Tanzania Textbooks, Curriculum and Politics: A Documentary Analysis

Tanzania Textbooks, Curriculum and Politics: A Documentary Analysis

Mussa S. Muneja (University of Arusha, Tanzania)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8162-0.ch016
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The chapter explored the importance of textbook authorship in the context of Tanzania's competence based curriculum. The study utilized a documentary analysis where literatures from local and global perspective were scrutinized. In order to enhance the findings, five teachers with a long experience in teaching were purposively sampled and interviewed. The findings indicate most teachers are not empowered in the art and science of writing textbooks; teachers are largely excluded in textbook evaluation; gender imbalance in textbooks is a widespread global issue; corruption is widespread in textbook industry. The study recommends a constructive way forward according to the findings.
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Tanzania, like Nigeria and Rwanda, has embarked on an ambitious developmental initiative that has been borrowed from Malaysia. This initiative is called Big Results Now (BRN). The United Kingdom UK will provide the Government of Tanzania with £4.95 million for a duration of 10 years (Business Case, 2013).

The aim of BRN program is to make a transition of the country from low to middle-income economy by 2025. The program was launched by President Dr. Mrisho J. Kikwete in February 2013 (PMORALG, 2013). Furthermore, BRN has six priority areas of the economy namely,(i). Energy and natural gas (ii). Agriculture (iii). Water (iv) Education (v). Transport (vi). Mobilization of resources.

Six months later, the Minister of Education and Vocational Training (MoEVT), Dr. Shukuru Kawambwa presented a keynote speech in Dar es Salaam, (PMORALG, 2013). The speech was presented to various educational stakeholders to jumpstart BRN in the education sector. It is interesting that the speech was presented in about 90 days before the commencement of the National Form Four Examinations. Within this short time span National Form Four results were expected to mount from 40% to 60%! (MoEVT, 2013). The speech began with an introduction that invited the stakeholders to buy and own the initiative.

After that the speech outlined educational achievements in primary schools such as increase of enrollment from 2005 to 2011 by 10%; increase of 1744 primary schools in the last five years; increase of students who finish primary schools from 493, 636 in 2005 to 16,001 in 2011; increase of teachers from 135,013 in 2005 to 175, 449 in 2011, and the improvement of the ratio between teacher and student at 1:56 in 2005 to 1:48. These improvements however appear to be more quantitative than qualitative as the challenges revealed later.

Furthermore there was a discussion on improvements done in Secondary and Teachers Training Colleges; this follows more or less similar patterns to the above. The speech continues to salute the government for what has been done; nevertheless what remains ahead is more critical than what has been done. Thereafter the speech turned to outline the challenges that face the Education sector in the wake of BRN. The challenges outlined were i) inadequate enrollment of kindergarten pupils, ii) students overcrowding in schools, iii) shortage of teachers for science subjects, iv) shortage of teachers’ houses, vi) shortage of desks, vi) depreciation of infrastructures, vii) fewer toilets, viii) lack of teaching and learning materials, ix) poor performance in examinations, and x) Increase of learners who do not know how to read and write.

After that the speech began to address how the challenges are going to be met by BRN. There are 10 challenges but eight of them were addressed. Within these eight, about three of them on infrastructure were combined. A plain reading indicates some aspects are simply mentioned as challenges but are not addressed at all. For example, on the addressed challenges, the aspect of the shortage of teachers for science subjects is seen as a problem of awareness, and not lack of adequate salaries and other fringe benefits, or working environments. Another example is on aspects that were not addressed at all, teaching materials inadequacy in terms of quality. Also there was no indication in the speech that teachers were going to have better salaries; instead they were told that the delayed benefits shall be given. In the speech there was no indication to answer the question as to why illiteracy is currently at 31% while during era of the first president, Mwl. Julius. K Nyerere, it was almost made a history. Moreover the issues of textbooks and curriculum are not discussed at all while this matter caused Education Materials Approval Committee to be dissolved almost two months before the speech was given. In addition to that the speech does not tell how education programs that were established in 2002 in the reign of President William Mkapa will intersect with BRN. What will be the continuities and discontinuities or the former programs are discarded. These programs were the Primary Educational Development program/plan (MMEM) and Secondary education Development program/plan (MMES) (United Republic of Tanzania, 2006).1

Key Terms in this Chapter

Gender: Is a cultural construct which assigns roles according to sex type.

Liberalization: Is process of increasing freedom for more players to involve in a certain decision.

Textbooks: Are stipulated learning materials in form of books.

Author: Refers to a person who has written a publication.

Corruption: It is an act of being dishonest by those in power, typically involving bribery.

Curriculum: Is the totality of what happens in a school setting.

Evaluation: Is a process of assessing a particular educational process.

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