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FACTORS AFFECTING PUPILS PERFORMANCE IN FIRST SCHOOL LEAVING EXAMINATION (PSLE) IN RUANGWA District, LINDI REGION, TANZANIA
1.1 Background to the Problem
Education is a process by which the individual acquires knowledge and skills necessary for appreciating and adapting to environment and the ever- changing social, political and economic conditions of a society and as a means by which one can realize one’s full potential. It provides desirable and worthwhile broad and in depth modes of thought, skills, attitudes and understanding needed for the full development of human thinking and actions; it embodies within it science and technology [Education and Training Policy (ETP), 1995]. The main delivery system for the basic education of children, outside the family, is primary schooling. The major objective of pre-school and primary education is to lay the social cultural foundations which ethically and morally characterize the Tanzanian citizen and nation.
It prepares every citizen to continue on the unending journey of lifelong education, training and learning processes. Primary school education is fundamental to the strengthening of higher levels of education, laying strong foundations in scientific and technological literacy and capacity and thus a means to self-reliant for personal and national development (ETP, 1995). Primary school education consists of 7 years of basic education after pre-primary. This education is universal and compulsory to all school age going children in Tanzania. The main objective of primary education is to lay the social-cultural foundations which ethically and morally characterize a nation. This education is intended to enable every child to acquire broad and integrated knowledge, skills and understanding needed for survival, conservation of the environment and life-long education. These goals, however, cannot be achieved without a well established and effective management and administrative machinery. Primary schooling system was intended to enable every child to acquire basic learning tools of literacy, communication, numeracy and problem solving as well as basic learning content of integrated relevant knowledge, skills and attitudes needed for survival and development to full capacity. In addition, it was meant to provide the child with the foundation of self-initiatives, self-advancement, and self-confidence and to prepare a child for secondary level education (ETP, 1995). The current performance of pupils in Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) especially for public schools found in less developed areas and in rural areas leaves a lot of questions as to whether the intended targets of primary schooling are being achieved! Such questions, in turn raise doubts on the quality of education embedded in many public primary schools.
Paper one of the global monitoring reports presented in Education For All (EFA) meeting on 1/3/2004 identifies six perspectives of measuring education quality, namely; the productivity view, instrumental effectiveness view, adaptation perspective view, equity perspective view, efficiency perspective and disjointed view. This study opted to use the perspective of productivity view but with reference to PSLE as a measure of education quality. According to this view, the success of the systems is seen as depending on the attainment of the aspired outputs/outcomes. For example in the sense of a satisfactory quantity of school-leavers that have attained a specific level (which may be formalised as a diploma), or in terms of an acceptable level of employment of students with a certain diploma, or in terms of performance in examinations. According to this view output/outcome/impact indicators are predominant or even the only type of quality indicators that need to be monitored. The introduction and application of performance standards is closely related to the productivity view of educational quality. Basically performance standards are norms, cutting scores or “thresholds” defined on a specific output, outcome or impact indicator. Although, pupils’ performance in PSLE may not be the true reflection of their ability and quality education, however, it is the closest indicator of the extent of the pupils’ achievement in a given level of education. The decision to use PSLE as a measure of performance should be based on what the purpose of the exam is and the uses that will be made of its results. If the purpose is only to check on factual and procedural knowledge, if the PSLE will not have a major effect on overall curriculum and instruction, and if conclusions about what pupils know in a subject will not be reduced to what the exam measures, then a PSLE might be somewhat helpful provided it is unbiased, well written and related to the curriculum.
If they substantially control curriculum or instruction, or are the basis of major conclusions that are reported to the public, or are used to make important decisions about pupils, then PSLE are quite dangerous. To this point in time, get aside the critiques of using PSLE as a measure of performance because there are no other officially established mechanisms that are used in selection of pupils to further levels. Therefore, this study, intends to explore the Factors Affecting Pupils’ Performance in PSLE in Ruangwa District Lindi Region, Tanzania.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
It is not possible to ensure desirable performance in education without at the same time ensuring the availability and equitable distribution of resources. Critical resources, in this regard, include teachers, teaching and learning materials, school equipment and financial resources. Therefore, the government has to ensure that adequate resources are made available and provided to enhance better performance in education. The Government of Tanzania in collaboration with other stake holders of education has done a lot to gain improvement in the education sector but most efforts are in vain because the performance in many public primary schools especially those located in rural areas does match the financial, physical and social resources allocated for the education sector. Ruangwa district is not an exceptional as far as deteriorations in primary school performance is concerned. The increase in allocation of fund for primary schools in Ruangwa district is reflected in the increase of social and physical infrastructures for the duration of five years, that is, from 2010 to 2015. For example, classrooms increased from 411 to 474, desks from 8135 to 9461, teachers from 458 to 663, pupils’ pit latrines from 408 to 467, teachers’ houses from 171 to 182, pupils’ book ratio improved from 1:5 to 1:3 and pupils- teachers’ ratio improved from 1:53 to 1:38 (Department of primary education, Semiannual report, 2015) but such increase is not reflected in the performance of PSLE. For example the average performance in PSLE in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 was 37.9%, 52.8%, 36%, 17.7% and 42.3% respectively. These results have the mean of 37.6% who passed PSLE and joined secondary schools with proportion of 62.4% who fail. Such poor performance which does not match the resources allocated for education signals something wrong. Therefore, this study aimed to explore factors that inhibit proper performance in PSLE.