dar es Salaam once told me that majority of students joining that institution with division one from A level private schools usually face stiff competition from those coming from government-run schools, especially Kibaha, Kilakala, Tabora Boys and Ilboru.

If NECTA shall introduce the categories, the new system shall be easy to trace which ward schools are performing well, and that shall automatically encourage them to do even better in future.

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