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Evaluation report

2009 Tanzania: Evaluation of the Current Status and Future Utility of Cobet as a Strategic Intervention to Ensure Access to Quality Education for all Primary School-Ages Children in Tanzania

Executive summary


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1.1 The nature of the Problem
Tanzania has an obligation arising from its membership in international organizations to implement conventions, which it has ratified in guaranteeing the right to basic education to all Tanzanian children. As asserted by Galabawa (2003) such a right to education needs to be conceived not just as an investment choice, but also, and more importantly, as a basic human right, to be enjoyed for its own intrinsic value and spillover benefits. Tanzania is equally obliged to adhere to its own national policy thrusts such as the Education and Training Policy (1995) and the Basic Education Strategy (2000) to provide alternative learning opportunites to its girls and boys who happen not to be in school at any given time due to reasons related to gender, social, economic and geographical status. The goal of quality basic education being made available for all is enshrined in the 1990 Jomtien Declaration adopted by the World Conference on Education for All. This goal was reasserted at the world Education forum in Darkar Senegal in April 2000.
Within this context, the Tanzanian education system defines seven years of primary education, Standards I-VII, to be free for all. Earlier efforts by the government to universalise primary education by 1977 and the corresponding 1978 National Educational Act No. 25 (ammended in 1995) requiring compulsory attendance for primary education for every child aged 7-13 (school age) were conceived within the same commitment and recorded significant quantitative achievements during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Gross Enrolment rates which were 35.1% in the late 1960s and early 1970s, for example, grew appreciably to 98% in 1980. However, these achievements could not be sustained due to a long and deep economic crisis which Tanzania experienced from the late 1970s to the mid 1980s in the form of macro economic disequilibrium.

In 1998, the Primary Education Development Plan (PEDP) was conceived as the first outcome of efforts in formulating international commitment, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and EFA process, into feasible strategies and actions. Enrolment expansion was the highest priority of the PEDP, which aimed at all children aged 7-13 being enrolled in primary education by 2005.
In realization that not all children could adequately be served by the formal education system and that Tanzania could not therefore achieve universal primary education as anticipated, the Government decided to put emphasis on alternative learning as a complement to basic education. It was observed for example that by 1997 more than 2 million children of school age were out of school and most of these came from poor families and hard to reach communities. As a result of this, the Complementary Basic Education in Tanzania (COBET) programme was conceived by the government in collaboration with UNICEF. It started as a pilot project (1997-2001) designed to test complementary approaches of providing primary education to out-of-school children and youth (MOEC, 1997). The objective was to mainstream school-age children into the formal system after having them complete a three-years course and sit for the Primary School Leaving Examination and thereafter they would be free to compete for selection by secondary schools. The target group in this project was divided into two cohorts. Cohort One comprised 11-13 year olds, and Cohort Two comprised 14-18 year old children and youth.

As a pilot programme, COBET was run in 50 centres in five districts (Kisarawe, Songea Rural, Ngara, Musoma Rural and Masasi Districts). The total enrolment was 1560 children and youth. This coverage was considered relatively small compared to the actual number of out-of-school children (estimated to have reached three million by 2002). The Evaluation Report of the pilot programme (Galabawa, 2003) shows that the COBET pilot project made a useful overall contribution to improving access to and quality provision of basic education and, since achievement levels observed in COBET are comparable with those in formal primary schools, COBET has proved itself successful. Statistically, the evaluation report shows that 18 out of 50 centres had enrolled a total of 449 orphans (276 boys and 173 girls). These are children who would not have gone to school if it had not been for COBET.
The Ministry of Education and Vocational Training within the framework of PEDP since then (2003/2004) decided to scale up the programme to all districts in the country. According to the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training Report (MoEVT, 2008) children who have been registered by the programme so far stand as follows:
Table 1: Children Enrolment in COBET Classes as per 2008
Cohort I 86320 106467 192787
Cohort II 72086 92617 164703
Total 158406 199084 357490

Although, COBET has enabled so many children to receive some education a lot more needs to be done because the attained Net Enrolment Ratio is not yet 100%. While it went up to 100% in 2006 it has now dropped to 95.9% in 2009. This means that there are still 4.1% of school age children who are not enrolled in Standard One.
Even among those who have enrolled in Standard One, drop-out is still a problem and it constitutes an average of 3.7% of those enrolled in standard I-VII (URT, 2009). Available statistics indicate, for example, that in absolute numbers, thousands of children drop-out of school every year because of several reasons including truancy, followed by pregnancy and lack of school needs.
Table 2: Drop-out by Reason in Primary Schools, 2002-2007
Reason for dropout 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Truancy 32469 44742 44603 53032 50401
Pregnancy 2590 3479 3190 4362 3370
Death 3078 3268 2705 4492 3898
Lack of School Needs 4389 4986 3018 3163
Parents/Guardians Illness 725
1284 536
1425 731
1561 630
Others 3702 12374 9585

Source: Basic Educational Statistics in Tanzania (BEST) 2005-2009 pg. 19

In addition to that, UNICEF field report has also indicated growing concern over reduced funding support for COBET despite the fact that many children are still out of school.

While Tanzania has recorded nearly 199% primary intake rate, many children do not complete primary school cycle. Certainly, Tanzania cannot meet the target of ensuring that by 2015 all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to and complete free and compulsory primary education of good quality (EFA Goal No. 2) if concerted efforts are not made especially in exploiting opportunities and potentials of alternative learning approaches to basic education like COBET.

While these concerns are being recorded it is also important to note that the implementation of the new policy on compulsory and free primary education (abolition of school fees) which has been introduced as part of PEDP might have led to a marked decline in numbers of children participating in COBET classes in recent years.


It is for all these reasons that there was need to re-evaluate the current status and future utility of COBET as a strategic intervention to ensure access to quality education for all primary school-aged children in Tanzania. One of the key questions was whether or not COBET still fulfilled the needs of certain groups of children and if so who were these children and where were they?


Area of Study

This is a major national evaluation to assess the effectiveness of COBET (and other alternative approaches to basic education) as a strategic intervention to ensure access to quality education for all primary school-aged children. Therefore, its coverage had to be adequate and sufficiently broad to provide a national picture of the situation of COBET that could inform policy making nationally and at the sub-national level. Implementation of COBET is done at district levels. There are 130 districts in the country. This evaluation exercise covered 13 districts. The districts were selected purposively and strategically to make sure that they included a sub-sample of nomadic, UNICEF supported Learning Districts and districts in North-Western part of Tanzania. Accordingly, care was taken in the selection of districts to ensure that they provided urban, peri-urban and rural perspective.

Table 3: Districts involved in the Study
S/N District Criteria for selection
1. Temeke Urban perspective
2. Mwanza City Urban perspective
3. Shinyanga Urban Urban perspective
4. Dodoma Urban Urban perspective

5. Bukoba Rural Rural Perspective
6. Mtwara Rural Rural Perspective UNICEF Learning District
7. Makete Rural Perspective UNICEF Learning District

8. Bagamoyo Peri-Urban and UNICEF Learning District
9. Kisarawe Peri-Urban and UNICEF Learning District
10. Siha Peri-Urban and UNICEF Learning District

11. Kibondo North-Western and UNICEF Learning District
12. Ngara North-Western and UNICEF Learning District

13. Monduli Nomadic

Initially, we had planned to visit six COBET centres in each district. However, during ZOPP workshop, it was decided that a minimum of four centres in each district would be sufficient to provide the needed information since this would be complimented by other sources like interviews with headteachers, district and ward education coordinators, parents and school committees. During fieldwork it was further learned that the original COBET centres had been dissolved and the learners had been mainstreamed into the normal primary school classes where the COBET centres were attached. In each district, a list of schools with COBET learners was provided, five schools were selected (except in Mtwara and Monduli where only four schools were selected) to form the sample as indicated in Table 4. Rural/Urban dichotomy was considered in the choice of centers.

Table 4: Schools Involved in the study

S/N District School S/N District School
1. BUKOBA RURAL Ibosa 8. MONDULI Mazoezi
Kashozi Mlimani
Kilimilile Sinoni
Ntoma lashaine
2. MWANZA Kuleana 9. SIHA Nasai
Buswelu Rozline
Milongo Sanya Juu
Bugongwa Karansi
Kirumba kandashi
3. TEMEKE Majimatitu 10. KIBONDO Kabwigwa
Sokoine Kinyinya
Temeke Nyarubogo
Wailes Kazilamihunda
Azimio Mabamba
4. KISARAWE Masanganya 11. SHINYANGA Ushirika
Visegese Town
Mwanzomgumu Kambarage
Chanzige B Buhangija
Kazimzumbwe Kitangira
5. BAGAMOYO Majengo 12. MAKETE Ivalalila
Nia Njema Ikovo
Mwanamakuka Iwawa
Zinga Mfumbi
Miembesaba Matamba
6. DODOMA Kaloleni 13. NGARA Njiapanda
Ipagula Kamunazi
Chang’ombe Kumuyange
Vilindoni Kanazi
Nkuhungu Ngara Mjini
7. MTWARA Ndumbwe

1.4.2 Selection of the sample
In order to obtain a holistic picture of the current status of the COBET programme and its future utility information was sought from a selected number of stakeholders involved in implementation of the programme. These included learners, teachers, ward education coordinators, parents, members of the community/school board, district education officials and Ministry officials as indicated in Table 5.
Table 5: Categories of Sample
Category Female Male Total
Ministry Officials 1 2 3
District Education Officials 8 8 16
Ward Education Coordinators 34 57 91
Head Teachers 13 50 63
Teachers 42 36 78
Learners 120 138 258
Parents 54 66 110
Community Members 36 68 104
Total 89 104 193

In order to get easy access to the communities one locally- based research assistant was recruited in each of the 13 districts and assisted in the process of data collection and familiarization of the researchers with the local context. The team of researchers and research assistants had both females and males and this was done deliberately so that sensitive issues related with gender were observed. Follow-up discussions with various government officials and key stakeholders were also conducted to get more information that enriched, verified and complimented findings obtained from the field.

1.4.3 Sources of information and Methods of Data Collection
A combination of methods was used to gather both primary and secondary data (information). These included:
o Documentary review/desk study
o Observations
o Focus group discussion with children, teachers, parents and school committee memebers
o Interviews with children, teachers, parents, school boards, district officials and Ministry officials
o Questionnaires with teachers, head teachers and ward education coordinators
ZOPP Workshop
Before commencement of fieldwork, A ZOPP workshop was held with a small and selected number of key stakeholders (MoEVT officials, curriculum developers, Inspectors, and researchers) to discuss and reach consensus on areas of investigation. The objectives of the ZOPP workshop included the following:
• To brainstorm on variables that needed to be investigated
• Discuss and agree on the research process.
• Discuss and refine the research instruments.

Documentary Review/Desk sSudy
This involved review of relevant documents and existing policies on equity and education and approaches to addressing equity issues including COBET. Documentary review also generated information and lessons on alternative learning approaches as practiced elsewhere but more specifically from areas where we had shared characteristics. Apart from this, quantitative data in terms of enrolment trends over the last three years and variations by region were generated from EMIS and analysis of the annual Basic Education Statistics reports. These data were verified against specific data from the 13 districts that were visited.

Classroom observation was made to examine the teaching methods used in teaching, their suitability to the target group as the mode of assessment. Apart from this, observation was also used to gather information related to the activities that children performed (if any) as part of skills training and the facilities to make possible quality teaching and learning.

These were conducted with MoEVT officials particularly those who dealt with primary education and alternative learning approaches (Non-Formal Education). At district level interviews were conducted with the District Education Officers and COBET coordinators. The purpose of these interviews especially at the national level was to generate information on policy matters with a particular focus on equity issues and approaches to enhance equitable access to education including practices of COBET. At the district level interviews generated information on the implementation status and the future utility of COBET as a strategic intervention to ensure access to quality education for all primary school-aged children. The district officials are directly involved in monitoring and supervising the implementation of COBET so they have first hand information on its current status.

Interviews are time consuming and cannot reach many respondents. Therefore, group interviews or focus group discussions were conducted with children, members of the school boards and parents. The purpose of the discussions was to get first hand information particularly from children themselves on the current status of COBET, their views on the relevance of the programme as well as on teaching and learning. The members of the school boards and parents also assisted to give information on how they saw the programme running, its potential contribution in providing access to quality education and suggestions for improved practice. The discussions assisted to cross-check information obtained through other techniques.

Based on the purpose of the review, and issues to be explored, a framework of flexible checklist of questions was developed to be explored in the course of interviews. This helped to make data collection systematic for each respondent while at the same time making best use of the limited time available to conduct this study.

Given the potential advantages of questionnaire to be able to collect large amount of standardized data, it was used to gather broader information on COBET including baseline and quantitative information from teachers, Head teachers and Ward Education Coordinators. Teachers are direct implementers of COBET and they interact with learners. They were therefore, in a good position to give information on the quality and adequacy of the teaching materials, and the overall strengths and weaknesses of COBET. Head teachers and Ward Education Coordinators play an important role in a school. They supervise daily functioning of both COBET and normal school classes. They were involved in the study to provide information on the status of COBET in their respective working areas, its future utility as a strategic intervention to equitable access to education, its funding, adequacy of materials, quality of facilitators and the reasons for gender parity in enrolment. They were also asked additional questions that generated information on the quality of COBET teachers, the lessons leanrned and suggestions for a way forward. Questionnaires had both closed and open ended questions and were self administered.
1.4.4 Data Analysis
Information gathered through interviews was analysed to identify issues and later on was arranged into emerging themes. The themes enabled the team to assess the effectiveness of COBET (and other alternative approaches to basic education) and its future utility as a strategic intervention to ensure access to quality basic education for all primary-aged and over-aged children.

Quantitative data from the questionnaires were analysed quantitatively to explain relationships of variables and for comparability purposes. Tables and charts have been used to summarise statistical data. Data from open ended questions have been treated in the same manner as data from interviews while documentary review has been subjected to content analysis.

Findings and Conclusions:

In this Chapter findings of the study are presented, analysed and discussed. The Chapter makes an impact assessment of the COBET programme by analyzing how the alternative learning centres/classes have been functioning, their organizational structure and the profile of learners and their characteristics in terms of their age, educational background and life experiences. This Chapter also describes the achievements made by the programme as perceived by the learners themselves, parents and other stakeholders. Within the structure of the learning process, overall pedagogical issues are discussed with a particular focus on the teachers and the teaching methods employed in COBET classes.

4.2 The Profile of learners
One of the tasks of this study was to collect and analyse the learners’ profiles and experiences of learning in the COBET centres/classes. It was assumed that the learners’ individual and collective profiles and experiences play a significant role in determining their needs and motives to enroll in the programme. They can also provide a full picture of the kind of support/intervention that needs to be offered to address their educational needs when the programme is continued to be supported by UNICEF. These were collected in terms of their age, educational background and life experiences.

In the questionnaire that was distributed to 63 heads of school where COBET classes are situated, a question was asked that sought information on the age range of the children in the alternative learning classes. More than three quarters of the head teachers indicated that the average age of children in these classes especially for Cohort II ranged from 15 to 18 years. This information confirmed what the researchers had observed around the schools and within a randomly selected sample of 258 children to participate in focus group discussions. It was found out that most learners were aged between 15 and 18 years. It was interesting to note that, currently, there were no distinct COBET centres. In virtually all districts, COBET learners had been integrated into normal classes with the claim that there were no longer funds to pay for the facilitators so that they can be handled separately. Accordingly, it was also interesting to learn that teachers were mainly referring to Cohort II when asked about COBET learners. Children who had been mainstreamed from Cohort I were still young and unless one asked about their specific age; the difference from the normal school-age children was not easily noticeable.

As regards to educational background, it was observed that the learners were of mixed educational backgrounds. Some had never been inside the walls of a classroom while others had started but had dropped out at different levels. Notwithstanding this fact, enrolment in the normal classes was free with the exception of few schools like Mwanzomgumu in Kisarawe where they were required to put on uniforms.

With regard to life experiences and what the children/learners were doing before they joined the programme, a variety of responses were given. Most learners indicated that they were engaged in a diversity of activities such as fish scaling, petty trading, car washing and/ or other income generating activities. According to the teachers, most of the COBET learners were vulnerable and disadvantaged. A good number were either orphans or those from poor families. There were also others (particularly those found in street children centres) who have been living/working on the streets with other youngsters and engaged in delinquent behaviour like bang smoking, drugs and even theft. Nonetheless, all have now decided to change the course of their lives into a different direction; to lead decent lives and become productive and useful persons in society.

4.3 Reasons for not enrolling in regular primary school classes
COBET programme wouldn’t have been a necessity if all school-age children were enrolled in school, and were able to be retained in school until they complete the primary education cycle. This study was therefore, interested in documenting the reasons that have kept some children out-of-school. Since this was not the main objective of the evaluation, this study did not explore more deeply these reasons. However, through interviews with the learners, parents and teachers, it was noted that the reasons for not enrolling in school in the first place or dropping out were varied from one person to the other. Most of them have already been documented in various reports (UNICEF, 2006a & 2006b and Mbise et al 2009). However, through the learners’ own voices, parents and head teachers the following three major reasons were extracted and included in this report.

4.3.1 Cost of schooling accompanied with poverty: One factor that was readily mentioned by almost all parents and children interviewed was the cost of schooling. It was difficult for poor families to afford education. Even though primary education is compulsory and no fees are currently charged, there are still some hidden direct and indirect costs that inhibit families from sending their children to school. These include for example, uniforms, exercise books and food that most parents, especially those living in the rural areas, are unable to meet. The Majority of such parents live below the poverty line with failing to attain even their basic needs such as adequate food, and clean and safe water and health facilities let alone education. Therefore, some children are forced into child labour of one form or another and others have to assume the role of breadwinners/active income earners to meet their personal basic needs and get surplus to help in their families as can be seen from the following interview extract:

I am grateful to the COBET programme although I didn’t go far. I was born in a family of seven children. My mother went up to class four and my father up to class seven. However, they are currently separated. My father decided to move to a neighbouring village where he got married to another woman. He abandoned our mother together with us. He ceased to support us in any form. So we didn’t go to school. Our mother could not afford to pay for our school fees and other expenses. She was just a peasant and found the family of seven children just too big for a single parent. She worked so hard in the farm but what she earned was only enough for our survival. We had to engage ourselves in paid child labour to supplement the family income and that is how we got money to buy cloths. My brother went to Dar es Salaam where he is assisting our Aunt with petty business. I was also approached by many people to go to work as a house maid. However, I didn’t want to leave my mother alone. I realised that I was very skilled in hair plaiting and slowly I started charging a little money for that service. At least I could contribute something to the family income

I am the eldest child in a family of three children. My parents died when I was a young girl. We grew up under the care of our grandmother. I didn’t go to school because I had to assist my grandmother in agricultural activities and to take care of my two young brothers. After all, she didn’t have even money to get us uniforms and school expenses. The best she could do for us was to give us love and shelter...

4.3.2 Migration: Migration also plays a vital role in dropping out of school especially in Coastal areas because of marital problems (see also Bhalalusesa, 2008) and mobility for pastoral communities like in Monduli and Siha. Proper procedures that require a transfer certificate have to be followed for a child to move from one school to another. Since the procedures are usually cumbersome and time consuming, most parents, guardians and orphaned children are either ignorant about the procedures or do not have time to follow them through. Finally children end up dropping out from school. It was evident in this study that many children dropped out of school because they did not follow the proper procedures of getting permission before they traveled or moved from one place to another as can be reflected from an interview extract with one child in Ngara:

My parents were not staying together. I don’t remember when they got separated but I must have been very young. So I grew up with my mother and grandmother in a village. My mother used to travel a lot to buy some stuff from Zanzibar for selling in Ngara town and sometimes in the village. When I was in grade Four my mother fell sick and could no longer travel. After a long illness she finally died. Life changed tremendously. There wasn’t anybody to buy school uniform for me and my immediate young brother. My grandmother was really very old and needed help as well. One day I saw a man coming to see us and talk to our grandmother. I was later introduced that he was our father and he had come to pick us to go and stay with him. There wasn’t time for discussion. We were taken over by our father to another distant village where we had to stay with our step mother. When I reached there I tried to go to school but I had no documents to show that I was a school pupil somewhere and in which class. I was refused admission. My father did not bother to go back and get my transfer forms. He said I was just a girl and perhaps would end up like my mother…I despaired and accepted the situation until after two years when COBET was introduced in this village.

It was also interesting to note that many children were not living with their biological parents. Apart from those who were orphans and had to stay with their relatives or grandparents, it was observed that many children’s parents particularly in Mtwara and Kisarawe either separated or had migrated to Dar es Salaam. It was also reported that Mwanza and Kahama are currently expanding and attract a lot of migrants from neighbouring districts like Kibondo and Ngara where they have remarried or are earning income through employment and/or petty business. Some of these people have left children in their home districts with relatives especially grand parents. Sometimes these children were forced by circumstances to support themselves regardless of the fact that they were staying with relatives. There is no doubt that this kind of life leaves very little time for schooling.

4.3.3 Parents’ lack of awareness on the value of education
It was evident from the findings that for some parents, education was not a priority and they did not see if sending their children to school had any added value. According to the information gathered from the Head teachers such parents hide their children during census which is normally done every year before enrolment of standard one. The reasons for hiding them were varied but it was common for children with severe disability (for protection purposes) and in poor families where parents preferred their children to assist in household work like cattle keeping or petty business rather than going to school as it can be seen from the following interview extract with one out of school child in Shinyanga:
My parents did not know the importance of education. My father did not go to school, at all and so is my mother. My father said there wasn’t any need of going to school because it was a waste of time. He wanted me to look after his cows…

Accordingly, due to lack of awareness on the value of education, it was also revealed that in some parts of Tanzania the decision to send a child to school still depended on the prevalent cultural practices and traditional norms. For example, it was learned that Maasai traditions do encourage early marriage among girls such that some girls are booked for marriage even before they are born. It was also reported that humiliation was directed toward those who decided to join school during traditional dances (‘esoto’ dance). During this traditional dance which is mainly performed by both boys and girls, boys who are in school encounter public humiliation from girls that instead of dancing with their fiancée they dance with teachers and corporal punishment. The question of early marriage was not an exception for Masaai alone. It was evident even in other societies and has already been documented in previous studies [see for example, Tumbo-Masabo and Liljestrom,(1994); Peasgood et al., (1997) and Bhalalusesa, (2002)]. Parents prefer girls to marry early and start their own families. Sometimes this is taken as a preventive measure from unwanted early pregnancy. Keeping them in school when they are already above school age was seen as a way of advocating their prolonged dependence and most parents are not able to hold them long.
 Reasons for being out-of-school
 Parents’ lack of financial ability to meet School needs
 Lack of support after death of both parents
 Lack of permanent settlements
 Need for students to engage in various economic activities.
 Lack of awareness to the importance of education

4.4 COBET as a second chance: Reasons for joining COBET Classes
In order to get a clear and fair picture on the COBET programme and whether or not it has produced any tangible results, it was thought important to explore from the COBET learners themselves what made them participate in the programme and if their expectations were being met. The summary of their responses is presented in Table 11:

Table 11: Reasons for enrolling in COBET Classes
Type of response Frequency (N= 258) Percentage
I wanted to know how to read and write 59 23
To complete primary education(dropped out before completion) 36 14
To complete std seven and proceed with secondary education 104 40.6
My parents told me to join 35 13.5
The only possible route to repeat Std Seven 23 8.9
Total Percentage 100

Table 11 indicates that COBET learners had different motives for joining COBET classes. A good number of learners perceived COBET programme as a second chance through which they were able to read and write or complete primary education (for those who dropped out before completion) and if possible proceed with secondary education. There was also a group of learners who seemed to have joined the programme because their parents told them to do so. These were likely to drop out from the programme.

It was also interesting to note that in some situations the COBET programme has been used as another entry point for primary school repeaters. Children who don’t make it in primary school examination shifted to very distant villages where they joined COBET classes (mainly in Cohort Two) and get another opportunity to sit for primary school leaving examination. This was evident in Negara and Siva.

Despite the wide variation in the reasons for dropping out-of-school or non-enrolment, the learners had one shared characteristic in that they were all self motivated to learn. Unlike children, who attended school because they were obliged to do so, COBET learners were conscious of what they were doing. They knew why they had been out of the school system, why they had decided to come back or why they had decided to start afresh though over aged. For some this was like a golden chance to recover the lost opportunity. As a whole, most of them were seriously committed and looking forward to attaining skills for self- employment.
COBET has enabled my dream to come true. I had always wished to become educated and was only unsure how to make this happen. Given my age I could no longer join standard one. I was just hoping to join adult literacy classes one day. Unfortunately the classes are no more functioning, Indeed COBET came as a blessing and I can assure you I will work hard to the best of my ability until I compensate the lost chance.

4.5 Usefulness of the COBET programme
One way of looking at the usefulness of COBET programme is to learn from the views and opinions of the programme beneficiaries themselves (learners), from the parents, community members of areas where the COBET centers were located as well as from the teachers. Much of this has already been documented by UNICEF (2006a&b) based on the evaluation of the five districts that were involved in the pilot programme. The report of the MOEVT together with PMORALG (2006) which covered the whole country also gave indication of the usefulness of COBET programme as voiced by the learners themselves. The current study did not get a different picture. Group discussions were held with children who are still on the programme and those who have graduated from the programme. Generally speaking all learners and parents were very positive about the programme except for some few issues related with management of the programme and how the programme was perceived by the general public.

Most of the learners interviewed stated that the programme had helped them to know how to read, write and do simple arithmetic within a short time. This was further exemplified by an exercise given to the children in which they had to write down about themselves, all that they felt confident and capable of doing as a result of being in the programme as well as all those things they did not like about the programme. Almost all children were able to express themselves in writing and their handwriting was legible.

Apart from reading, writing and simple arithmetic, the learners also acknowledged that the design of the programme does not only permit multiple entries as we have already observed but also exists to other openings depending on the learner’s abilities. For some learners COBET has provided them a second chance to secondary education: some were young adults up to the age of 25 and in normal circumstances could not be in secondary schools.

Omari Saidi a 22 years old is another good example who appreciates COBET even though he did not make it to secondary school:

I was admitted in Primary one when I was six years of age. But my father was very cruel and did not want me to continue with primary education but MADRASA (the Islamic knowledge) to him that was the most important because it was connecting me with the spiritual world. I dropped my primary education very early in Std One and continued with madras to the highest level “the seventh pillar”(nguzoya saba) with which I qualified to be a teacher for madrasa and Quoran. When I completed madrasa I decided on my own to register with COBET but the physical abuse by my father was too much to tolerat. I decided to do something without thinking of the consequences because life was meaningless at home; so I said to myself “come what may”. In that class of COBET there was one student who convinced me that the two of us could go anywhere for better life and promised to guide me. Without informing my parents I moved with this friend. He paid for my fare to Morogoro. Unfortunately, when we reached there, he disappeared leaving me behind helpless. I did not know what to do in that foreign town. Fortunately, I saw a lady asked her if she could show me any bus that was going to Dar es Salaam. She showed me Abood bus which I boarded but I had no single penny in my pocket. On our way the bus conductor learned that I did not have a ticket. When he asked me to pay I told him the truth. He was mad about it and wanted me to get out of the bus so that they could continue with the journey to Dar. He wanted to leave me at the middle of the forest. I begged him and thanks God other passengers requested him to have mercy on me. I started regretting for the decision I made particularly for not knowing what is going to happen to me next. But I said to myself life at home was not any better so come what may.
On my arrival at Mnazimmoja station in Dar I went straight to the mosque where I thought I would be guaranteed warm reception and full protection, but to my surprise when I reached there no one listened. I was too hungry to think of anything else but to request some food from one of the food vendors on that street who without any hesitation gave me some food after telling her some bits of my story and that it was my second day without food. That night I had nowhere to sleep so the food vendor sent me to the ten cell leader who accepted me and in the morning handed me over to the police. The police handed me over to the Social Welfare unit where they placed me in one of the street Children centres in Mbezi Luis where I was registered with COBET class in that area.
At one time I decided to go back home anticipating that my father would have changed. When I got there my father had become even worse so I just boarded a bus back to the centre. At the centre they refused to re-register me because I had told them that I was going home and would not come back. Then I moved to Dogodogo centre where I was accepted. I could not cope with life in that centre because more children were older that me and mistreated me so I decided to move to Tuamoyo-Kigamboni area. I registered, did and passed STD IV examination and was allowed to enter STD V in COBET class and thereafter shifted to this centre in Bagamoyo (Manunda). I have now finished Std seven but was not selected to continue with secondary education. Nonetheless, I am thankful to COBET as I would have grown illiterate. I am sure this is not the end of my educational ladder as I am told another programme for those who missed secondary education opportunity is soon coming out…

Another notable strength which was mentioned by all respondents was the relevance of the COBET programme especially in skill provision. The Subjects “Stadi za Kazi” and “Maarifa” for Cohort II learners were mentioned to contain topics that were relevant and useful in life.

The third aspect of usefulness was flexibility of the programme. The profile of learners shows that most children do not choose not to go to school. Sometimes they are obliged to assist in household chores and some serve as source of income. It was evident from the findings that children in most of the districts studied generally work hard on a range of domestic work. Child work is of importance to the household economy and is almost certainly a key factor in children not accessing formal schooling. For such children COBET is a viable alternative since it allows them ample time to fulfill these obligations. They can work while learning.

There is also ample evidence from the learners themselves who have graduated from this programme, as well as parents and community members that the programme has been very instrumental in changing the learners’ behaviour in a positive way. During focus group discussion, most parents stated that their children are now hardworking, are usually ready to work and attend school. According to the parents, the children have seen their fellow colleagues who joined the programme earlier being mainstreamed into normal classes and some of them going up to secondary school. This has inspired them to do the same.

4.6 What has COBET programme achieved so far?

From the districts that were visited COBET has demonstrated many achievements and has made a significant change in terms of numbers of children who have completed primary education in addition to those who have completed the same level through formal schooling. Table 12 shows COBET learners who completed the three years cycle and sat for the Standard Four Examination and passed in some of the districts which participated in the study.

Table 12: COBET learners who passed STD four examination in 2008 in some districts
District Female Male Total
Bukoba Rural 152 206 358
Mwanza 816 703 1519
Ngara 116 202 318
Kibondo 16 4 20
Kisarawe 53 115 168
Makete 51 225 286
Source: Field data

Percentage wise all District Education Officials in the 13 districts said that about 70% of out of school children have enrolled and completed primary school through COBET.

In each district that was visited it was also evident that a good number of pupils have passed Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) and have joined secondary education who otherwise would never go to secondary schools because they were already left out of the school system (see Table 13). The fact that COBET students are mature enough to think of their future and they have learnt how difficult life is without education, they become more serious and can easily pass to go for further education. Some of these children have completed A levels others are still doing A levels who might go into higher learning institutions. For example, it is said that a student who passed from one of the COBET classes in Bagamoyo who is in Kibaha Secondary School is very capable academically and is likely to go to university next year. This situation has changed some peoples’ attitude towards the programme as they thought it was only meant for achieving the 3R but now that some children have gone that far others will join.

Table 13: COBET Learners selected to join Secondary School by 2008
District Female Male Total
Ngara 66 199 265
Makete 21 32 53
Mwanza 5 190 195
Bukoba Rural N/A N/A N/A
Monduli 8 2 10
Bagamoyo - 6 6
Kibondo 21 36 57
Dodoma 42 129 171
Kisarawe 4 61 65
Siha - 1 1

However, some think COBET is capable of achieving more and reach the intended goal if it is taken more seriously and funded adequately because for now many children who enrolled have dropped out of the programme without any follow-up. It is seen as something not serious.

Summary of achievements and usefulness of the COBET programme
 Increased provision of basic education for the out-of-school children
 Provided a second opportunity for the dropouts to come back to school and being integrated into normal classes
 Helped to shape and change behaviour in a positive way. Children/Youth now spend their time in a useful way
 Inspired other out-of-school children to like school and regain courage and the lost confidence especially for married girls.
 Raised parents’ awareness of the value of education
 Reduced child labour
 Improved vocational skills hence created/improved chances for self employment
 Ability to perform a variety of activities as per skills and knowledge gained
 Reduced the number of youths who would have grown into adult illiterates
 Opened doors for further learning. Some children have been selected to continue with secondary education
 Socialization

4.7 Assessment of the current status of COBET

4.7.1 What do statistics say?
National statistics show that a good number of children who were left out of formal schooling have joined alternative routes of getting their basic education but COBET classes have proved to be the most popular alternative national wide. For example, from 2006 to 2009 a total of 601,089 pupils were admitted in COBET classes in the country (Table 14)

Table 14 : Number of COBET pupils per Region from 2007-2009

2007 2008 2009
ARUSHA 3070 2147 5217 2572 1983 4555 1688 1211 2899
DSM 2433 1766 4199 4234 3904 8138 1162 1009 2171
DODOMA 6984 5249 12233 4098 3552 7650 1728 1165 2893
IRINGA 2845 1925 4770 1369 1055 2424 1044 831 1875
KAGERA 5975 4889 10864 3002 2342 5344 2727 2169 4896
KIGOMA 5859 5945 11804 4373 4376 8749 5432 4667 10099
K’NJARO 831 462 1293 820 386 1206 690 454 1144
LINDI 4708 3226 7934 2535 1964 4499 2758 2060 4818
MANYARA 3243 2550 5793 2598 2131 4729 671 454 1125
MARA 5942 4286 10228 2307 1458 3765 480 326 806
MBEYA 2656 1704 4360 2727 1749 4476 1548 1055 2603
MOROGORO 7340 4877 12217 1292 993 2285 1004 783 1787
MTWARA 3286 1565 4851 1876 1203 3079 1807 1209 3016
MWANZA 11825 9421 21246 6188 4471 10659 5539 4252 9791
PWANI 3529 1984 5513 2136 1229 3365 1146 746 1892
RUKWA 4322 3708 8030 4813 4610 9423 3114 3005 6119
RUVUMA 4049 2962 7011 238 141 379 1129 913 2042
SHINYANGA 6569 4472 11041 5314 3828 9142 2924 2030 4954
SINGIDA 3567 2480 6047 2177 1373 3550 1688 1264 2952
TABORA 11570 9103 20673 3791 2669 6460 5950 4132 10082
TANGA 5860 4022 9882 4626 2910 7536 2862 2163 5025
TOTAL 106463 78743 185206 63086 48327 111413 47091 35898 82989

Source: URT (Basic Education Statistics, 2009)

In districts that were visited the situation reflects the national statistics that there are COBET classes in progress. However, the trend shows that the admission has been decreasing year after year with exception of very few regions as Table 15 indicates.

Table 15 : Current enrolment from the field by 2009
District 2005 2006 2007 2008
Makete 294 180 474 *** *** 286 161 162 423 44 35 79
Monduli *** *** *** 407 285 692 393 233 626 259 157 416
Ngara 1900 2075 3975 2252 1823 4075 1622 1667 3289 1548 1666 3214
Bukoba (V) *** *** *** 902 642 1544 782 488 1220 *** *** ***
Mwz (M) 1821 1577 3398 1756 1375 3131 960 1121 2081 761 950 1711
Shy (U) 584 647 1231
Siha* - - - - - - - - - 24 43 *67
Dodoma 951 584 1535 830 735 1376 506 316 822 579 374 953
B’moyo 1782 1662 3444 769 419 1188 769 419 1188 534 272 806
Kisarawe 1018 658 1676 918 608 1526 493 201 694 87 21 108
Mtw R)** 109 102 211 411 314 725 40 29 69 89 35 124
Kibondo 1526 1659 3185 1138 1281 2419 2309 2401 4710 584 647 1231
Temeke 3833 3278 7111 4985 3122 8107 4457 4314 8771 3305 3176 6481

Source: Field data 2009.
* The district is new, therefore COBET has just started
**Available data is for a single centre not for the entire district
*** Data not available

This situation leaves much to be desired. During field visit in the districts and schools, the researchers went further to get an actual picture of the current status of the COBET programme. It was evident that the initial momentum that COBET gained when it started as a pilot project and later on as a nation-wide programme is no more the same. Majority of the original centres that were established following lessons gained from successful implementation of the pilot project have been closed down except in few cases like Ngara and Mwanza (Buswelu) where there is still donor funding.

4.7.2 Reasons for declining numbers in COBET classes
This situation can be explained from several perspectives. From a very positive contemplation, one can be optimistic and say that perhaps COBET is achieving its mission of capturing all out of school children hence the decrease in number. Ideally, this was the original thinking and the philosophy behind COBET programme. It was expected that if all school-age children are enrolled in school and there is maximum internal efficiency within the formal education system then COBET would be a temporary measure to clear the backlog of over-aged children. However, there is ample evidence to show that while participation in primary education is increasing we are still far from universal primary education. In some districts and places pockets of illiteracy are still evident and the NET enrolment ratio is still low. In Tabora Region, for example, it is as low as 88.2% (URT, 2009).

The second explanation would be that contrary to when it started, there are pupils for one reason or another who do not register at all even though they may be identified during census. This is linked with the third explanation both of which signify declining motivation among potential learners to willingly come forward and enroll with the COBET programme.

Another explanation could be the consequences of closing down COBET centres and mainstreaming all learners into regular classes. Integration of COBET learners within the normal classes especially after 2006 has created confusion and desperation among COBET learners and this has led into drop out for some of them. It was brought to the attention of the researchers that since 2007 the central government issued a directive for the district councils to self finance COBET programme; the implementation of which was to mix all children together so that the same primary school teachers could teach both children without claiming for additional payment as they get salaries. Many para-professional teachers were forced to stop teaching because the district councils failed to sustain payment of their honoraria.

While mixing COBET learners with normal school pupils was taken as a means to solving the problem of teachers, it was received with mixed feelings by both the learners themselves as well as teachers. The teachers on one hand, had to learn on how to deal with this situation and be able to apply multi-grade teaching skills. The COBET learners on the other had to go through a rough experience. In the first place they were over-aged with diversified life experiences as well as educational background. Some of them were young adults. Therefore, they felt very uncomfortable and embarrassed sitting together with very young children. They were also forced to bear with the situation of mixing with their young sisters and brothers and orient themselves to the rules of the game in formalized school setting which they had failed to access before. The situation was made worse when they demonstrated deficiency in mastery of subjects being taught or failed to answer questions correctly. During focus group discussion they reported that many times the younger children ridiculed and teased them particularly when they perform poorly in the class. Sometimes even teachers made nasty comments unaware that it hurt these children as experienced by one COBET learner who finally decided to withdraw himself from classes:

I was still thinking of an answer and suddenly I head the teacher telling me: How can a big person like you fail to answer a simple question like this. You are just big for nothing. The whole class was bursting into laughter. I felt embarrassed. Since then I have never gone back to school…)

Certainly, some decided to go back to where they had been before.

When the programme was introduced in our village, my mother came and told me about it. By that time I had already accepted that I am growing to be an illiterate adult. So I joined it with great eagerness. The first year was really wonderful because we had our own teachers and a separate room. However, during the second year, we were mixed up with normal school children. The only difference was uniforms. For us putting on a uniform was not mandatory. I felt embarrassed because I looked so big compared with other girls. You could easily see the difference. The boys teased me that it was already too late. I better had looked for a husband to marry rather than continue to waste time with things I should have done many years ago. They said girls of my age were not there. These words not only embarrassed me, but they also irritated and pained me. I decided to go back to where I had been before.

4.7.3 COBET: Second Best Option?

Despite all the positive aspects of the COBET programme it was also revealed from the findings that the learners were not very happy being where they were. The COBET programme was treated as second best and sometimes the children were despised and ridiculed. The learning environment was also unconducive as can be seen in the following pictures taken from Ngara District. The three pictures seem different although they are situated in one premise. On the left hand side is a good primary school and on the the right hand side is a COBET class.


7.2.1 General Recommendations The need for reliable national data on out-of- school children
Available research findings show that there is still a large number of children and youths with special learning needs, who cannot easily access formal system such as pastoralists and nomadic communities, hunters, gatherers, working children from poor families, girls, the disabled, orphans, as well as street children and those in worst forms of child labour. As observed by earlier studies see for example Bhalalusesa (2006) and also confirmed by findings of this study the exact number of this group is not known given the limited availability of reliable information and data in non-formal education sub-sector. The government has established a system of gathering, storing and reporting information on non-formal education from communities through District Adult Education Coordinators to Ministry of Education and Vocational Training. However, the task of collecting, processing and keeping statistical data and information is not yet in place. Delivery of information from the ward to the district level and vice versa is done physically. The Ward Education Officers travel long distances around the schools as well as to and from the district using their own fares but sometimes on foot (Bhalalusesa, 2005). Consequently, accurate, reliable and timely information on non-formal education at all levels is missing. This, then, creates a doubtful state of inaccurate and unrealistic data on numbers of out-of-school children, enrolment figures, learning centres, numbers of disabled children and so on. There is therefore need for the Ministry of Education and Vocational training (Adult and Non Formal Education Department) to establish a data base from where reliable statistical information concerning the sub-sector can be obtained.

In the context of this study reliable data has to be established before further steps of reviving COBET programme are taken. This entails a national census of out-of-school children: how many they are, where they are mainly concentrated as well as their educational/training needs. The Need for policy statement on the position of over-aged children
One of the major observations revealed by this study is the integration of COBET learners into regular primary school classes as a result of the 2006 MoEVT directive to that effect. While this has been implemented throughout the country, the education policy (currently under review) still specifies clearly that the age range for primary education is 7 to 13years. As observed in this study, mixing old and young learners has created tension and confusion among all actors involved especially the children themselves and their teachers. The reasons which kept the children out of school are still the same and no measures have been taken to ensure that they will be retained within the formal system. To attain uniformity, COBET learners in some schools are required to put on uniforms. Again, the policy that COHORT I learners attend classes for three years consecutively before they sit for National Standard IV Examinations and once they qualify be mainstreamed to formal schooling has been deviated. The same applies to COHORT II learners who were supposed to go through the condensed three-year cycle and attempt the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) and join secondary education or vocational institutions. What is currently on the ground is not clearly defined and the fate of COBET learners as originally conceptualized is not known. There is need therefore, for the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training to re-examine the policy implications of its 2006 directive and issue operational guidelines to guide implementation especially if the over age children continue to remain integrated in regular classes.

7.2.2 Specific Recommendations to revive and strengthen COBET The need to treat COBET learners as a distinct group from children in regular classes
While there were some substantive reasons which led to the 2006 Directive to integrate COBET learners into regular classes, findings of this study has clearly demonstrated that its implementation has marked a new page for the survival of the programme and the good intention of the government to provide access to quality basic education to all children. This kind of grouping has posed several problems to facilitators, the learners themselves and even the children in regular classes. There is need therefore to go back to the original practice whereby COBET learners were handled separately and taught as a unique group. Since the curriculum is already in place there is no need of re-designing the programme. However, modifications within the curriculum itself and its implementation will need to be made as indicated in the recommendations which follow hereafter. The need for District Councils to establish COBET Fund for children selected to continue with Secondary Education
As COBET centres are re-established and revived, there is need for the MoEVT in collaboration with PMO-RALG to sensitize District and Municipal Councils to mobilize resources and set aside special fund that will continue to support COBET learners selected to continue with secondary education. It has been evident that some COBET learners perform well in the PSLE and a good number have been selected to join secondary schools. However, some of these did not make it in the regular primary school system because of lack of money to meet school needs. Certainly, selection to secondary school is an additional burden to the families of such children. The special COBET Fund will motivate the learners to work hard and will also give them assurance for a smooth continuation. The need to establish Boarding facilities for specific groups of COBET learners
The cost implications attached to the decision to have boarding facilities are obvious. However, it has been noted in this report that COBET has been struggling unsuccessfully to achieve its mission of equitably providing complementary education to some specific groups like children with disability, girls, children from nomadic and pastoralist communities as well as hard to those from remote and hard to reach communities where there are no schools. These together with other children like orphans form the largest part of the disadvantaged and most vulnerable children. Given the specific problems and life challenges they experience, they can better benefit from such education intervention like COBET if they are provided with boarding facilities coupled with care and support services. The Need for Curriculum Review
The COBET curriculum is relevant and all learners and even teachers were quite satisfied and happy about it. In some cases it was used to teach even in primary schools. However, there was also a major concern that actually the concept of basic education in Tanzania is now expanding to include secondary education. This means that learners have also to be prepared for secondary education. Unfortunately, when the COBET curriculum was designed, it did not have that intention. Accordingly, primary education syllabus has been reviewed and Social Studies Subject now has been separated into History, Geography and Civics. There is an additional subject on ICT. The COBET curriculum still has Science, History, Geography and Civics combined in one subject- General Knowledge. ICT is not within the existing curriculum. Therefore, teachers are sometimes confused as to what curricular materials to follow since COBET learners are also looking forward to continue with secondary education and have to be prepared for that purpose. Moreover, it is more than ten years now since the programme was conceived and designed. Certainly, many things have changed in society deserving attention and capturing within the COBET curriculum. There is need therefore for curriculum review to update the materials and make them more responsive to the current realities. The need for advocacy and social mobilization
One of the major contributing factors towards successful implementation of COBET during the pilot phase was the support and commitment from the community members. It has also been underscored in this study that when the programme was scaled to involve the whole country, implementation did not go smoothly as before. This was mainly because in some parts the parents and the community at large were not informed and mobilized enough to understand what COBET was all about as well as its added value to children who missed the opportunity to go to school or had gone and dropped before completion of the primary education cycle. If COBET is to be used as a strategic intervention to ensure provision of Education For All, there is need for the District Councils to involve and work closely with the local communities from the initial stages so that they are made aware of the importance of COBET and the role they are expected to play during the programme implementation. This will also assist to instill within the communities themselves a sense of ownership and commitment to contribute to the proposed COBET Fund which is prerequisite factors for sustainability. The need for a shared commitment in provision of resources
The COBET programme has helped a lot, not only in the provision of educational opportunities but also in shaping the behaviour of some of the youths. They are now good and dependable persons. These would have been a problem to their families, the government and the communities at large. The programme needs to be seen in that light and be given priority through allocation of funds. Throughout the study, there were some complaints that COBET programme was not facilitated well as it used to be when it started as a pilot project. Cost sharing, whereby learners bring materials like foodstuff, pens/pencils and exercise is acceptable. However, this can only be done to a certain extent. Besides, there are some learners who come from poor families and cannot afford cost sharing. They dropped out-of-school because of their inability to pay for school expenses. There is a need for the government to continue supporting COBET programme with resources so that the learners can fully realize the benefits of participating in the programme. Since some of them are already young adults they could also be mobilized and guided to form small income-generating groups. Thereafter, they could be assisted on how to access soft loans from banks. The need to allocate adequate funds for payment of teachers
The general picture obtained from the study is that actually one of the major factors that contributed to lowering down the momentum for keeping the COBET programme alive is lack of funds to pay for the honorarium. In spite of their inadequate training and experience, many of the para-professional teachers played a very important role of facilitating COBET classes. They were able to catch up very quickly and adopt the participatory methodologies of teaching which made the programme child-friendly. However, ever since 2007, the payment which is inadequate has not even regularly paid. If COBET is to continue, there is need to review the type and mode of payment from honoraria to salaries. To start with they may be paid minimum basic salaries like any other government employees while effort to provide them with long-term training is underway. The Need for Continuing Teachers’ professional development
We noted that currently most of the teachers who were teaching in COBET were recruited from primary schools and were professionally trained to teach children in primary schools. However, the group of children they were handling was quite different from those in normal primary school classes. Some of the children have gone through rough experiences and had previously been engaged in improper and delinquent behaviours. Besides, the learners were of mixed abilities and levels of education with a wide age range in one class. Some have family responsibilities while others are still dependent on their relatives and parents. Therefore, the teachers need extra skills not only in multi-grade teaching but also in counseling and psychology to handle and relate to such learners, as well as some aspects of adult learning.

Currently, no teacher training offers formal training for such teachers. The teachers as observed in this study were given initial orientation and training of two to three weeks. This has proved insufficient to provide the support needed by the learners. Besides, effective teaching skills are not developed overnight. They are refined with time. Therefore, an ongoing professional development programme for teachers even after initial training is also crucial for enhancing the quality of job performance.

There are several ways of doing this. Given the current situation in terms of resources and amount of work to be done, on-the-job training combined with annual seminars, workshops and meetings ranging from a few hours to several weeks may be more feasible and actually this is what has been taking place. These provide an opportunity for staff to merge theory and practice since they get the opportunity to share their work experiences and learn from those experiences.

Another way could be to organize a six months comprehensive residential course at a teachers college especially for para-professionals. Thereafter, teacher resource centres could continue to be utilized for weekend seminars, where subject teachers could meet to share experiences and gain new knowledge, particularly on methods of teaching. This could be a cost-effective way of organizing continuous professional development programmes. Devising quality assurance mechanism
While it is true that the quality of the COBET programme depends on the quality of the teachers and the availability of teaching and learning materials, there is also a need for the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training through the Inspectorate Department to devise a quality assurance mechanism to ensure that teachers are doing their job properly and high standards are set and maintained. This could be done through monitoring and evaluation (inspection). A monitoring system ensures the quality of delivery, and the performance of teachers, as well as ensuring whether or not learners are receiving sufficient attention, guidance and support. Teachers must be aware that their work is being monitored, although it is not possible to monitor every aspect of their work. However, it is important to note that monitoring of teachers’ work should go hand in hand with the provision of incentives and rewards system which enhance motivation of individual teachers; the absence of which leads to low morale, dissatisfaction with the job and therefore poor performance at work. It has been evident in this study that the Ward Education Coordinators have been industriously performing this job. They need recognition and support from the district councils and even from the central government to facilitate their work to keep their work motivation up.

Related to this recommendation are the assessment tools for monitoring the performance of learners in COBET classes. This study has noted that, currently, there is no uniformity and formalized way of assessing learners so as to qualify or disqualify them for being mainstreamed into the normal classes or the next stage. Tests and examinations are internally set, administered, marked and graded by the teachers themselves. Quality assurance goes with quality control, hence the need to devise formalized and systematic assessment tools for the alternative learning programme. The National Examination Council of Tanzania should assume a leading role in coordinating this exercise.
4.7.4 Profile of facilitators/teachers: recruitment and training

Evaluation of the current status of COBET programme and particularly its viability and future utility as a strategic intervention for the provision of alternative education can not be complete without a close examination of the profile of teachers/facilitators: where they come and how they are prepared and nurtured in their work. According to information obtained from the Direcotorate of Adult Education, Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, COBET facilitators/teachers are not formally certified as COBET facilitators according to the standard system of teacher selection and preparation. Rather, they are of two cadres: professionally trained teachers and para-professional teachers. Professionall facilitators are qualified teachers who have undergone professional training in recognized Teachers’ Colleges and attained Grade IIA certificate. Para professional facilitators are untrained form IV secondary school leavers who voluntarily have agreed to offer service for teaching COBET learners beside their normal daily duties. Interviews conducted with the District Education Officials as well as information extracted from the questionnaires with Head teachers and ward education coordinators conformed with the policy guidelines from the Ministry level. COBET facilitators were selected from community members who showed interest in education and in out-of-school children. These were not necessarily trained /qualified teachers but individuals with a minimum of ordinary secondary education although in occasional circumstances standard seven and eight leavers were also utilised.

Table 16: Profile of Facilitators
Qualification Frequency N=78 Percentage
Form Four plus teacher training (Grade IIIA) 55 70.5
Form Four without teacher training 18 23.1
Standard Seven/Eight without teacher training 5 6.4
Total 100.0
Source: Field data from Head Teachers Questionnaire

Table 16 shows that majority of COBET teachers were trained teachers with secondary education qualification. However, this was not the trend for the past two to three years. A study conducted by the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training together with PMO RALG as a stocktaking exercise of COBET implementation in 2006 came out with a different picture. The para-professionals were more compared to the qualified teachers (9,053 as compared to 7,564). Even statistics within the sampled districts pointed to the same direction. There were more para-professionals than the professionally qualified teachers. Ideally, COBET classes attached to a primary school each is supposed to have at least two teachers (one professionally trained and another para-professional). For the current study, we had anticipated to involve 130 teachers i.e 10 in each district and two in each school. However, when we arrived in the schools we were informed that most of the para-professionals had stopped teaching because of lack of funds to pay for their honoraria. It was only in few cases like in Ngara, Mwanza (Buswelu) and Temeke where the para professional teachers were still actively teaching COBET classes. Some of these districts like Temeke and Mwanza Municipal were receiving extenal financial support from donors.

It is important to note, however, that statistically the numbers are indeed large both nationally as indicated in the Basic Education Statistics and even from the official files as obtained during field visit. The same observation can be made with COBET learners. Stastically, the numbers are really big although on the ground (in the classes) the opposite is evident.

Table 17: Total number of facilitators in some districts involved in the study
District Female Male Total
Shinyanga Minicipal 30 19 49
Kibondo 37 98 136
Siha 4 3 7
Bukoba Rural 13 19 32
Mwanza City 28 11 39
Ngara 27 41 68

Apart from their academic and primary school teaching qualifications, the study also examined whether teachers had attended any formal training or courses for non-formal education or any special education courses on how to handle out-of-school children. If COBET is to serve effectively as an alternative strategic intervention to offer a second chance to out-of-school children then it ought to have well trained teachers who can manage and handle children of this nature. Teaching young children of almost similar ages is quite different from teaching children who have been out-of-the school system for a long time; some of whom have been engaged in improper behaviour.

It became evident that none of the teachers had received formal training and were not professionally trained to teach in such a context. However, all of them indicated that they had attended a short seminar organized by the district coordinators for two to three weeks. They further pointed out that, although it was a short seminar, it had helped them to be informed about the programme and the responsibilities they were supposed to shoulder.

The training was really intensive and an eye opener on the participatory learner centred methodologies.

When asked to indicate their view about the quality of COBET facilitators the District Education Officials gave divergent views. Majority of them (12 out 0f 16) perceived COBET facilitators to be equally good same as the professionally trained teachers. Few of them (3 out of 16) felt that they needed more training especially on the content for the subjects they were teaching like Mathematics and English while only one was more concerned with the approach (methodology) of handling classes of mixed leaners. The same observations were noted with the Head teachers responses on the same question. Majority of them were satisfied with the work performed by the para-professional teachers even if they were not professionally trained as teachers. They were committed to do the job and some of them could even make good teachers in future.

What is striking is that the para-professional teachers though untrained learned quickly how to work in a radically alternative form pedagogically like COBET and were able to generate excellent learning results in their learners. In all the districts which were involved in the study students who had made it to secondary school were evident and they gave their anecdotes.
Indeed, I am thankful to COBET because I had completely despired after the death of my parents in 2003. I am also thankful to this retired teacher who decided to stay with me and enrolled me in COBET classes after all my relatives abaonnded me. They said my parents were greedy and uncooperative. So when they died no body bothered to meet for my school expenses including fees. I dropped at standard five but now I am in Form Two. I thank my COBET teachers who were very friendly and always encouraging.

It is constantly being argued that effective teaching should involve the full participation of learners in the teaching-learning process and it has to be problem solving. However, this argument is subject to discussion, because the choice of the method which the teacher decides to use will depend on several factors including flexibility of the teaching programme depending on the facilities available and personal preference of the individual teacher, according to the circumstances. The number of learners will also determine the method that can be easily and satisfactorily utilized. The teaching and learning in the COBET programme is influenced by two major factors.

The first factor was the nature and composition of the learners. As has been pointed out, the learners were very heterogeneous in terms of age, educational background and experience. But, what was more challenging as far as the teachers were concerned was the fact that they had to teach three classes in one (multi-grade teaching). The COBET curriculum was meant to last for three years (seven years in three years). This was not a big problem when the children were learning in their own group as they would at least start at almost similar stage. However, since they are integrated into the normal school classes, the teachers are confused as to which curriculum to follow. Nonetheless, most teachers showed commitment to assisting these children and were quite satisfied with their progress and co-operation.

Closely associated with this was lack of teaching and learning text-books specifically prepared for COBET classes. The COBET books are sold and can be obtained from the Tanzania Institute of Education. However, Head teachers reported lack of financial support to procure the books. Therefore, the teachers used normal primary school books. Since the children were of mixed ability, the teachers had to be innovative and, based on their long experience, they ensured that each child was attended to.

4.7.5 Funding of COBET Programme
Funding is a major component of any programme and it gives the basis through which issues of sustainability are determined. In order to judge whether COBET can be used as a strategic intervention to ensure access and provision of alternative education opportunities to all primary school aged children, an analysis of the funding modality which was used to enable smooth implementation of COBET activities was done. It was expected that this would provide invaluable lessons for the future.

Information obtained from an interview session with Senior Ministry Officials indicated that issues of COBET funding can be divided into three phases.

Phase one: It covers the period beginning 1997-2001 when the idea of COBET was conceived and implemented in the five pilot districts. An evaluation report of the pilot phase indicates that funds to implement COBET activities came mainly from CIDA and NORAD besides UNICEF New York. The major UNICEF cost components were: curriculum and material support, workshop and training, establishing of COBET centres, project support which include staff salaries and operation, and monitoring and visitations. A good amount of UNICEF support went into consultancy fees in the year 1999. The annual total costs varied from year to year as can be seen in Table 10.

Table 18: UNICEF Financial Support to COBET during pilot phase
Year Amount in USD
1 1999 474,447
2 2000 795,306
3 2001 543,871
4 2002 176,611

Subsequent analysis of the findings of the current study suggests that during the pilot phase funding was not a problem at all. The facilitators were paid their honoraria on time and were on the payroll of the then Ministry of Education and Culture through their respective district councils. They appreciated the opportunity for in-service training and learner-friendly pedagogy which COBET provided on a regular basis.

Phase Two: This period covers the period between 2003-2006 when the programme was scaled up for the whole country based on the experiences gained in the pilot councils particularly in production of teaching and learning materaials, recruitment of facilitators and grouping of learners. Expansion of COBET to all councils in the year 2003 started by training of facilitators both at council and centre class levels. Facilitators’ honoraria were allocated and disbursements made on quarterly basis. COBET text books were purchased by councils after receiving funds from the Ministry. Syllabi and different guidelines were availed to council’s centres for smooth implementation of the programme. According to the report complied by the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training in collaboration with Prime Ministers’ Office, Regional administration and Local Government (URT, 2006), the total amount of funds spent to fund COBET activities for this period of time was 926,710,040.10. The funds were spent in four major areas namely, honoraria Tshs 5,838,604,000 (63%), Teaching and learning materials Tshs 1,751,895,895,849.10. (19%), Training of facilitators Tshs 1,561,560,000 (17%) and Tshs 138,650,191.90 (1%) for monitoring and evaluation of COBET Programme at Regional, Councils and District School Inspectorate Offices. This amount of money contributed to the achievement of COBET programme for 2003-2006.

Table19: Funds spent on the COBET programme 2003-2006
Activity Amount of funding %
Honoraria 5,838,604,000.00 63
Teaching and Learning materials 1,751,895,895,849.10. 19
Training of facilitaors 1,561,560,000.00 17
Monitoring and Evaluation 138,650,191.90 1

Phase Three: This is the current period which started in 2007. The Ministry of Education and Vocational Training pulled itself out of direct support to the districts. Instead, the district councils were required to ensure that they set aside some money to meet COBET expenses which mainly included payment of facilitators’ honorarium. Table 11 shows variation in the amount set for COBET activities in some districts as obtained during the field visit.

Table 20: Funds Allocated by District Councils to facilitate COBET activities
District No of facilitators Year Amount
Shinyanga Minicipal Female male
Total 2004 3,120,000
30 19 49 2005 11,440,000
2006 8,320,000
2007 7,280,000
2008 N/A

Kibondo 37 98 136 2004
2005 20,180,000
2006 12,720,000
2007 16,500,000
2008 3,280,000

Siha 4 3 7 2004 N/A
2005 N/A
2006 N/A
2007 N/A
2008 700,000

Bukoba Rural 13 19 32 2004 N/A
2005 N/A
2006 22,000,000
2007 9,360,000
2008 N/A

Mwanza City 28 11 39 2004 185,000,000
2005 19,620,000
2006 28,160,000
2007 11,180,000
2008 6,780,0000

Ngara 27 41 68 2004 19,600,000
2005 43,600,000
2006 43,600,000
2007 36,914,970
2008 70,000,000

Bagamoyo 21 17 38 2004 6,000,000
2005 25,600,000
2006 31,100,000
2007 19,700,000
2008 N/A
Source: Field data 2009

As can be seen from Table 20 all districts continued to fund COBET activities in 2007. However, the amount of money started to decrease in 2008 and some districts did not allocate anything for the programme. Even where there is allocation, it is unlikely that it was meant for honoraria since field data from the head teachers and COBET facilitators themselves point to the other direction.

According to information obtained from the focus group discussion with head teachers in Kisarawe, central government withdrawal from direct support to COBET was more or less like gracing the death of COBET. The honorarium was no more forthcoming and it became very difficult for the facilitators to continue teaching without any regular payment. It also became difficult for the normal primary school teachers to handle both COBET learners and children in normal classes. According to one head teacher in Kisarawe, the most convenient way (although not the best one) was to integrate COBET learners into normal classes and teach them together. It was later on learned that this was a common practice in almost all districts. Kisarawe District was one of the pilot districts. The Ward Education Coordinators who participated in the study through focus group discussion, however, were unhappy with the current situation and one of them had this to say:

This is not the same COBET of those days. We used to see UNICEF and other Ministry officials constantly visiting us and talking to the learners. The books were available and so applied to other learning facilities like exercise books, pens and pencils. However, things have completely changed. There are no more frequent visits and COBET learners are no longer a priority. Actually they are like intruders in the normal classes.

One notable fact was that there was a lot of anxiety for the future of COB ET due to time, which has been too short. Some district councils and communities had just comprehended the project ideas and begun to mobilise themselves. Soon after three years they learnt that no more financial support was going to be provided from the central government. Generally, the four years seemed too short time for an important initiative like this. The whole of first year was used for logistical issues, mobilisation and sensitization. Actual project activities begin to take off during the second and third years. Perhaps more time would have been required to enable it really hold the ground.

4.7.6 COBET as a strategy to ensure a fair chance for girls

Evaluation of the current status of the programme would be incomplete without a close examination on the extent to which COBET has managed to ensure a fair chance for out-of-school girls. This is understandable given the fact that one of the main objectives of initiating COBET programme was to contribute to the provision of complementary basic education opportunities to out-of-school children, especially girls.

To assess achievement of this objective, one of the questions asked to the facilitators and headteachers was the ratio of boys to girls in COBET classes and whether or not there has been any gender bias in enrolment and the reasons why. It was revealed that in all districts there was no gender bias in enrolment, although there has been emphasis and effort to attract more female learners than their male counterparts. This has been so for obvious reasons. Girls face many barriers in their attempts to gain education and are more vulnerable than boys when it comes to dropping out of school. Factors such as early and unexpected pregnancies have affected girls directly. Experience also indicates that even in situations where there are inadequate resources and a family has to choose which if any, of their children will be supported to attend school, the girl child is excluded for a variety of reasons that relate more to hidden costs, such as the loss of assistance to parents in the home and on the land.

In a recent study by a team of researchers from the School of Education of the University of Dar es salaam (Mbise et.al. 2009) on care and support to the education of most vulnerable children in primary schools in Tanzania, it was noted that in places that have been severely affected by HIVand AIDS like Makete, girls are forced to assume the role of guardians for their young brothers and sisters where both parents are dead. The study also found that essential services for care and support for girls to make the school a comfortable and friendly learning environment were far underdeveloped. It was observed, for example, that the issue of adequacy of toilet holes associated with availability of water and sanitation facilities stood out to be a critical factor, which affected girls more than boys and had adverse implications on girls’ participation in learning. Although, 80% of the school visited (52 out of 64) had separate toilets for girls and boys, those meant or girls had neither waste bins nor sanitary facilities for use especially during their menstrual periods. At some schools, the toilets had no shutters and therefore there was no privacy at all. This contributed to girls’ absenteeism and drop-out from school.

Responding to a question on the ratio of learners in COBET classes, 60 out of 63 head teachers indicated that boys outnumbered girls. It was only in Temeke District where the number of girls’ enrolment was larger than boys. This was not surprising since the same situation was observed when COBET was being piloted in the five districts. Girls’ enrolment was higher than boys in only Musoma, Ngara and some few centres in Songea Rural. As indicated in Chapter Two of this report, the Ministry of Education and Culture (by then) in collaboration with Kuleana Centre for Children’s Rights and UNICEF commissioned in 2001 a study to find out why there was low enrolment of girls than boys in COBET centres. Some of the reasons which were revealed by that study are similar to what the current study has illuminated. These include early pregnancy and marriage, and poverty, which sometimes leads to girls being hired as domestic workers as can be reflected in the three interview extracts with three COBET female learners who have dropped out of the programme.
PENDO ( MAKETE): I could not go to school because I had to assist my grandmother in taking care of my two young brothers and sister. My parents died while I was still very young. My Daddy was from Arusha while my mother was from this village. When COBET was introduced, a teacher came and advised my grandmother to allow me to join the programme since there were no cost implications and the time to spend in school was very short. I was very happy because I had lost hope of going to school anymore. However, I realized that I can not combine the two: going to school and working. My grandmother is really old. So I had to withdraw myself so that my young brothers and sister could get the chance to learn while I work hard to assist my grandmother to raise them.

JALIA (SHINYANGA): I am twelve years old. I was born in Dar es Salaam – Mbezi Beach area. When I was very young, my father died, and I remained under the care of my mother and my sister. My mother was very poor and my sister who was financially supporting us died in 2006. I could therefore not go to school until when I heard there was COBET and a neighbour took me to this COBET centre. I began to attend classes while at the same time working as a domestic servant for one family in Area A. But I was subjected to so much humiliation that I later decided to terminate the work and schooling as I had no other source which could enable me get money for a livelihood and for meeting school expenses.

JANE (MAKETE): I have always liked going to school. But my grandmother refused me to go to school because she had no money to pay for my school fees and uniforms. I remember her words: Who will buy you the uniforms and pay for your fees? When COBET was introduced in 2003 I joined because it was free. By that time I was 16 years old. I attended classes for two years. Unfortunately, I got pregnant on the way by a businessman from Mbeya. When I told him about the pregnancy he stopped coming to this place. Now I have a baby, I can’t go back to school anymore. Who will take care of this baby?

As part of the assessment, this study was also interested in knowing from the head teachers and coordinators the efforts which have been made to attract more female learners in COBET classes. All respondents were of the opinion that gender sensitization as well as social mobilization was important to attract female learners in COBET classes. However, the issue of poverty and orphanage kept on coming out as critical issues that need thoughtful consideration before girls are mobilized to join COBET classes. For girls who have to take care of their siblings and in those families where girls are willingly given out to go and work as domestic servants to generate some income, lack of educational opportunity is a secondary concern.

Lessons Learned (Optional):

Lessons Learned
• ACCESS Model disapproved the traditional thinking of what makes a teacher or where a child can best learn. The model demonstrated clearly that learning can take place even in simple environments provided there is good collaboration and a shared commitment between parents and teachers and government support to make it happen

• Accordingly, the ACCESS model has shown that with proper guidance and regular training workshops, Para-professional teachers can be a great help especially in lower grades and where formally professionally trained teachers are not readily available.

• Through this project Action Aid Tanzania has vividly demonstrated that communities have huge capacities to work to improve the state of education in their areas when they are fully motivated and their energies well taped.

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