“EDUCATION is life” is the motto for a certain school in Yombo-Kilakala. But, what bothers me very much is the quality of education offered by the school. Judging from its infrastructure, number of teachers as compared to that of students, then a lot leaves to be desired.
Every time final results are released, be they Standard Seven, Form Four or A’ Level, we cry foul, blaming each other for the failure. Each and every sector of the society will be trying very hard to exonerate itself from blame to an extent that we turn a blind eye on reality.
Recent reports in the media of a Dar es Salaam school were shocking to say the least. I know many people are wondering why I am saying the story was shocking because to them it’s a tired story. It is now part of our culture. It’s true that not only are our media awash with such stories, but we have living examples of ramshackles we easily pass for schools.
About 720 pupils at Saranga Primary School in Kinondoni Municipality have no choice but to endure the pain of squatting on the floor for about eight hours of learning daily. This makes going to school a punishment to these innocent children whose hope for a better tomorrow is pinned on passing examinations.
As if this is not enough, the school faces an acute shortage of classrooms, with 1, 080 pupils sharing 10 classrooms. To add insult to an injury, the school has only two holes they share as toilets thereby putting their lives in danger as they risk contracting diseases such as cholera. What is more disturbing is that even teachers join their students in the scramble, pushing and shoving for a chance to use the facility.
The school also faces an acute shortage of both learning and teaching facilities. What is more painful is that this is not only confined to this school. This is just a tip of the iceberg as we have similar or even worse conditions in some urban and rural schools.
This is undoubtedly one of the reasons most our children fail to make it to the promised land after dismally failing their final exams. Judging by the time a student spends at school and the presence of many private colleges that purport to offer extra lessons for the students, then our pass rates should be higher than what they are today.
How can we expect our students to pass their examinations if they are learning under pathetic conditions? For students to queue up to relieve themselves is a mockery, not only of our education system, but to the country as a whole.
Our students, mostly those coming from the lower classes, have no option but to attend school under appalling conditions. We are sick and tired of our media being awash with news of schools operating either with one teacher, without enough classrooms and desks, without toilets or without even a single textbook.
The revelation saw the government, through the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, admitting that the situation is an embarrassment. “We are doing what we can to find a lasting solution to this problem,” Minister Jumanne Maghembe was quoted as saying.
I know this is a problem that cannot be solved overnight but there is need to set standards which each and every school should strive to adhere to. Failure to do that, the schools should be closed and the responsible authorities and societies forced to chip in and address the problems.
Recently, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare embarked on a crackdown on substandard and unlicenced health institutions, some of which were being operated by bogus doctors.
Many dispensaries were found wanting and were closed as they were a danger to the health of wananchi. The same can be done with schools, especially those backyard institutions operated by bogus teachers.
The proliferation of private colleges and those good-for-nothing money-generating projects called 'Tuition Centres' should be scrutinized. Such institutions, instead of adding value to our education system, seem to be adding confusion to it.
Most of them are manned by inexperienced and unqualified teachers. The owners of such institutions might be teachers themselves but they usually enroll unqualified teachers (school leavers ) to come and teach so that they can underpay them and maximize profits.
To tell the truth, the primary motive for the establishment of these institutions is to make money. There is not much supervision and these people know that they won’t be held responsible for the failure of students because what they only do is to offer extra lessons. This, therefore, means that since they won’t be held accountable, then they can get away with it and make money.
What a shame. Many parents with the zeal to have their children get educated for them to have a better future, waste a lot of their hard-earned cash to pay for extra lessons that end up confusing their children.
The responsible authorities should borrow a leaf from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and visit these tuition centres and I bet my last cent that what they will come up with will be shocking. It won’t be surprising if some institutions are run by Form Four school leavers who do not have any training at all.
This, therefore, calls for guidelines, conditions and pre-requisites for the establishment of such centres. This will add value to our education system and improve our pass rates. Education will then truly become life.
I believe that the school I mentioned above and all others that share the same motto should change it from “Education is Life” to “Education is a Formality”. No one will fault them for doing that because that is the truth.
Enough is enough. Something must be done to improve our education. In fact we are tired of these so-called teachers passing on their ignorance to our children. In the end, the students will remain as ignorant as their teachers. God bless us.