Factors affecting students academic achievement in secondary schools in Tanzania

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Sokoine University of Agriculture


This study was conducted in the ten secondary schools in three regions namely Dar es Salaam, Morogoro and Tanga. Of the ten surveyed schools, five of them were in Dar Es Salaam region and these included Azania, Jangwani, Kinondoni Moslem, Shaaban Roberts and Jitegemee-JKT. Three secondary schools surveyed in Morogoro region included Kilakala, Morogoro and Lutheran Junior Seminary. The other two schools surveyed in Tanga region where Kifungilo and St. Mary's Mazinde Juu. Of the ten schools, five of them (Kinondoni Moslem, Lutheran Junior Seminary, Jitegemee-JKT, Morogoro secondary, Shaaban Robert) were co-education. Four of the surveyed schools (Kilakala, Kifungilo, Jangwani and St. Mary’s Mazinde Juu) were girls only, while one (Azania) was boy's only secondary school. Based on school ownership, four schools were government owned and ran (Azania, Kilakala, Jangwani, Morogoro Secondary) while Kinondoni secondary school was owned and ran by the Moslem community in Dar es Salaam. Two schools (Kifungilo, St. Mary’s Mazinde Juu) were owned and ran by Roman Catholic, and one (Lutheran Junior Seminary) were owned and run by CC of Tanzania. Jitegemee and Shaaban Robert secondary school were owned and ran by Jeshi la Kujenga Taifa-SUMA, and the Indian community of Dar es Salaam, respectively. Based on the school type: Azania, Jangwani and Morogoro secondary schools had boarders and day going students, while Kilakala, Kifungilo, Lutheran Junior Seminary and St. Mary’s Mazinde Juu were boarding schools. Day school in the survey included Kinondoni Moslem, Jitegemee-JKT and Shaaban Robert secondary schools. The study included respondents in the school with the most students (over 500), medium student (about 200) and the least (less than 100) students. Of the 630 interviewees, 217 (34.4%), 167 (26.6%), 91 (14.4%), 78 (12.4%), and 77 (12.2%) came from the government, religious-Christian, Jitegemee-SUMA-J.K.T, religious-Moslem, and individual secondary schools, respectively. Of the ten surveyed secondary schools, eight of them having 554 (88%) respondents were located in urban areas. This bias was purposive because most of the secondary schools in the country are located in urban areas. Also, of the 630 surveyed students, 422 (67%) came from five schools in the city of Dar es Salaam because city has many schools in the country. Of the 630 respondents, 353 (56.0%) were girls and 273 (43.3%) males (Table 2). The average age of interviewees was 17.7 year old. Most of the surveyed students, 599 (95.1%) were sampled from Forms III and IV because these has stayed long enough in the schools and were hypothesized to have more knowledge about the phenomena being studied. Selection of schools was purposive and not all government schools were sampled for the study. Currently, about 90 per cent of all students finish their ordinary and advanced secondary school education from the government schools. About half of the sampled students, 330 (52.4%) were in co-education, 164 (26.0%), and 136 (21.6%) were in girls and boys only secondary schools, respectively. Most respondents, 568 (92%), 583 (94%), 576 (93%) agreed that biology, chemistry and physics laboratories were available in their schools. Over half of female and male interviewees, 411 409 (67%), (66%), 394 (65%), and 356 (63%) agreed that teachers used laboratories for practical sessions, classroom had enough chairs and desks, and teachers used teaching materials, respectively. Of the 630 interviewees, most, 528 (84%) agreed that they used only English during note taking in the classrooms. Respondents based on gender reported a similar observation: 306 (86%) and 222 (81%) female and male respondents respectively. Over half of the respondents, 415 (68%) and 380 (62%) agreed that they used English in answering and asking questions in the classrooms, respectively. Similarly, 385 (63%) of the interviewees agreed that they used both English and Kiswahili in group discussions. Of the 630 interviewees, 554 (89.1%), 448 (73.9%) agreed that their school had libraries and library attendants, respectively. Over half of the respondents, 384 (63%), 317 (51.8%), and 299 (50.2%) agreed that they borrowed books from their libraries, that their libraries had enough chairs and tables, their teachers asked students to go to the libraries and borrow books, respectively. Less than half of the respondents, 292 (47.9%), 282 (46.5%), 239 (40.7%) agreed that the school libraries had enough books, that libraries were within their vicinity, and that they frequently used the libraries. But, when students were asked to mention the clubs that they were involved in, only a few of them were able to name the specific clubs. Of the 630 respondents, 201 (31.9%) agreed that they were involved in the debate clubs in their schools. Most interviewees in the ten schools, 530 (84.1%) agreed that English was only used during note taking in the classrooms. And over half of them, 431 (68,4%), 418 (66.3%), 387 (61.4%), and 383 (61.1%) agreed that they preferred teachers to use English when teaching, used English when answering questions, used both English and Kiswahili in group discussions, and used English when asking questions, respectively. Furthermore, most interviewees in the girls secondary schools, 193 (90%) agreed to using English during note-taking than boys 72 (84%), followed by co-education 265 (80%), although the difference was not significant. Over half of the interviewees, 431 (68%), 418 (66%), and 383 (60%), based on their school systems agreed that they like to use English, they used English in answering questions, and used English in asking questions, respectively. However, less than half of the respondents, 252 (40%) agreed that their teachers used English when teaching--this low response may be contributing to poor English among Tanzanian secondary school graduates. Over half of the interviewees, 385 (61%) and 317 (50%) agreed that they borrowed books from their libraries and that schools classrooms had enough chairs and tables. However, of the 630 interviewees, less than half, 299 (48%), 292 (46%), and 284 (45%) reported that their teachers asked students to go to the libraries, that their libraries had enough books, and there was a nearby library, respectively. Further examination of these show that most respondents in the girls only schools, 154 (72%) followed by those in co-education, 199 (60%) borrowed books from the school libraries. However, few, 32 (37%) of the respondents in the boys only schools borrowed books from the school libraries. Over half of interviewees, 413 (66%), 411 (65%), and 395 (63%) agreed that their schools had enough chairs and desks, enough teachers, used laboratories for practical sessions, respectively. Summarily, data show that on average less than half 113 (42.2%) of the interviewees in the government-owned and ran schools agreed to most aspects pertaining to classroom-, teaching materials- and laboratories-related variables. This implied that most of the government-run secondary schools did not have an adequate supply of these items. Of the 40 teachers, 25 (62.5%), 8 (20%), 6 (15%) and 1 (2.5%) were surveyed from the government, Christian, individual, and JKT secondary schools, respectively. Of the 25 teachers in the government secondary school, 15 (60%) had completed Form VI, which implied that they had no formal teaching skills. Most interviewees, 35 (87.5%) were trained teachers, and about half, 20 (50%) indicated that they had completed teacher training between 1986 and 1992. However, less than half, 18 (45%) had started teaching between 1986 and 1992, i.e. had an experience of between 13 and seven years of teaching. Also, the study shows that 9 (30%), 9 (22.5%), and 7 (17.5%) of the respondents taught biology and chemistry, English, mathematics and physics subjects, respectively. Of the 40 teachers, 27 (67.6%) of them agreed that they had not attended in-service courses and of these, the majority, 19 (76%) were from the government secondary schools. Similarly, 34 (85%), 28 (70%), 27 (67.5%) teachers sampled from the categories of school ownership type agreed that they had not attended refresher courses, seminars, and workshops, respectively. Less than half, 18 (45%) of the respondents agreed that their class sizes were between 30 to 40 students. And, most teachers, 31 (77.5%) reported that teaching materials in their schools were enough. However, most teachers in the government secondary schools, 22 (88%), about half, 3 (50%) in the individual schools, and 2 (25%) in the Christian/religious schools reported that their schools had enough teaching materials. Secondary school teachers were asked to assess their English competence levels. Of the 40 teachers, 15 (37.5%), 9 (22.5%), and 1 (2.5%) agreed that their English competence levels were good, very good, and excellent, respectively. This data implied that some secondary school teachers were not confident with their English competence, an aspect that may affect the performance of secondary school students. Less than half of the 40 teachers, 19 (47.5%) and 17 (42.5%) agreed that their schools had laboratories for physics, chemistry, biology and domestic science subjects, respectively. However, most teachers did not agree with the statement that their laboratories were well equipped as only six (15%) said so. Also, about half of the teachers, 21 (52.5%) agreed that there were librarians, but less than half, 19 (47.5%) disagreed that the school libraries had enough chairs and desks. Few interviewees, 13 (32.5%) agreed that they always used the library. This data implied that if teachers do not frequently use the library it could be difficult to advise students to do so--as only 18 (45%) assigned students to use the library. However, as school observations revealed this was due to the fact that most libraries in the schools had few books in terms of relevance, quality and quantity. For instance, few of the surveyed teachers, 7 (17.5%) agreed that libraries had enough book copies for the students. Of the 40 respondents, less than half 19 (47.5%) said that the school libraries had outdated books that needed updating. Few teachers agreed to be members to about six subject clubs in the schools. This small number of teacher involvement in school subject clubs manifests itself in the small numbers of students in the clubs as explained elsewhere. Consequently, this might have an effect on the performance of students in their respective subjects. Of the surveyed seven school administrators, six indicated that they were trained teachers, and of all, three, two for each were trained at the University of Dar Es salaam, at Kleruu and Dar TTC, and abroad (USA, U.K.), respectively. Years in which they attended training were between 1969 to 1991. Four, two and one of the school administrators had Bachelor of Arts in Education, Bachelor of Science in Education, and a diploma in Education, respectively. The length of years worked in the schools varied. Three, two, one for each had worked for three, one, six and seven years, respectively. Of the seven respondents, three, one for each, agreed that the number one hindering factor was lack of teaching materials, textbooks, the double sessions, and interruption brought about by unplanned school closure before time, respectively. Two, one for each administrator mentioned that hindering factors included as lack of teaching materials, lack of study areas for students, lack of librarians, lack of emphasis of games and sports, respectively. Of the seven interviewees, two, and one for each agreed that the number one hindering factor was that teachers did not mark the students' home work in time, lack of effective teaching, and that teachers did not use teaching materials, and had heavy teaching loads, respectively. Of the six, four, one for each commented that the final examinations performance of their students were good, very good, and good if students were availed the facilities for practical. Also, seven interviewees gave their comments on their students' English language competence, and two, one for each said that they were average, very good, not competent, lack practice out of the classrooms, respectively.




Students academic achievement, Tanzania Secondary Schools, School facilities, Examinations performance, Effective teaching, Teaching loads