Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Teachers' Recruitment: Lack of Common Sense?

The current news regarding Bongoland education is that the government has drown a short-term plan (or better suitably a zima moto plan) to recruit about 3,500 students holding an advanced certificate in secondary education to undergo a one month training, with the expectation that these young men and women would fill the government's demand for more secondary school teachers.

The strategy could be viewed by many as brilliant, particularly by those school kids who are in a dire need of having someone called a teacher to quench their thirst for information and knowledge ( I can't blame them). Nonetheless, the move smells of more trouble than the projected success. The strategy, if anything, would only result into a short-term superficial success story.

My position is based on the past similar experiences that resulted in a disappointing outcome. The government, in its bid to curb similar shortage of teachers that primary schools experienced in the past, embarked on a Universal Primary Education (UPE) drum beats. In the execution of the plan, the government employed the services of "failed" standard seven leavers to teach, hoping these same fellas would enable our growing kids to achieve what they had failed to do. As it is uttered by one of the cartoon characters used by Guiness to advertised their beer (the commercial is aired in the United States), I would also sarcastically utter the same line: "Brilliant!". As it was later to be found, the "brilliance" of the UPE idea only turned into failure. Sadly, we are repeating the same mistake (the Minister for Education, Mrs. Sitta claims otherwise, but who wouldn't support their own initiative?)

It appears though, that the underlying problem is the failure of the Tanzania government to draw a clear, consistent policy on every key area, such as education and health. Consequently, a change in the personality (minister) leading those areas, typically result in a change in the ministry's vision (a typical example is the syllabus change that the Minister of Education during Phase III government brought into place, only to be scrapped by the subsequent leadership). That lack of clear and consistent policy has resulted in the failure of the government to formulate intelligent strategies in order to achieve its vision.

Another problem could be that our government is just so much in love with the zima moto approach. I setting up the Secondary Education Development Program (SEDP), the government surely knew the projected number of secondary schools to be increased. Isn't it a common sense approach to also draw a long-term plan to increase the number of teachers to cover the expected increase in the number of students? The government did not realize overnight that the there is a shortage of teachers, did they?

So here is the visionary and strategic problem with the current approach: Increasing the number of teachers would only solve a quantitive problem, but not a qualitive problem. My conviction is that a good educational system is the one that covers both the quantitative aspects - number of teachers, classrooms, textbooks etc, and the qualitative aspect - the qualification of teachers, context and content of the knowledge etc. As such, hiring "unprepared" young men and women to teach is a sure program to engage the educational quality in a free fall gear. My question would be: Was this a long-term vision of the Ministry of education when they formulated SEDP? If not, then somebody must have been smoking crack when the strategy of hiring A Level students to teach was initiated (given the government's knowledge of the past experiences).

Key question of the day: If the government knew, way back, that they were planning to increase the number of enrolled students in secondary schools, where was the corresponding plan to increase the number of teachers?

Vitu vingine ni "common sense", lakini inaonekana "common sense" inawapiga chenga viongozi wetu...hasa wa hii Wizara ya Elimu. If you have consistently failed to use common sense, I am justified to call you an idiot.

Note: I understand that the current Ministry of Education's leadership could be trying to clean up the mess created in the past. I also understand that the impromptu decisions made by the Prime Minister to enroll students could have pushed the Ministry of Education to the limit...nonetheless, I wonder if the future will be brighter given that failed strategies are being applied.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

jaduong kanyo ayie kodi ahinya
actually am one of the people involved in this plan since i work in one of the teachers colleges in bongoland.the issue itself is very discouraging.currently the government is trying to clean up one such mess. kuna programme mmoja inaitwa 'muka'sijui kama umewahi isikia about upgrading upe teachers so that they can now have a valid grade A certificates to qualify as primary teachers.it costs alot of money and it because of the zimamoto style you've just mentioned.yaani it is very frustrating i took four years at a university to become a secondary school teacher some one will take only amonth to be able to do the same job.and even our salary won't differ that much.we will share the same staff room na huyu mtu ni formsix failure i got my first class to be admitted to the university.hivi kweli hii serikali ya akina kikwete ndo maisha bora kwa kila mtanzania.!!!?
so far i've seen that this government won't be different from the previous three kama mambo yenyewe ndo haya.
worse enough tanzanians are so blinded by kiwete's personality that he can't do anything wrong now. not a single word has been uttered to criticize any of his propasals to date
kitu kingine jaduong the so called rapid teachers are not even prepared to go to the remote areas they are earmarked for, they all want to remain the urban centres kwa hiyo kitakachofanyika ni kuwa wakishapata hiyo licence kuteach wataenda kwenye private schools amabzo na zenyewe zinamushroom huku bongo na ambao wanataka kutengeneza profit kwa kuajiri cheap labor na hawa ndo watakuwa ideal candidates kwanza kwa sababu wana government aproved license to teach halafu bei yao si ghali kama real qualified teachers.kwa hili sijaona tofauti ya mungai na mama sitta
oriti kuom sani jaduaong.