The performance of advanced level schools for academically talented female students in Tanzania: An evaluative analysis
Njau, Anna John Malasi
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This study is an evaluative analysis of the performance of Advanced Level (A-level) female students in schools for the academically talented in Tanzania. The pass rates of female students at Advanced Level in such schools are consistently lower than those of males, particularly in mathematics and science. The available literature on special schools in Tanzania is very limited. There are a number of related resources available concerning, for example, performance indicators for primary and secondary schools. This study would add to the sparse literature concerning factors which influence the performance of both female and male Tanzanian students who are academically talented. The study gives attention to feminist perspectives within an educational evaluation framework. This is because evaluation is a process of determining to what extent particular educational objectives are actually being realised. It is based on student performance, curricula and instructional materials, school personnel, educational programmes and projects, education institutions and organisations. The main argument of the thesis largely draws on a liberal, socialist feminism and empowerment approach to education and seeks to explain and change historical systems of sexual differences according to which females and males are socially constituted and positioned in relations of hierarchy and antagonism (Haraway, 1989). Data was collected through questionnaires, interviews, and by observation. Both quantitative and qualitative thematic content was used to analyse data. The respondents in this study involved four special schools (two for female and two for male students) with ten participants from each school. The data obtained from male students was used for comparative purposes. The sample also involved four heads of schools, two teachers from each school, two zonal inspectors (Eastern and Central zone) and the director of secondary schools. The study reveals that male students' performance in special schools is better than their female counterparts. The reason for this is inadequate provision of teaching and learning materials such as textbooks and an uneven distribution of teachers in schools for female which leads to a high teaching workload. In addition, there is a shortage of female graduate teachers who can act as female role models. Other factors include social cultural aspects and differential gender expectations for males and females in a society. All of these issues disadvantage females in relation to male students. This study r~commends that the government through the responsible Ministry should: increase the resources to these schools so as to create conducive learning environment for students and teachers; ensure even distribution of graduate teachers; encouraging more females to enroll in science and mathematics subjects; in order to be role models for younger students and recruit more· female graduates teachers specialised in science and mathematics. Future research should involve all special schools as well as other ordinary schools both private and public with a large sample.