What’s going on in our schools? Citizens reflect on the state of education

Only 1 out of 10 citizens think that most children who finish Standard 2 are able to read and do maths at Standard 2 level. Even worse, only 3 out of 10 (31%) think that these children should be able to perform at the right level; meaning that citizens have no expectation that the education system will actually teach children the skills it is supposed to.

These findings were released by Twaweza in a research brief titled What’s going on in our schools: citizens reflect on the state of education. The brief is based on data from Sauti za Wananchi, Africa’s first nationally representative mobile phone survey that polls households across Mainland Tanzania.

The brief examines the state of schools, learning practice and parents’ involvement in their children’s education. Despite low expectations from the education system, parents often do play their part in promoting learning. Seven out of ten pupils report that their parents review their exercise books most of the time or always.

Teachers, naturally, also have an essential role to play in whether children are learning in schools. However they cannot perform this function if they are not in class. Only 3 out of 10 students confirmed that their main teacher was in class for the whole previous day of school. Most (4 out of 10, 38%) report that their teacher was not in class at all and the remaining 3 out of 10 (28%) say that the teacher was only in class for part of the day.

Sauti za Wananchi also asked questions about the conditions in primary schools. Almost all (99%) pupils are taught in classrooms, not outside, and 9 out of 10 (91%) sit on a bench or desk in school. However only half of them (49%) reported receiving food at school. Although chairs and classrooms are unlikely to impact learning levels, when children are hungry they will be less able to take in new knowledge.

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Authors: Elvis Mushi



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