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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Majority of govt schools lack science subject labs

30th June 2010
Education and Vocational Training Deputy Minister Mwantumu Mahiza

A total of 2,555 government secondary schools out of 3,283 in the country lack laboratories for students to practise science subjects, Education and Vocational Training Deputy Minister Mwantumu Mahiza told the House on Monday.

She was responding to a question by Dimani legislator Hafidh Ali Tahir (CCM), who had wanted to know the percentage of secondary and primary schools, both government and private, which lack essential facilities for learning science subjects.
The deputy minister said the government had made efforts to construct new laboratories in new schools and had similarly worked hard to strengthen the old ones.
“The number of government schools up to December, 2009 is 3,283 out of which schools with laboratories are only 728 and those lacking the facility are 2,555,” she said, adding that most of the schools facing the problem were those built in collaboration with the communities.
Elaborating, Mahiza said schools with laboratories account for 22 per cent of the total number and those lacking the essential learning facility for science subjects representing 78 per cent.
She noted that most primary schools had no laboratories because science subjects taught to pupils at that level did not necessarily require them to perform laboratory tests. “More emphasis is currently put on the strengthening of community schools, particularly in completing their infrastructure, including laboratories,” said the deputy minister.
She also informed that under the Secondary Education Development Plan II, high priority has been given to the development of infrastructure, like laboratories and teachers’ houses.
However, Mahiza said seminary schools totalling 103 had laboratories. Kipata Seminary in Ilala municipality, Dar es Salaam region, was the only seminary school lacking the facililty and currently, enrolls students for only Form One and Two classes.
In his supplementary question, Tahir wanted to know the alternative plan by the government to help the students sitting for examinations without practicing science subjects in laboratories, as required under the curricula.
According to the MP, lack of the facility in many schools was a major contributing factor for massive failures of students taking science subjects, in both government and private secondary schools.
In response, Mahiza said the current government plan being implemented under the SEDP II, focused on constructing laboratories, especially in community schools.
MP for Mchinga (CCM) Mudhihir Mudhihir blamed massive failures of students in schools on the shortage of teachers. He urged the government to allow students who fail in their national examinations to re-do them, as school candidates, not as private candidates.
Mahiza said in her response that according to the National Examinations Council of Tanzania (Necta) laws, school candidates failing in their examinations cannot re-do them, as school candidates again.
However, she said if deemed necessary, the issue would be taken to the advisory body for consideration.

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