With Tanzania’s parliamentary budget session in progress at the moment, Mwananchi newspaper’s resident cartoonist, Masoud Kipanya, has found a new theme – budget bling. I think it’s a powerful one, and judging by the number of times these have appeared in my twitter feed and facebook timeline, I’m not alone.
(For non Swahili-speakers, “serikali” means government.)
Hello, yes, donors, yes, as usual, my budget has dropped.
Uwezo released their latest report last week, looking at learning outcomes across Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. They surveyed well over 300,000 children aged 6 to 16, across all but a handful of districts in these three countries, with each child taking a short test in maths, English and Swahili (other local language in Uganda).
The tests are designed in line with the Standard 2 syllabus – though the vast majority of children taking participating are in higher classes.
Here’s my favourite chart from the report, showing test pass rates for older children (10+) in each country and each subject.
1. The chart suggests the quality of primary education is higher in Kenya than in either Tanzania or Uganda. (Though none of the results are “good”: even the top score in the chart (74%) means a quarter of children over 10 in Kenya can’t read very basic Swahili).
2. Tanzania is doing really, really badly at teaching English. With Secondary Schools using English as the medium of instruction, this could go a long way towards explaining the appallingly bad Form 4 exam results.
Is it time to reconsider the use of English in Secondary Schools? Or to focus a big push on improving English teaching in Primary Schools? Or both?
More data journalism from Raia Mwema newspaper this week, again on the front page and drawing as before on data from the Listening to Dar survey panel. This time, the topic is the changes to the grading system for form four exams (see here for details).
I’ve translated the charts here, including the odd design choices (beware of wedges that are not in the most logical order), and a scan of the original is pasted below:
from Raia Mwema newspaper, 9/4/14
from Raia Mwema newspaper, 9/4/14
First, there is a clear majority (54% against 41%) that says the better performance in 2013 (under the new grading system) does not mean students have really done better.
And second, a similar majority (62% to 36%) says that the changes to the grading system will not improve the performance of students.
Inequality in learning outcomes. Source: Jones et al
So what does it tell us? Well, the main conclusion as far as Tanzania is concerned is that less-poor children do a lot better in the Uwezo tests. In all four charts above, the percentage of children who passed the tests was much higher for non-poor children than for the poor.
This may not sound surprising. But what I think makes it particularly interesting is that in Kenya and Uganda, the difference in pass rates between poor and non-poor children were much smaller. In other words, the disadvantage of being from a poor family in Tanzania is worse than the disadvantage of being from a poor family in Uganda or Kenya.
HakiElimu published a statement last week on the allocation of new primary school teachers to different regions, including this chart:
Pupil teacher ratios in Tanzanian primary schools, by region, 2013 and 2014. Source: HakiElimu
Their main point is that although the teacher-pupil ratio has dropped in most regions, there doesn’t seem to be any effort to send new teachers to the regions where they are needed most. Even in regions where the ratio is below the national target of 1:40, more new teachers are being added – see Pwani, Morogoro, Iringa, Kilimanjaro, Katavi, Arusha – while regions like Tabora, Mara, Geita, Mwanza and Kagera remain below the target.
They are talking about the latest set of Uwezo results, which came out this week for Tanzania, and a week earlier for Uganda. For those who are unfamiliar, Uwezo is a large annual survey of primary school-age children in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, asking them to complete short tests in English, Swahili and numeracy, based on Standard 2 curriculum. The idea is to see whether children are actually learning in school, rather than simply whether they are attending school. The latest reports are for surveys carried out in 2012, and the results are not good. Continue reading →