13 December 2012

Tanzania: Have There Been Changes in Mathematics?

Mathematics is one of the subjects taught before and after independence. It has been taught in primary schools and progressively in other levels of education.

At independence the aim of teaching mathematics in primary school was to provide numerical skills such as counting, the four operations of multiplication, addition, subtraction and division, money, measurements and time. In secondary and higher levels they were given algebra, geometry and other mathematical skills needed for vocation.

After independence Tanganyika continued with the same mathematics curricula. Popular books used in primary schools were those written by Carey Francis called 'Hesabu za Kikwetu'. The books were easily identified by their covers which had a picture of a giraffe.The giraffe was the identity symbol (emblem) for Tanganyika. Mathematics teaching from standard one up to standard four was done in Kiswahili.

The formal education system in Tanganyika was 4 years of primary, 4 years of middle school 2 years of lower secondary (territorial college) and 2 years of senior secondary school. Mathematics books for standard five to eight were written in English and were used in East Africa. For example, there was a book called Highway Mathematics Book 6 authored by E. Carey Francis, E.A.William and H. P. Bradley published by Longman (Arusha, Kampala and Nairobi). Its cover had a picture of lion, giraffe, peacock and a boat to represent the East African countries. From 1964, following the first 5-year economic plan, Tanzania's education system was transformed.

The middle schools were renamed 'upper primary School'. Some primary schools started offering standard five education.. In 1965 both standard seven and standard eight sat for form one entry examinations.Standard Eight was phased out after 1966. The 1966 form one pupils were a mixture of pupils who did mathematics for seven years and those who did it for eight years.

No research has been conducted to date to find if there was significant difference between the performance or the learning of mathematics for the two groups. They all did the same course and examinations there after. The mathematics changes in other countries instigated by Russian's success in putting sputnik 1 in space way back in 1957, influenced the teaching of mathematics in Africa. A project called Entebbe Mathematics conducted some experiments in Tanzania initiated by the United States of America and supported by the African Education Programme.

Some primary schools started the experiment in 1964 (three years after independence). Another experiment was started by the British through a project called School Mathematics Project of East Africa (SMPEA), renamed later as School Mathematics of East Africa ( SMEA). These projects for secondary schools were started in 1966 when the mathematical Association of Tanzania was formed after 60 mathematics teachers from all over Tanzania met at the University College. Dar es Salaam to deliberate on the new mathematics programmes.

At the end of the meeting 11 schools were elected to start the Entebbe Mathematics and 6 schools started the SMEA. The two programmes were called 'Moderu Mathematics'. Some schools decided to continue with the old programme which was then called 'Traditional Mathematics'. Some of the teachers' colleges inclined towards SMEA and others towards Entebbe. Traditional mathematics in secondary schools used the University of Cambridge Syndicate examination syllabuses which were examined by alternatives A and B mathematics papers.

Some schools used books by H.E.Parr who had a series called 'School Mathematics' while other schools used books by Clement V. Durrell who had separate series for Algebra, Arithmetic and Geometry. The examination paper was called 'Elementary Mathematics'. A more demanding paper called Additional Mathematics was offered for the more able students who opted for the course at Form 3. Those who did Advanced Mathematics in Form Five and Six did the Advanced Mathematics paper eather as a single subject or as two separate subjects of Pure Mathematics (PM) and Applied Mathematics (AM).

Pupils in Forms 5 and 6 who did Physics, Biology and Chemistry (PCB) sat for the subsidiary mathematics paper. The Swahili version of the original Entebbe Primary Mathematics Books called 'VitabuvyaMajaribio'were used to try the programmein primary schools. These books were later revised to form the primary school series called 'Hesabu za Tanzania'. Teachers Training colleges used a book called 'Basic concepts in Mathematics' which was inclined towards the Entebbe Mathematics.

The strong features of both programmes together with their complementary nature, made it difficult to select one as being the most suitable programme for Tanzania. The more intuitive nature of the SMEA contrasted with the stronger emphasis on the step-by -step deductive process in the Entebbe. There was Cross-fertilization between the two programmes, but this was limited to the central mathematics Institutes in Dar es Salaam together with lectures and meetings in various parts of Tanzania. Such meetings were mainly organized within the framework of the Mathematical Association of Tanzania.

When the experiment was accomplished and evaluated the two programmes (Entebbe and SMEA) were fused into one and termed 'Modern Mathematics'. Syllabuses were therefore written for ordinary level Modern Mathematics, Advanced level Modern Mathematics, Additional Mathematics (modern) and subsidiary mathematics (modern). These courses were examined by the East African Examinations and were later taken up by the National Examinations Council of Tanzania (NECTA) upon its inception in 1971.

The first O-level modern mathematics was conducted in November 1969 and the first A-level modern mathematics in 1971. The Entebbe mathematics books were revised and produced as secondary mathematics books to be used for the modern mathematicsprogramme. The advanced Mathematics Entebbe books were adapted and produced as Advanced Mathematics books in 1974. Similarly the Additional Mathematics Entebbe books were adapted and produced as Additional Mathematics books.

The Modern Mathematics and traditional mathematics syllabuses were used to write a new syllabus for ordinary level called Basic Mathematics Forms one to Four. The Advanced Modern and Traditional Mathematics syllabuses gave rise to a syllabus called Advanced mathematics Forms Five and Six. The modern and traditional subsidiary maths gave rise to Basic Applied Mathematics Forms Five and Six. The Modern and Traditional Additional Mathematics became Additional Mathematics Form Three and Four.

The new syllabuses became effective since 1974. The two programmes (modern and traditional) were phased out gradually and by 1977 all the pupils in form one to four in Mainland Tanzania were doing Basic Mathematics. An evaluation of the teaching of mathematics in the primary schools was conducted in 1979. Results of the evaluation recommended changes in both the syllabus and textbooks.

Among the notable changes was the exclusion of the set language which was regarded by parents and the general public as responsible for the deterioration of mathematics performance in primary schools. The books were revised and given the new series title 'HisabatishuleyaMsingi'. The teaching of Basic Mathematics forms one to four was evaluated in 1981. The results showed a great need of revising the syllabus and splitting it according to forms. The evaluation also recommended that the books be written afresh.

To date the syllabus has been revised and books for forms one to fourhave been produced. The Advanced Mathematics and Basic Applied mathematics courses were evaluated in 1984. The evaluation revealed that the syllabus was too heavily loaded and could not be covered effectively in two years. The evaluation recommended a revision of the syllabus by reducing content and specifying depth of coverage. It also called for instructional materials to be written coupled with inservice courses to improve teaching and learning.

Preliminary work of revising the Advanced Mathematics syllabus has now completed. Mathematics teachers for secondary schools have mainly been trained at the University of Dar es Salaam and teachers' training colleges which offer diploma courses in Education. At the university, undergraduate preservice mathematics teachers take Mathematics and Education. Within the Education course, they do mathematics teaching methods which is meant to train them on how to teach mathematics effectively.

Teachers' training tutors for mathematics are also groomed at the University of Dar es Salaam. Mathematics teaching in Tanzania has been facing the following problems: There is acute shortage of teachers and teaching materials at all levels. The syllabuses are very long and a number of concepts are rather difficult for the levels specified. Many teachers are inadequately trained to teach mathematics. This is a result of allowing very little time in methods of teaching and teaching practice during teachers training.

The Ministry of Education and Vocational Training has been concerned with the deterioration of mathematics performance in schools. In trying to solve the problem of shortage of mathematics teachers, the Ministry converted Mkwawa Secondary school into a mathematics and science teachers' college. At Mkwawa Teachers College aspiring mathematics and science teachers studied their A- level subjects in the first two years coupled with some courses on Education. In the third year they studied education which included methods of teaching and teaching practice.

The successful candidates were awarded diploma in education. The other diploma students who were not in special colleges had to stay in college for two years after completing their A level studies. It meant that students at Mkwawastarted to train as teachersright at form five. This was later abandoned and the institution has been converted to a constituent college of the UDSM known as Mkwawa University College.

The Ministry also provided financial assistance to Educational institutions to conduct in- service seminars in collaboration with the Institute of Curriculum Development. The purpose of the seminars was to orientate teacher on changes in the syllabus. The Ministry also offered funds to the conduct in-service courses for A-level mathematics and science teachers. Other organisations that have conducted seminars for mathematics teachers are the Professional Teachers Association of Tanzania or 'Chama Cha Kitaalaam cha Walimu Tanzania (CHAKIWATA)'.

Chama Cha Walimu Tanzania (CWT).The Mathematical Association of Tanzania (MAT) and the International Village of Science and Technology (IVST). The Mathematical Association of Tanzania (MAT/ CHAHITA), in particular, has been supplementing efforts being taken by educational institutions in raising competence among mathematics teachers. It has been conducting annual seminars for its members as well as interested teachers. The lecturers offered have mainly been on topics which teachers find difficult to teach.

Moreover, seminars of similar nature have been conducted in active MAT zones and they have proved to be very effective. In 1990, the Harold Macmillan Trust, (HMT) of London sponsored a research of Problems of Teaching and Learning Mathematics in Tanzania. This research gave rise to the project entitled MAT 3- year Integrated Training and Publications Programme. The objectives of the project were to publish and supply supplementary and teaching aids for primary, secondary and teachers classrooms and expand their programme of in-serves training.

The project also intended to assist in the production of the Tanzanian Mathematical Bulletin which published mathematical articles and MAT seminar proceedings. The project was funded jointly by MAT, HMT and the European Commission (E.C). It must be emphasized that education and particularly mathematical education, is fundamental to our future economy. Without mathematics there can be no modern technology, no manufacture, no commerce, no modern economy, in our daily lives.

Practically everything we use, everything we depend upon needed some people working mathematically in its origination, design and development. Let us consolidate our efforts to raise its standard. Let us motivate both the pupil and the teacher. Let us give them a good teaching environment. Archimedes once said "Give me a place to stand, and I will move Earth".Let us give them what they require and they will do wonders.

Another action initiated as intervention to the deterioration of mathematics was the Primary Mathematics Project (PMUP) based at Korogwe Teachers' College. The project developed simple and friendly teaching methods and tried them in Korogwe District Schools. The project included development of teaching and learning materials. Some publishers have published mathematics friendly books which motivate the pupil.

For example, Mture Education Publishers, has come up with 'Hisabati kwa Vitendo'(Practical Mathematics) which motivate pupils to like mathematics. Recently, the introduction of Pi day has provided a platform for pupils and teachers to discuss problem of mathematics teaching learning and do activities to alleviate them.

Activities include singing mathematics songs, demonstration of mathematics teaching aids,telling mathematics stories and playing mathematical games. The 51 years of independence have surely done something in mathematics.. How many of these changes are you aware of? Have you or your children kept them abreast?

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