WONDER whether you have sat down and ask yourself the following question – Why does National Examination Council of Tanzania (NECTA) puts the results of all pupils together, irrespective of the schools they attended?
Kenya discovered the importance of grouping the results in different categories over twenty years ago, that is why results are usually portrayed, depending on some factors.
I am saying this because the 2017 standard seven national examination results were announced last week, and the top ten best performing schools were those private-run, famously known as English medium schools while government-run schools were at the tail.
After that announcement, both the print and electronic media came up with a list of the best ten schools, top best girls and the ten boys who came first in those annual examinations and some of them emerged from a private school in Tanga region known as Sir John.
Interested in those results, some media outlets even went further and interviewed some of the pupils who had performed exceptionally well, at least to understand what might have attributed to their academic excellence, and the responses differed from one pupil to the other.
While others said their personal struggle, coupled with those of their teachers were the key source of the results, others said prayers and personal study provided them with the opportunity to write their examinations which eventually led to that academic success.
Some important factors which might have been the source for the English medium schools to excel include good and enough food, well trained teachers, enough text books, and generally, economic support from their parents which supported them with all the material needs that they needed.
Pupils attending private schools are usually picked and driven back home by bus every day, and this helps them to have ample sleep to prepare themselves well for classes. These pupils whose parents have some financial muscle to keep them is such schools have almost five meals a day.
Before they leave for school, most of these pupils have breakfast of their choice at home, and the menu could include juice, tea, porridge, bread, sausage, fruits, cornflakes or any other meal of their preference.
While at school, the pupils have ten o’clock tea served with bread, then for lunch they either take ugali or rice, of course with beans and some vegetables, and drinking water is available throughout the day.
When pupils return home in the evening, house girls are usually instructed to prepare them tea and bread, then they do their home work and personal studies before going to bed at around 8:30pm, and that is more or less how their day goes. When you turn behind and observe the day of a pupil attending a government primary school, there are some things to observe which may deter him or her from performing well in studies.
Such a pupil may work up in the morning and get a cup of tea only, though others may get a slice of bread (In urban areas) while upcountry, the ugali which remained the previous night can serve as breakfast in the morning. Most of the pupils attending government schools they normally walk, and others may stroll as long as a kilometer or two depending on where the school is located.
The lucky ones may eat ugali and beans for their lunch, while others may remain in school without food throughout the day depending on the efficient of their parents to contribute for this particular service.
When they return home, some of these pupils have some home chores to attend to, especially fetching water at sources located a little bit far from their houses, before they eat supper at around seven or so, and due to tiredness or lack of lamp or electricity they end up retiring without doing personal studies.
Some government schools do not have enough teachers or books, and this at times make pupils end their class seven education without finishing the syllabus issued by the Ministry of Education.
I have recounted the above circumstances to show two different classes of pupils in our schools today, who are supposed to do the same examinations and also be rated equally without necessarily looking at which side had better facilities.
I am pretty sure that the best schools announced this year would not have held those positions if their pupils did not have learned teachers, enough food, sufficient books and unfriendly studying environment.
I think staff and owners of St. Peter and St Severine (Kagera), Alliance (Mwanza), Sir John (Tanga), Palikas (Shinyanga), Mwanga(Kagera), Hazina and St Anne Marie(Dar es Salaam), Rweikiza (Kagera) and Martin Luther (Dodoma) had all they needed to help their pupils excel. Likewise, ten schools which performed poorly including Nyahaa (Singida), Bosha (Tanga), Ntalasha (Tabora), Kishangazi (Tanga), Mntamba and Ikolo (Singida) Kamwala (Songwe), Kibutuka (Lindi), Mkulumuzi (Tanga) and Kitwai would have performed better, if they had such friendly studying environment like their schools mentioned above.
It is at his stage that NECTA should now start categorizing class seven national examination results to create fairness in these groupings. We need to get separate results of English medium schools, government- run schools, and those run by faith-based organizations.
I believe government-run schools have some intelligent pupils who could pose a big threat to the English medium schools if they could be offered some opportunities.