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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2009 Tanzania: Evaluation Report of the Primary School Leaving Examination Conduct

Executive summary


“With the aim to continuously improve transparency and use of evaluation, UNICEF Evaluation Office manages the "Global Evaluation Reports Oversight System". Within this system, an external independent company reviews and rates all evaluation reports. Please ensure that you check the quality of this evaluation report, whether it is “Outstanding”, “Good”, “Almost Satisfactory” or “Unsatisfactory” before using it. You will find the link to the quality rating below, labelled as ‘Part 2’ of the report.”


The Government of Tanzania has been implementing the Education Sector Development Programme (ESDP) since 1999. Two major programmes, Primary Education Development Programme 2001-2007 (PEDP) and Secondary Education Development Programme 2004-2009 (SEDP) were developed and are being implemented as part of the ESDP. One of the key objectives of both PEDP and SEDP is quality improvement. Under this component, both curriculum and assessment systems are viewed as pillars for improving the quality of education in Tanzania. The National Examinations Council of Tanzania (NECTA) is conducting various activities aimed at improving the quality of examination conduct, in line with PEDP and SEDP. Under the current UNICEF/NECTA agreement the purpose for conducting an evaluation of the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) is to improve its processes and procedures.

Since 1983 the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MOEVT) has given NECTA the mandate to conduct PSLE as one of the highly stake examinations. PSLE consists papers in Hisabati/Mathematics, English, Sayansi/Science, Maarifa ya Jamii/Social Studies and Kiswahili. NECTA works in collaboration with the Regional Examination Committees for the conduct of National Examinations. The committees are comprised of: the Regional Administrative Secretary (RAS), the Regional Education Officer (REO), Regional Education Officer Academic Affairs (REOA), Regional Security Officer (RSO) and Regional Police Commander (RPC). At district level this committee comprises Municipal Director or District Executive Director (DED), District Education Officer (DEO), District Education Officer Academic Affairs (DEOA), District Security Officer (DSO) and District Police Commander (OCD). The selection of the qualified candidates for secondary education as well as the evaluation of the quality of the curriculum is done by MOEVT in collaboration with the local governments.

NECTA prepares various materials for PSLE conduct, like notice to candidate, instruction manuals to supervisors, and guidelines to REOs. The purpose of these manuals is to provide guidelines in PSLE conduct as well as support them in facilitation of supervision seminars. NECTA also, prepare examination question papers and distribution them from NECTA to the Regional Education Offices. The distribution of papers is done in collaboration with Safety Security Officers. The regional authorities are charged with the role of supervising the conduct of the examination in their respective regions. REOs have duties of bringing the answer scripts to the marking centres. The marking of PSLE is done under supervision of NECTA.

Despite the fact that the government has been putting efforts in ensuring the smooth conduct of PSLE in the country, various reports have indicated the prevalence of incidents of cheating and dishonest cases. Indeed such cases have been increasing as the government and NGOs are sensitizing the community on the importance of education. This implies that thorough evaluation is done to identify areas of weakness and device mechanism for strengthening the process in administration of examinations.

This report intends to bring forth findings of evaluation study and is regarded as the first evaluation of its kind to be conducted by NECTA ever before. The evaluation process involves different education stakeholders at school, district, regional and national levels. Therefore, the major objective of this evaluation was to identify the existing challenges and suggest alternative ways of dealing with them.




This section highlights the methodology that was used to carry out the evaluation stud. Sample and sampling procedures are explained as well as the process used in developing data collection instruments. Furthermore, data collection, data analysis and presentation are described. Finally, validity and the reliability of the instruments used are briefly discussed.

The Areas

The evaluation study was conducted in 13 regions; Kilimanjaro, Mwanza, Shinyanga, Tabora, Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Morogoro, Iringa, Kigoma, Pwani, Mtwara, Mbeya and Tanga and focused in the following districts: Kasulu, Kigoma Ubarn, Kibondo, Magu, Temeke, Hai, Same, Makete, Ileje, Iringa Rural, Kilolo, Kilosa, Kondoa, Lushoto, Masasi, Mtwara Rural, Shinyanga Rural, Kishapu, Bagamoyo, Morogoro Rural, Morogoro Urban, Nzega, Tabora Urban.


This was a survey evaluation carried out between July and September 2008. It used both quantitative and qualitative methods for data collection. In the first phase, questionnaires were administered to six individual groups (i.e. primary and secondary students, REOs, DEOs, teachers and head teachers). On the other hand, in-depth interviews were conducted to RSOs, DSOs and RPCs. They were asked to bring forth experiences on examination supervision, the challenges they face and how they deal with these challenges with the view of overcoming them. In addition a total number of five students were selected to participate in the focused group and were those who also participated in filling the questionnaires.

Questionnaire construction and Fieldwork

The workshop took place in Dodoma region for five days to design the questionnaires for data collection. A total of 23 participants participated in the process these included DEOs, REOs, Chief Zone of School Inspectors, Directors of Primary School Education, NECTA officials, and Tanzania Institute of Educations (TIE) officials. The participants identified key areas for evaluation and individuals groups (i.e. primary and secondary students, teachers, head teachers, REOs and DEOs). All groups had the same questions on the area of examination cheating. They were required to give information on: 1. whether they have heard about cheating in examination, 2. the incidents of examination cheating, 3. reason for cheatings, 4. Individuals involved in the cheating process and 5. Give suggestion on how to deal with examination cheatings. The students were also required to provide information concerning their preparation to undertake PSLE. Other groups were required to provide additional information on registration procedures, and PSLE supervision. The questionnaires were piloted in Morogoro Municipal. It involved seeking and making use of comments obtained in refining instruments in terms of its relevance and consistence based on the purpose of the evaluation.

The Sample

The sample of this evaluation included standard VI and VII primary school students, Form one secondary school students, teachers, and head teachers, DEOs, REOs, DSO, RSO and RPC. From these categories, 777 students were drawn from 121 primary schools, and 420 form one students were randomly selected from 84 secondary schools in 23 districts respectively, a convenient sampling technique was used to select 649 teachers who had previously participated in national examinations supervision. Each head of primary school, REOs, DEOs, RSO, DSO and RPC in selected school, district or region involved in the evolution. Table 1 indicates distribution of respondents who participated in evaluation study. For primary school students, 465 (60%) were in standard seven and 312 (40%) were in standard six.

Table 1: Distribution of respondents

S/N Groups Male
n % Female
n % Missing
n % Total
1. Primary school teachers 261 (40.4) 323 (50.0) 62 (9.6) 649
2. Head teachers 100 (67.6) 39 (26.3) 09 (6.1) 148
3. Pr/ School Students 394 (50.7) 345 (44.4) 38 (4.9) 777
4. Sec/school students 224 (53.3) 168 (40.0) 28 (6.7) 420
5. DEOs 17 (89.5) 02 (10.5) - 19
6. REOs 07 (77.8) 02 (22.2) - 09
7. DSO - - - 19
8. RSO - - - 09
9. RPC - - - 09
Total 2059

Data collection Procedures

Every data collector was required to have a data collector’s guide which informed him/her about: the instruments to be used, his/her areas of study and number of respondents, personal preparation and communication, protocol and courtesy, the data collection procedures, and how to submit the data. NECTA, MOEVT, and TIE officials were responsible for administering the instruments to the respondents. The administration of questionnaires for primary and secondary school students took between 45 and 60 minutes, while for the teachers, head teachers, REOs, and DEOs the completion took one hour and 30 minutes. The interview schedules for RSO, RPC and DSO took between 45 and 60 minutes. The interviews were conducted in Kiswahili and the interviewers recorded the information by hand writing on the notebooks provided. Later the interviewers summarized the information for submission.

Data Analysis Procedures

A combination of quantitative and qualitative data analysis was used in this evaluation. For quantitative data, the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS version11.00) was used in performing the analysis. Data entry was performed and then, presented in frequencies and percentages. Cross tabulations of response of items were done to cross check the information between groups of responses. The information obtained was used for making evaluation on the conduct of PSLE. Also, content analysis was used to analyse information obtained from the individual interview and focus group discussion that do not need any quantification. These data were analysed by going through patterns or sub-headings.

Prior Preparation for PSLE

The primary school students, head teachers and DEOs were asked to state if there is any prior preparation for PSLE, regarding to test and local examination done at different levels, for example, at school or ward levels.
o 97% of primary school students, 95.3% of head teachers and 100 % of DEOs indicated that there are initial preparations before sitting for PSLE, while 2.1% of students said there was no prior-preparation. On the other hand 0.9% of students and 4.7% head teachers did not indicate anything. In addition, 84.7% of the students at the school level, 82.0%, at ward, 91.9% at district and 99.7% at regional level showed that prior preparations for PSLE conducted between1 to 5 times as shown in Table 2.

Table 2: Prior Preparation for PSLE

Frequency Number of respondents at
School Ward District Region
1-5 599 580 650 705
6-10 67 4 9 1
11-15 10 1 1 1
16-20 1 0 0 0
20+ 74 0 0 0
missing 26 192 117 70

The respondents were asked to give the importance prior preparation for PSLE. The evaluations show that 95.1% of the students, 95 % of the head teachers, and 84.2% of DEOs stated to be very useful. The remained percentages from the respondents showed to be moderately useful.

In elaborating their responses, the respondents pointed the following significances:
 It helps teachers to evaluate students’ learning achievements,
 It helps students to prepare for and get familiarization with National Examinations
 Develop thinking skills and confidence in answering examination questions,
 Foster memorization,
 It encourages students to work hard so as to pass their national examination,
 Students learn techniques and skills of answering examinations questions,
 It helps teachers to identify teaching and learning weaknesses and make improvements and
 Students prepare themselves, assess their strengths and weaknesses and develop self confidence.

However, 1.6% of students did not give any reason for their positive response. On the other hand, 4.9% did not see any advantage of prior preparation examinations, though; they did not give any reason for their response.

When the head teachers asked on how they do prior preparation to their candidates, they mentioned the following techniques;
• To give frequently tests/exercises to students,
• Students do inter school, ward, and Districts trial tests.
• Building self confidence among students
• Teaching pupils seriously including week ends and public holidays
• Motivating pupils who perform well

At the district level, DEOs said to employ the following techniques:
 Conduct trial tests at School, Ward, District and Regional level,
 Follow ups are made to check whether students are taught in their schools,
 Read inspection reports and make follow ups,
 Inspection of teaching and improvements of examinations at different levels,
 Reward students who perform better,
 Educate the society about the importance of education to pupils and the society,
 Organise meetings with academic teachers to discuss tests/examinations

Prior instructions for PSLE
The aim of this part was to find the nature of prior instruction given to the students before the national examination and how they connected with the sitting of PSLE. 91.2% of primary school students indicated that there were some instructions given before sitting for PSLE, and most of these instructions were provided by head teachers (head of schools). The instructions focused on the following areas:
- Performing test in collaboration with other schools (inter-school tests),
- Different strategies in answering examination’s questions,
- Reading and working with past national examinations papers,
- Building their confidence in doing national examinations
However, 5.8% of primary school students showed that there were no instructions and 3% did not attempt to indicate.

Findings and Conclusions:


Recommendations to NECTA

Respondents gave the following comments to improve the conduct of PSLE. The comments are categorized into several themes as follows:

Supervision Allowances (33.0%)
More comments have been given with respect to supervisors’ allowances. They recommended increasing the supervisors’ allowances and it should be well known to everyone. They pointed out that rates should be increased to enable the supervisors coping with rising standard living.

Improve settings of examinations (18.1%)
Respondents recommended that:
o The national examinations should based on the current curriculum,
o Setters examination questions should consider situations/circumstances of all schools,
o Set of examination that make candidates to think critically,
o Avoid repetition of question,
o Select setters who are trustworthy and ethical,
o national examinations to be prepared at regional level and zones
o Examinations to be set with international standards.

The national examinations council, safety and security in examinations administration
Recommendations made in this area are:
o Intensify security and confidentiality in setting examinations,
o National examinations staff and work with NECTA should be trustworthy and follow ethics of their work,
o Control the leakages of examination at the offices of the National Examinations Council of Tanzania,
o Examination results should not be categorized on regions competitive basis,
o Question papers should be send to examination centres during the date of examination and not left at the examinations centres,
o Police should not be used as security officers,

Improvement seminars (17.5%)
Respondents suggested the following in strengthening seminar provision to make improvements in national examinations;
o There should be frequent seminars given to all teachers and supervisors on examinations administrations,
o Seminars should be made after the completion of examination so as to identify challenges which occurred during examinations,
o Duration of seminars should be extended,
o More practical sessions on seminar provision,
o NECTA should conduct supervision seminars
o The number of supervisors attending seminars should be reconsidered so as to develop conducive environment for these seminars

Supervision (9.2%)
On Supervision, they recommended the following:
- Supervisors should be changed frequently,
- Supervisor to supervise schools out of their wards and divisions
- Transport for supervisors should be improved,
- Selection and verification of supervisors should be carefully done, that is they should be trustworthy and committed,
- Names of proposed supervisors should be sent to RSOs much earlier for vetting.
- Use of mobile phones by supervisors in examination rooms should be completely forbidden.

Others (7.3%)
- Punish those found tampering with examinations,
- Educated the society on examinations misconduct,
- Cooperate with local governments to identify supervisors and teachers who participate in cheating,
- Budget for RSOs and make them work independently,
- Make the time table that have adequate interval between one subject and the other,
- Encourage large examination centres to be guided by two armed police,
- Introduce a leader of supervisors,
- Educate students on how to identify and report cheating and dishonesty cases,
- Make a follow up on recommendations made from regions,
- Improved transport systems used in distribution and collection of examination,
- Establish a strong and strict organ to deal with dishonesty and cheating cases,
- Use DSOs offices to get clarification on cheating cases.
- Introduce a regulation which restrict host teachers from entering examination rooms,
- Improve follow ups during examination sessions
- Discourage militiamen to guard in their villages
- Use PCCCB to detect elements of corruption
- Continuous assessment should be considered in assessing the progress and selection of a candidate in PSLE

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