1 December 2012

Tanzania: Education

A joke is something spoken, written, or done with entertaining intention. The desire response is generally laughter. Jokes take different forms, some of which are inspirational while others are disastrous.

Consider this nice joke in the classroom: Teacher: "Isaac Newton was sitting under the tree when an apple fell on his head and he discovered the law of gravity. Isn't that wonderful?" Student: "Yes sir, if he had been sitting in the class looking at books like us, he wouldn't have been discovered anything"

Actually, this column is less concerned with such challenging jokes but bringing to the surface disastrous ones, which are shamelessly adopted in the curriculum.

For instance, it is common to find a book mentioning bi-election as a type of election conducted to fill a vacant seat. (S.Saleh (2010) Civics book 7, p.65). Actually, in English language, the prefix "bi" means "two, twice, or double" Examples of the use of the prefix include bilingual (speaking two languages); bi-annual (occurring twice each year), bigamy (being married to two menat the same time), bilateral, bicentenary, etc.The proper term in the contest is "by-election" which means aspecial election (as opposed to a general election) to fill a politicaloffice that has become vacant between regularly scheduledelections. Usually, a by-election occurs when the incumbent hasdied or resigned, though may also occur when the incumbentbecomes ineligible to continue in office.

In additional, this misconception which sent shock waves through my brains has penetrated beyond the walls of classroom. Yes! Even some of the prestigious local Media have already trapped by such a perception as demonstrated in the following extract, which was about the then Igunga vacant parliamentary seat. "She (the speaker) wrote to the National Electoral Commission (NEC) on Wednesday to notify him of the vacancy. The law stipulates that the body would mount a bi-election to elect a new MP." (Citizen 24th July, 2011).

Another joke is the usage of the term Ward Counsellors (see Civics pupil book 6, Adamson, p.22, 16), the proper term is Ward Councilor. A counsellor is a person who has been trained to advise people with problems. The erroneous usage of this term is now beyond the walls of the classroom as it has already penetrated the judicial shelves. A popular election petition judgment, which its part is quoted herein, is a good example: "RW.2 (Responded Witness number 2) was sponsored by the CHADEMA political party to contest for Lemara ward counsellors' seat" (Miscellaneous civil cause no. 13 of 2010)

As this not enough, some textbooks also jokingly describe the year for re- introduction of multiparty system in our country. The following extract is from a textbook currently used in the curriculum. "In 1995, some changes were made as to allow multiparty democracy in the country" (Civics 7: Adamson, p.35). Honestly, this is an unimaginable joke.

The fact of the matter is that: "On April, 1992, the parliament amended the constitution (8th Amendments) to accommodate multiparty system and on 1st July, 1992 multiparty system became effective in Tanzania. (Msekwa, P. (1995) Essays on transition to Multi -partism in Tanzania, DUP, p. 1)

Another joke is when class six pupils are told that the United Tanganyika Party (UTP) which was formed to oppose TANU during the struggle for independence was under Martin Kayamba ((History book 6, Adamson, pg.27)

In fact, MartinKayamba, the founder leader of Tanganyika Territory Civil Servants Association (TTCSA) died 1939 at the age of 48. UTP was established in 1955, sixteen years after the death of Kayamba. How could he lead a party while six feet underneath ? What a joke. To cut off a story, UTP was under a pyrethrum settler Ivor Bayldon as the president and Sheikh Hussein Juma, as its Vice president.

It is undoubtedly concluded that we are really "enjoying" such jokes in education, as none of us seems to raise any concern. However, a danger foreseen is half avoided.

Huruma K. Joseph is a prominent author based in Arusha. His recent book is "40 Big Lies in Civics for Tanzania Schools" josephhuruma@gmail.com +255760590418

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