Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Schools in Dodoma, Tanzania

So far we have visited 4 different schools in Dodoma. Our decision to visit 4 different schools proved vital since every school had something different to offer. We visited 1 Primary and 1 Secondary school is each public and private category.
To begin with, let me explain the schooling system in Tanzania. Here Standard 1 to Standard 7 is considered Primary school. There is a big difference in private and primary school system. From free education (though they accept donations) to a very costly private school education that costs upto 900,000 TSH every year the difference was prevalent in everything. Most of the public primary schools teach in Swahili medium whereas private schools teach in English medium. Though I must say; almost all Teachers understand and can speak English.
So, after primary school, if you wish to enroll in public secondary school you should apply to Central Board of education and they do selection for you. We were told that earlier the government had this idea of ‘National Integration’ and hence the Central Board wanted to make sure that students from different regions mingle and study in different areas of country. Residential Public schools still follow this system. Private schools have their own criteria to admit students. Secondary school is for 4 years. They call it Form I to Form IV. Here students can take courses related to Science, Mathematics and Biology along with Social Science subjects.
After Secondary school, you can either go to Advanced Secondary school or enroll for Diploma courses. This is for 2 years. Diploma courses give you additional knowledge in terms of job specific skills helpful for small and medium industries.
After Advanced secondary school, students apply to universities. Some universities have entrance tests. ICT course is the buzz these days but in general Business Management and Humanities looks popular. Not many students go for Higher studies, but Government and Universities are doing heavy investment to boost the student enrollment in Masters programs.
First school we visited was Msalato Secondary Schools near Dodoma. The headmistress was so helpful that we could spend a good 2 hours talking to her about education system and challenges related to book keeping. It was a government residential girls school.
Then we visited Martin Luther School. It was a private primary school and it was evident from the building and security outside. We were surprised to see the huge difference in tuition fees, but the processes and facilities that private school provided was worth that money.
After a gap of a week, we visited one public primary school and a private secondary school. Scene was so different here. Public school deals with a different set of problems than that of private schools. I still struggle to understand the funding arrangements of public schools.
So, the fun part of our visits was the greetings by students and a few clicks and gifts that some of our team members distributed. Kids were so curious to know why we visit their school. They responded with a huge Hiii .. and Byeee .. when I called them. For a moment it reminded me of schools where we used to recite poems after our teacher. World is a small place. Though systems are different, kids and their behavior looked same everywhere. And we were so lucky to experience that here.

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