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NGO to conduct children learning assessment
10 March 2011
Tanzania Daily News

Dar es Salaam: At least 80,000 households in 133 districts are expected to be covered by a research aimed at testing reading and basic arithmetic capacity of children aged between five and 16 years.  ‘'We are embarking on the second annual assessment after the release and dissemination of the findings from the maiden one in 2010 where we covered 38 districts," the Uwezo Research Manager, Dr Grace Soko said.

Speaking during the countrywide learning assessment launch at the national training for co-ordinators from all districts, Dr Soko said that they would train volunteers by starting on a household listing exercise.

She said unlike last year, where one set of test was used, the current one would have four sets of tests for children since there was duplication of results and the children were found to be copying from each other.

‘'We plan to repeat the survey each year to create and sustain momentum of change, but largely so that we can determine if poor performance of pupils in standard seven is a result of a bad foundation,'' she explained.

Dr Soko said when the survey was conducted in 2010, findings showed after visiting 22,800 households in 38 districts that one in five primary school leavers cannot read Standard 2 level Kiswahili.

‘'Even though Kiswahili is the national language and widely spoken across the country, a large number of children are not able to read it fluently,'' Dr Soko elaborated.

In the study, less than half (42.2 per cent) of children surveyed were able to read stories, whereas all children in Standard III should be able to read at the Standard 2 story level, less than 1 in 3 (32.7 per cent) can.

Most children do not learn to read a simple story until Standard V or VI. The findings showed that half of the children who complete primary school cannot read English and that only seven in 10 primary school leavers can do Standard II level mathematics.

It cited that even though multiplication is in the Standard II curriculum, hardly any Standard II children can multiply and that more than half of them cannot even do addition and substract.

The findings showed that one in 10 children complete primary school with no mathematics skills at all; and cannot even do basic addition which means that the majority of them enter secondary school without adequate foundation in mathematics that is essential for learning and analysis, particularly in science and commerce.

Other findings include that children studying in urban areas tended to do better than those in rural areas where statistics showed that the former pass rate is between seven to ten per cent higher than the latter.

The 2010 survey also showed that female pupils tended to pass better than their male counterparts. Statistics showed that of the 42,033 tested, 43.5 per cent girls were able to read in Kiswahili as compared to 40.7 per cent boys.

It also showed that children whose mothers had completed secondary school education tended to perform better than others hence stressing that education for mothers is important for the child.

Dr Soko said that in Standard 3, 7 out of every 10 children cannot read basic Swahili, 9 out of every 10 children cannot read Basic English, and 8 out of every 10 children cannot do basic mathematics.

Keywords: education, Tanzania
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