Although every child in Tanzania in Standard 3 or above should have mastered core literacy and numeracy skills at the Standard 2 level, the reality falls far short of this goal. Over the past three years literacy levels have remained low and largely unchanged, but results for children’s numeracy skills are showing improvement. The following five facts on learning outcomes and five facts on learning environments highlight some of the most important results from the 2012 assessment2.
FIVE FACTS about learning:
FACT 1: Only one in four children in Standard 3 can read a Standard 2 story in Kiswahili.
Very few children are learning to read in early primary school. Nationally, only 1 in 4 children in Standard 3 can read a Standard 2 level story in Kiswahili. It is not until Standard 5 that a majority of students can read at Standard 2 level.
FACT 2: Four out of ten children in Standard 3 are able to do multiplication at Standard 2 level.
More children seem to be acquiring number skills sooner. Pass rates for the numeracy test in 2012 were higher across all grades. For example, 44% of students in Standard 3 passed the numeracy test compared with 37% in 2011. However the 2012 assessment excluded seven districts and these results will need to be further confirmed in future years.
FACT 3: Less than one out of ten children in Standard 3 can read a Standard 2 level English story
Competence in reading and comprehending a story in English remains low. Uwezo 2012 confirmed that rates of English literacy are significantly poorer than rates of Kiswahili literacy in all classes. By Standard 7, half of all students leaving primary school have not acquired basic English reading skills, which is the medium of instruction in secondary school.
FACT 4: Where a child lives can effect if and when they learn to read and do arithmetic.
Data for 2012 confirm clearly the regional, district and urban-rural disparities in children’s learning outcomes. In general, children who live in urban districts performed better in the assessment than children who live in rural districts.
FACT 5: On average, seven out of ten children in Tanzania do not know the meaning of three colours on the national flag.
The national flag is everywhere in Tanzania, particularly in school environments. But do children understand the significance of the colours of the flag? Findings show that 69% of children aged 7 to 16 cannot explain the meaning of the three major colours on the flag. Disparities exist between those enrolled in school or those out of school as well as between rural and urban areas.
5 FACTS ABOUT LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS
FACT 1: Class sizes are still too large. In 2012, for every teacher in government primary schools there were more than 47 students.
The pupil-teacher ratio of 47:1 observed during the 2012 assessment was almost unchanged from 2011 (48:1). Of note, with the lowest pupil-teacher ratio (34:1) in the country, Dar es Salaam Region outperformed all other regions in all three tests (Kiswahili, English and Numeracy). There is very little improvement in teacher absenteeism fom 19% in 2011 to 18% in 2012. This means that almost 1 in 5 teachers were absent on the day of the Uwezo assessment.
FACT 2: Resources to support learning vary significantly by region.
As with the majority of school facilities, there is large regional variation in the number of pupils using one textbook between them. In Dar es Salaam, 14 pupils share one textbook compared with 41 pupils for each textbook in Kigoma Region. Even in the best performing region, Dar es Salaam, too many pupils share too few books.
FACT 3: Nationally, only 4 out of 10 government primary schools have access to clean drinking water.
School conditions can have adverse impacts on learning outcomes. Lack of drinking water is a key indicator in terms of school environment and has a high possibility of negatively affecting children’s abilities to absorb new knowledge at school.
FACT 4: Feeding programs are provided by 3 out of 10 of schools nationally.
Nationally 29% of schools provide feeding programs. This figure masks significant regional differences: no schools in Kigoma provide such a program while 79% of schools in Kilimanjaro do.
FACT 5: On average, 3 of 10 schools have libraries.
All schools are meant ot have libraries, but many don’t, and there are vast disparities across the country. In Kagera Region 67% of government primary schools have a library, while in Lindi only 5% do.