Monday, May 13, 2013

May 13, 2013 - Education in Tanzania

I have started to look into possibilities for more regular work here in the education sector of development.  There are no specific job prospects out there but I am circulating my resume and talking to a few people, so that is good.  And from the research I did intially when we moved here and I applied for a few different jobs with development partners coupled with some of the conversations I am having and things I am reading now, it is clear that the system of education in this country is so deeply flawed that I actually wonder how and when it will ever change. 

A fellow expat blogger recently wrote about corporal punishment.  You might recall from our Kenyan days that while I was proud of Kenya for making corporal punishment illegal, I was appalled at how widespread the practice still was (blogged here).  Well, in Tanzania they tried outlawing corporal punishment but recently decided to reinstitute the practice legally.  One reason they gave is that with 70% of students failing their national exams (which the government has recently decided to just nullify altogether) those students must be doing so poorly because they were NOT threatened by the cane!  In order to perform well in school, people here honestly believe that the students must be caned.

And when you meet adult Tanzanians, if you find them to be conflict-averse, good at following instructions to the letter (when they understand the instructions) but unable to critically or creatively think for themselves...they are very likely to have been students in the country's public schools.  I don't know if it is the same in private schools...but if Tanzania is anything like Kenya the problem exists there as well.

I am not trying to offend Tanzanians...who we find to be friendly and kind and not nearly as brusque as Kenyans...because it is certainly through no fault of their own. We interviewed a cook this weekend (who we are considering hiring) who is from Malawi and he has lived here for 20 years. He still sends his children back to Malawi for public school because, even though Malawi is a poorer, less developed country, he believes their education system is much better than Tanzania's.  Corruption is a very big part of the problem here and it is a sad state of affairs for sure.

As my blogger friend writes,
"If you were trying to design an educational system to more efficiently drive creativity, inquisitiveness, and love of learning out of students, you would have a hard time topping Tanzany."


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