Challenges in the community
According to the national education and training policy of 1995, the primary education starts at pre-primary school and it is expected that every primary school should have pre-primary classes. Bukoba town has a total of 26 pre-primary schools with a total of 1,114 pupils, out of whom 579 are boys and 535 are girls.
The town has 29 primary schools with a total of 17,210 pupils of whom 8,620 are girls and 8,590 are boys. Six of the schools are private schools and the remaining 23 are run by the government. There are also 2 special education schools for physically handicapped, the mentally retarded, the deaf and the blind. The two schools have a total of 161 pupils of which 66 are girls and 95 are boys.
The above data on primary schools in Bukoba clearly shows that the number of pupils far exceeds the number of schools. This means that the schools are usually overpopulated with an average of 593 pupils per school – 84 pupils per classroom. From this, it can be concluded that the pupils are not given individual attention by the teachers, and therefore, there is a need for the construction of more primary schools.
The living conditions in most of these schools are very poor. The toilets are in pathetic conditions and they are not enough, because with these large numbers of pupils, there are only four toilets -2 for boys and 2 for girls. There is an immediate need for the construction of toilets in most of the government schools.
The girl-child education has been advocated for hence the increase of the number of girls in the primary school level. However, some of these girls drop-out before they even attain their primary certificate of education. The reasons for dropping out from school for most of the girls are:
· Poverty in the family;
· Early marriages; and
· Low levels of education in the family where they regard a girl in the reproductive and not the productive sense.
The lessons in primary schools in Tanzania are mostly conducted in Kiswahili language after which the pupils sit for their exams in the same language. The problem comes in when the pupils are enrolled in secondary schools whereby the lessons are conducted in the English language. This becomes very difficult for the children. There arises a problem with the children being unable to understand fully what the teachers teach.
However, there has been a rise in the springing up of English Medium Primary schools where the children are taught in English language. These schools are expensive and not many middle class parents can afford to take their children to these schools. When they are through with their primary education and get enrolled in secondary schools, they do not have to overcome the problem of English language used in the secondary schools like their counterparts from the public schools. This creates a gap between those who have attended the public and the private primary schools.
HI has come up with a solution on how to help out these children from the public schools. This can only be done with the introduction of English language to upper classes (Standard six and seven) in primary schools. The teachers will be tutored on how to introduce, teach and train the children in both written and spoken English. It will ensure that the children are able to understand better when they get to secondary school, and better results will be expected.
HI therefore, in conjunction with other NGOs, the Bukoba Municipal Council, all the stakeholders and the community focus on primary education efforts on:
· helping to improve learning outcomes particularly among the poor and the disadvantaged;
· help improve the performance sector management in support of learning outcomes;
· support improvement of the pathetic conditions of the toilets in the primary schools;
· assist on a course for the upper classes (standard six and seven) English language promotion in the primary schools; and
· help with the installation and availability of piped water at the institutions.
Benefits of primary education
With good primary education knowledge on health issues will increase. This will improve the health situation and reduces HIV/AIDS. Educated mothers are 50% more likely to immunize their children than mothers with no schooling. Acquisition of literacy and numeracy, especially by women has an impact upon fertility as cognitive skills required to make informed choices about HIV/Aids risk and behaviour are strongly related to levels of education and literacy.
Increases agricultural productivity and reduces malnutrition. But education should be measured in terms of attainment of basic skills and not in years spent in school.
More productive farming due to increased female education accounts for 43% of the decline in malnutrition. Failure to educate girls and women perpetuates needless hunger. Women’s education has contributed most in reducing malnutrition and has increased food availability.
Primary education raises productivity and income. There is good evidence to suggest that the quality of education – as measured by test scores – has an influence upon the speed with which societies can become richer and the extent to which individuals can improve their own productivity and incomes. It is well established that the distribution of personal incomes in society is strongly related to the amount of education people have had. The quality of the labour force, as measured by mathematics and science scores, is an important determinant of growth – thus the potential to alleviate poverty. Achievement of continuous and rapid growth in every country cannot be reached without an adult literacy rate of at least 40%.There is a strong relationship between measures of literacy in the labour force and economic growth.