The impact of decentralization of primary education administration in Tanzania

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University of Dar es Salaam
This study is a response to the public outcry on falling academic standards in the Tanzanian primary schools. The study takes up the question of effectiveness and efficiency in primary education administration in the period of the decentralization policy which became operational with effect from July, 1972. The decentralization period has been chosen because this is the time when allegations on falling standards in primary schools have been dominating the local press, educational panels and preliminary research reports. In order to provide a basis for assessing the variables under investigation, a comparative approach has been employed in pursuing this study. This means, therefore, that an item being investigated has not only been studied through the decentralization period but it has also been traced back to the pre decentralization period. For historical reasons, the baseline for the pre-decentralization period has been taken as 1961. The criteria for assessing effectiveness and efficiency have been developed on the basis of the strategies which were recommended by Mckinsey Consultants to increase performance in primary school education and adopted by Tanzania government when the decentralization policy was launched. Thus, according to this study effectiveness and efficiency of primary school education have been determined by finding out if the recommended strategies for increasing performance are being followed and implemented. And, accordingly, the main research problem has been posed in the following terms: 'Are the, strategies for increasing effectiveness and efficiency of primary education followed? Due to material constraints, the study has focused on a limited number of variables which affect the effectiveness and efficiency of primary education These variables have been selected from the recommended strategies for enhancing primary education performance. The selected strategies are concerned with the question of: (i ) The curriculum -It was recommended that schools should follow a community-oriented curriculum (ii} Teachers - It was recommended that teachers should be conversant with the curriculum. (iii} school materials and equipment - It was recommended that schools should be adequately equipped. (iv} supervisory services - It was recommended that supervisory services to schools should be frequent and regular. After the above-mentioned strategies had been identified, the study was directed to collecting relevant data by various data gathering techniques. The questionnaire, the interview schedule and observation were the main research techniques employed, throughout the study, care was taken to gear all the steps involved towards answering the main research question stated above. In the end, the study revealed the following findings: ( i ) The curriculum was not community-oriented because of the tight grip by the "centre" on the curriculum. {ii} Teachers are conversant with the curriculum but because the curriculum was not, community - oriented, the teachers' knowledge on the curriculum was not adequately serving the interests of the schools' surrounding communities. (iii) Schools were ill-equipped and this was partly a result of poor distribution system and partly a result of the economic position of this country. (iv} the supervisory services to schools Have dwindled during the decentralization period, This is largely because of insufficient funds and mis utilization of manpower. In short, the findings suggest that the four aspects investigated are not operating in the spirit and expectation of the initial recommendations which market the launching of the decentralization policy. From these findings it is concluded that the public outcry on the falling standards in primary schools is valid to a certain extent - although this is not to say that the findings indicate a decline of academic standards in all aspects of primary education, for the study has not covered all the aspects. From these findings, the study makes the following recommendations: ( i ) curriculum development should be decentralized and the local community should work shoulder to-shoulder with the local technocrats to develop the curriculum in line with the needs of the locality. The role of the Ministry at the centre should be to give general guidelines around which the peripheral communities could develop their local curriculum in accordance with their local environment. (ii) The school and the large communities should jointly participate in raising funds for the purchase of school materials and equipment. It is further suggested that joint economic projects should be undertaken through the normal Education for Self-reliance activities to raise funds for school equipment. This could offset, at Least in a small way, the present problems created by a defective official procurement and distribution system. (iii) The regional education Officer should be given some legal powers to protect his junior staff from being assigned less urgent duties outside the field of their specialization. Findings show that this practice is rampant in the regions and it is the main cause of mis utilization of manpower. The study has been organized in five chapters; the first chapter gives the background to the problem and its definition. The second chapter presents a review of related literature. A discussion of the research methodology is presented in chapter three. Chapter four is concerned with the processing and analysis of the data. It also gives a discussion of the findings. Finally, chapter five summarizes the study and makes some recommendations in answer to the main problem of the research.
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Education, primary, Tanzania, Decentralization in government
Mwampeta, A.D (1978) The impact of decentralization of primary education administration in Tanzania, Masters dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available at (