Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

7 May 2012

Tanzania: Monduli Worries Over Language Barrier, Long School Breaks

Arusha — TEACHERS in Monduli District are concerned that the forthcoming national population census scheduled for August which will be preceded by a month-long vacation that will interfere with the study habits of students in the area.

"The four week census exercise will come shortly after the two week school break. Standard seven pupils are expected to sit for their final exams in September and hence they will not have enough time to revise," pointed out Mwalimu Meikas Laizer, headmaster for Engaruka-Juu primary school.

According to Mr Laizer, pupils in rural areas do not study during the holidays; because once they are at home they graze cattle, attend to farms and undertake other domestic chores.

"In urban areas like Arusha and Dar es Salaam cities, pupils normally study at home or for extra tuition classes during holidays, but in places like Monduli, the children simply discard books, forget about learning and pursue other activities until when the school break is over," he stressed.

Mwalimu Meikas is worried that some pupils, especially the girls may not even return to school after such a long break because the nomadic pastoralist communities making up the Monduli District marry off young girls.

With the national population census only four months away, government officials in Monduli district are meanwhile contemplating on how to reach out to hundreds of villagers who are not conversant with Kiswahili.

According to the district commissioner Mr Jowika Kasunga, the enumerators who carry out the actual counting of people and households will have difficulties in communicating with some local people in the remote villages.

He said although preparations for the census are in top gear in the district, which is inhabited mainly by nomadic pastoralists, he is worried that some livestock keepers can hardly communicate in the national language.

"In some villages we will have to get interpreters as we foresee the challenge of enumerators failing to communicate with these villagers in order to obtain accurate data", he told reporters here during a briefing on the national census slated for August this year.

The DC specifically cited Oldonyo Sambu, Mbashi and Mfereji villages as among areas that will need the interpreters during the census period. He did not say if such communicators were hired for the exercise during the last census in 2002.

Mr Kasunga added that the sensitisation of people on the census is underway all over the district and added that difficult areas have been identified to be those with poor accessibility or where residents are not conversant with Kiswahili.

The national census will be held between August 25 and 30, this year. This will be the fifth census to be held in country. The past censuses took place in 1957, 1967, 1978, 1988 and 2002.

During the last census which took place 10 years ago, the population of Tanzania was estimated as 34,443,603. Currently, the national population is estimated to be over 42 million, according to projections. The district administrator said within Monduli district there will be 323 enumeration areas. Preparations for the census have started in other districts within the vast Arusha region and at the regional level.

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