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?
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.
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 →
Let’s start with the good news. If you are a final year (St 7) Primary School student in Bukoba Urban, with parents who completed secondary education and who are not very poor, you went to pre-school and your family speaks Swahili at home, then you have a 95% chance of being able to completed Standard 2 level tests in Numeracy, Swahili and English.
And the bad news: If you are a St 7 student in Kibondo District, with parents who didn’t themselves attend school and are poor, the chance of you being able to complete the same tests is only 9%. Continue reading →
It’s Maji Week, so a good time for some more analysis of key water supply issues. Several times this blog has presented arguments that the main challenges in rural water supply are political rather than technical or even administrative. We’ve argued, for example, that two of the biggest problems (inequitable distribution of access to clean and safe water in rural areas and keeping rural waterpoints functioning) are both political issues, and reported on how this perspective is far from the conventional wisdom in the water sector, dominated as it is by engineers and technocrats. And we’ve shown how political attention has failed to match the political nature of the sector by documenting how little focus there was on water supply in last year’s general election campaigns – as reflected both in campaign manifesto commitments or in the media (and again here). But we’ve not yet looked at one of the most politicised aspects of rural water supply – data. Continue reading →
This week saw two announcements relating to education in Tanzania that at first appear to conflict. First, on Monday, it was announced in New York that Tanzania has been awarded a prize for its achievements towards the Millennium Development Goal for education. And then on Tuesday, Uwezo launched a report on educational standards that found, for example, that one in five primary school leavers cannot read at standard 2 level Kiswahili.
Of course there is no real contradiction. Tanzania has put huge efforts and resources into expanding access to both primary and secondary education, with some pretty impressive results (as Uwezo acknowledges), as long as the results you are talking about are increases in enrolment rates. Continue reading →