Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Stakeholders up in arm against multiple choice questions

Education stakeholders in the country have strongly opposed to a government system of continuing setting questions on Mathematics subject for primary and secondary school students for their final examinations basing on the type basis of multiple choices. They made a plea last week in Dar es Salaam during the 10th anniversary celebrations to mark the PIE day, the occasion which was graced by Vice-President Dr. Mohammed Gharib Bilal and is honored to recognize the importance of the mathematics subject in the country. Speaking at different times stakeholders have noted that, the multiple type of questions for the mathematics subject to students make them relax and never concentrate on the basic mathematical formulas to be work out for an answer and instead most of them relies on guessing answers. The Chairman of the Mathematical Association of Tanzania (MAT) Sylvester Rugeihyamu said in his speech that, his association has sent a request to the National Examinations Council of Tanzania (NECTA) to revert the system three years ago, but in vain. Outlining the disadvantages that might arise from students academically are together with having less  ability to understand the subject itself, as a student might not know how to make calculations and get direct answers. In view of this however, he has appealed to the government to stop from applying the system which has long been in use without success and instead has been deteriorating the mindset of students from concentrating on the basic formulas applied in mathematics subject. Rugeihyamu has also appealed to the government to provide the necessary incentives such as allowances for mathematics teachers in the country as a way to make them work harder to promote the subject in the country bearing in mind the fact that are few in number. However, he said that the NECTA officials have been  praising the system saying that it is being practiced in Botswana and have no doubts that students are practicing well from the knowledge they get. In spite of such response,  Rugeihyamu has however reiterated his continued commitment and insistence over the matter to see the government cancels it out as it is of no use to develop students. Speaking in an exclusive interview after the occasion, another stakeholder who is the President of Tanzania Teachers’ Union (TTU) Gratian Mukoba lamented the average pass marks for students on the mathematics subject which he says range between 15 and 17 percent in the country. 

President of Tanzania Teachers’ Union (TTU) Gratian Mukoba 

 He said the general mass failure of students on mathematics subject is due to poor knowledge most students have, and added that this is as a result of poor preparations from the primary level. Mukoba who is a teacher by profession noted that in order to catch up with the subject, students should learn various mathematical formulas and work on them through with a view to get answers. He further noted that, this is the only the way to make them critically think of the subject instead of leaving them to rely on guessing a system which ultimately makes them not to be capable. “This is a serious issue which the government must look at by all means if it really means to develop students academically and become professional mathematicians”, he said. On his part, the Director of African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) Samwel Awuku said that, the multiple choice questions on mathematics depends on the educational curriculum of the country. He said it might be so useful to a certain extend depending on how the examination setters put in their questions and answers which in one way or another might confuse students’ minds to choose the correct ones. He said giving example in UK whereby they practice such a system in their various examinations set for their students and noted that, it depends on how students take them. Answering stakeholders’ queries, the Vice-President Dr. Bilal noted that, the government would look at the way to see what could be the best way to be used by the nation in order to get qualified mathematicians. He also insisted in his speech that, the community should give the priority of the mathematic subject at all levels of education from primary to higher learning institutions as its importance is seen in today’s science and technology in every sector of development in the country. “We need big results now as the government is currently working in collaboration with the private sector in promoting education in the country”, he said adding that, the government has increased the number teachers’ employment rate in both primary and secondary schools in the country.

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