Dar es Salaam. The National Examination Council of Tanzania (NECTA) announcement that it will no longer announce the best-performing school and student has drawn mixed reactions among Tanzania’s education stakeholders.
On Sunday, while announcing the results of the 2022 Certificate of Secondary Education Exam (CSEE) in Dar es Salaam, NECTA’s acting executive secretary Mr Athumani Amasi said the council will no longer announce the best-performing school and student in the exams.
“Why announce the top schools while there are more than 18,000 schools in the country?” Mr Amasi asked rhetorically during a press conference. “It is like you are marketing the schools [and] I don’t think it is productive.”
With regards to the best student, NECTA thinks there is no benefit in doing so as one cannot announce one student out of all the students in Tanzania who may also have different study environments.
“You mention a person who has led a group that despite having taken the same exam but did not study in the same environment, then you give credit to one person,” Mr Amasi explained.
But the announcement was received with mixed reactions from education stakeholders and the public in general, with some commending the move while others criticising it.
One of those who hailed the announcement is Faraja Nyalandu, executive director of Shule Direct, an online platform that provides educational learning content for students and teachers in secondary schools.
In a Twitter post on Sunday, Nyalandu, who was appointed a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2020, described the decision by NECTA as “good news for [Tanzania’s] education [system].”
“[The announcement means that] there will be no longer the motivation for forcing children to cram and taught for twelve hours so that a school emerges as the best in exams,” Nyalandu said in a Twitter post.
“We should continue to build better teaching foundations that would improve understanding and restore the original logic of going to school,” she added.
Mr Onesmo Mushi, an education activist and researcher, applauded NECTA for its decision to do away with the arrangement to name the best school and student, saying it served no good purpose.
“It was not a good idea to compare able-bodied with those who had their legs cut off and announce that the able-bodied as the winners and thus the best,” Mushi said in a Twitter post, referring to private schools and public schools. “It was hooliganism of meritocracy.”
Dr Mwemezi Rwiza is an educator and researcher who commended NECTA for the decision, saying it wasn’t fair to compare schools that taught using the British system with those which use the NECTA system.
But critics accused NECTA, and the government, of trying to escape from the real issue, which is the under-investment of public schools, and instead address issues that are not important.
“[NECTA’s decision] is equivalent to treating malaria with panadol,” said Ms Rose Mushi, a seasoned development analyst, in a Twitter post. “We should allow our education researchers to analyse our education system and recommends scientific solutions to its problems.”
Semkae Kilonzo, a director of a local think-tank Policy Forum equated NECTA’s decision to stop announcing best-performing schools and students with suppression of information.
“Absolutely controlling the information is to put us in the dark,” Mr Kilonzo said in a Twitter post. “There was still something to learn from the same questionable ranking.”
Some critics pointed out that doing away with the announcement removes the incentives that existed for students to work harder in their lessons.
“Health competition is very important,” Ezekiel Ngitoria, an economist, said in a Twitter post. “Now, you might not like the metrics used in the competition but removing them has unforeseen consequences.”
NECTA’s decision means that 2021 becomes the last year when the best-performing schools and students were announced with Consolata Lubuva emerging as the top student in 2021 Form Four results.
In the results, Kemebos Secondary School in Kagera was named the top school.