Thursday, 4 October 2012

Compulsory Education

Wednesday September 3rd

As I have said I am obviously interested as to why there are such age differences in my classes.   Class I ranges from 14 to 20 and Year III from 16 to 20.  I asked today and got part of an answer anyway and that will do for now.

Compulsory education in Tanzania starts at 6 or 7 when a child enters Primary School to follow standard 1.  Children progress through the years with a national test at the end of standard 4 (aged 10 or 11) until they reach standard 7 at the ripe old age of 13 or 14.  Officially, I am told, any pupil who passes standard 7 must then move on to high school into form I, whereas if they fail standard 7 they may leave school.  This didn’t explain though the 20 year old pupils I taught who are all very bright and in no way will have struggled for another four or five years to achieve the necessary standard for high school.   Further questions and hypotheses produced the suggestion that the ‘school bobby’ in Tanzania is not as efficient as he or she should be and it does happen that a family might decide that the child is required at home and simply end their education at 14 without there being much follow up.  The child themselves, or in fact their parent, might decide later in adolescence that an education is, in fact, important, and the young person will enter high school a little later than they should have done.

A good example is Hillaly, by far the cleverest and possibly the nicest boy I teach who happens to be in Form I and is 20 years old.   He was a little embarrassed when I first asked him his age; I think he thought that I might assume he was slow with his work to be so much older.  He explained that in Tanzania when the father gets a new wife he often leaves his children with the old wife (I did explain that this was the same the world over).  He had thus been left with his mother in Dar as Salaam at an early age and the impression I got was that, when she died when he was only 14, he lodged with a series of friends of the family but basically was responsible for himself to make a living as best he could.  As he got older he decided he needed to get qualifications to progress and trained as an electrician, only to find that he needed a high school education to fill in the gaps and complete his vocational training.  He came north and found his father, who is an engineer, and he agreed to fund his son through Boza, and so at twenty years old he finds himself at the start of his secondary career instead of the end.  Through hanging round an Internet cafe where a friend worked in Dar, he has a good knowledge of parts of I.T. and is the one to call when the Internet stops working, but he thirsts for instruction in Word, Excel etc.  He joins me after school on Thursday and we have a session on the computer, usually on Excel, and the speed he absorbs information is amazing. He certainly gives me yet one more good reason for being here.

For those not involved in education, I’m sorry if today’s offering was a bit dry.  I’ll talk about the chucks tomorrow.


No comments:

Post a Comment