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Base de datos de evaluación

Evaluation report

TNZ 2001/020: Half Way Through the First COBET Cycle: The Progress of COBET in Masasi and Kisarawe Districts

Author: Helgesson, L.

Executive summary


COBET (Complementary Basic Education in Tanzania) was initiated by the Ministry of Education and Culture (MOEC), with support from UNICEF Tanzania, to provide basic education to children, girls in particular, who have either never had the chance to enter primary education or who have dropped out of school. COBET was introduced in Kisarawe and Masasi in 1999 and it is experiences and lessons learnt from COBET in these two districts, half way through the first three-year cycle, that are reflected in this report.

Purpose / Objective

Half way through the first three-year COBET cycle in Kisarawe and Masasi Districts, there was a felt need to document the progress of COBET in the wards and villages where there are COBET centres. The aim of this report is to provide an overview of opinions about COBET by children in and out of COBET, teachers, COBET facilitators, parents/guardians and other community members. Part of the aim is to identify strengths and challenges seen so far, information that can be useful when COBET is discussed and analysed by various stakeholders.


The views about COBET were gathered from discussions with children in COBET, primary school and out-of-school, mothers, fathers, guardians, COBET facilitators and primary school teachers, members of the COBET committee, ward and district officials. People shared their views both individually and in focus group discussions.

Key Findings and Conclusions

Half way through the first COBET cycle in Masasi and Kisarawe Districts, the progress is impressive. The children are enthusiastic and it is obvious that they really enjoy going to school. The atmosphere is relaxed; there is a friendly relationship between the learners and the teachers, and between the teachers and other community members. The teachers are competent and enthusiastic and, in a short time, most children have acquired knowledge that has taken their siblings or peers years in primary school. The learning environment could clearly be defined as child-friendly, both for girls and for boys.

There is a strong ownership of COBET in the communities and on community members' own initiatives, they have built classrooms, latrines and initiated school meals. The COBET committee closely monitors the children and the teachers, and whenever COBET centres are visited, there are supportive family members around who are proud of the progress of their children. In Mianzi village, Kisarawe District, there is no primary school. Since COBET started, the community members have become more and more concerned with education and, on their own initiative, they have prepared 2,500 bricks for a new COBET building. In Mpekeso village in Masasi District, the community has already constructed a new COBET building which they, in the future, would like to function as a primary school. Young fathers in this village said that their community feels the need for a primary school and now, the children who walk far everyday to the school in another village wish to enrol in COBET.

The child-centred methods used in COBET and the small classes have proved to be effective, and the flexible timetable allows the children time to do other chores at home, to study and to play. The para-professional teachers who are Form IV leavers have shown to be capable teachers and they often teach as well as the trained teachers. Many children and adults regard the absence of corporal punishments as positive. Despite the fact that the COBET facilitators do not use corporal punishments, they are regarded to be good teachers; the children learn well and have developed good manners.

Despite the fact that not all out-of-school children could be enrolled in COBET, the presence of COBET has, according to district officers, contributed to an increased effort to expand the enrolment in primary school. Simultaneously, the demand for basic education has increased in the villages where there are COBET centres. Therefore, although the actual coverage is small, it can have a substantial impact on primary school enrolment.

Although the COBET environment is girl-friendly and boy-friendly, the general impression is that both in Masasi and Kisarawe, boys benefit more in COBET than girls. According to learners and facilitators, boys perform better than girls, boys are more active in the classroom and they come to school more often and, if this is true, how can this be explained when the aim of COBET was to benefit and enrol girls in particular?

A few major reasons to girls' lower enrolment in COBET were found during the research:

- Boys were regarded as in greater need of education. Out-of-school boys were seen in greater need of education because they were more obviously out-of-school, visible to the community, many of them without anything to do. Girls out-of-school, on the other hand, were not seen loitering around the street in need of education because they were occupied with household chores.

- A sacrifice to send a girl to school. Girls have a more central role in the household than boys, and to send a girl to school would therefore mean a higher opportunity cost.

- Girls out-of-school approach the time for marriage. In cases where out-of-school girls were older or already had children, it is often regarded as being too late to send them to school because they approach the time for marriage or were regarded as adults.

- An administrative matter. Although community members were involved in the enrolment process, discussions with community members about the lower enrolment of girls showed that they were not aware of the policy of aiming at enrolling girls in particular. When COBET was introduced in Musoma Rural, Songea Rural and Ngara, the experience from Kisarawe and Masasi was taken into account and therefore, a greater effort was made during the selection process to enrol girls. The effort was, in this respect, successful. For example in Musoma Rural, about 70 percent of the learners in COBET are girls.

COBET has been regarded as a very cost intensive programme. However, it should be emphasised that a large share of this cost is for material and curriculum development, which is an initial investment. It should, therefore, not be included in the running cost of the COBET centres.


Make efforts to give girls an equal chance to enrol in COBET. This is in order to make the COBET environment truly friendly for both girls and boys. The reason why boys seem to benefit more from COBET than girls cannot be explained by the design of the programme.

Make efforts to mainstream the positive aspects of COBET into the formal system. The COBET material, the interactive methods, the curricula, alternative forms of punishments, the time-table and the community involvement, which are part of the COBET concept, could have a positive effect on the primary school system.

Let primary school teachers in the formal system benefit from the type of training the COBET facilitators have gone through. The training of teachers have been shown to be a very important element in COBET. The children and parents/guardians emphasise that the teachers are competent and that the children in COBET learn quickly.

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Report information





Education - Non Formal


YE973 E03

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