In a mere four years, the Kitenga Girls Secondary School has earned itself the number one spot in their region for Tanzania’s all-important Form Four National Exam. The Pioneers are Kitenga’s first-ever graduating class and each and every student knocked it out of the park! 75% of the class scored at the esteemed Division One level and the remaining 25% at the also-excellent Division Two level. Their scores popped them to top place in their region of Tanzania, the Mara Region. They also just missed by a hair placing in the top ten small schools nationally, and came in #11 (out of 986 schools!).
For anyone who knows me personally, you’ll know that I am not a huge fan of exam-driven pedagogy, but it is the mandate of the Country and hence, so important to these students and their futures. A little bit of background will be helpful in understanding the significance of these exams: there are six years of secondary education in Tanzania. The first four years are called ‘O Levels’ (for Ordinary) followed by two years of ‘A Levels’ (Advanced). Kitenga is an ‘O Level’ school. The pathway to university cuts through A level. No A level, no higher education.
The O level ‘exit exams’ are the Form Four National Exams and your grade on these exams determines whether or not you’ll have access to that university pathway! Scoring in either Division 1 or 2, not only puts you squarely on that pathway, but opens the keys to attending the best A Level schools in the country.
Hence, with each and every Kitenga student hitting top scores, every Pioneer has the opportunity to continue their pursuit of quality education and keep marching towards their dreams.
This is truly a remarkable accomplishment for Kitenga’s students and in-hand with their teachers, they have worked extremely hard to earn it.
Peres is one of the Pioneer Graduates and here she shares some of her thoughts about the exam and what it means:
We thank God for the good results and everyone who passed the national exams is happy. It feels really good to be in a school with excellent results because it is one way of introducing the school all over the country and to many people just through the results. Also, my fellow students and I, as Pioneers, feel proud to have achieved such excellent results and hopefully other classes that follow can accomplish even more than what we did. Being a girl with good results provides more chances to go on with higher education, but having poor results provides risk. The risk is the chance of getting married because one cannot go on with studies and therefore the only choice is to get married and start a family. This may also be a start of extra hardships because in Africa an uneducated girl in marriage is oppressed and undermined and has no say on anything. Therefore, since Form Four is the foundation for studies, if you mess it up then it’s really hard to redo it again (there are chances of re-sitting the exams, but for a girl many parents are not willing to spend any more money on a girl’s education as they consider it a waste).
The forms that follow after us Pioneers may be encouraged to have outstanding results as we did and probably will accomplish more than us! And thus we act as a role model to the other students because through us, they are able to see clearly that performing well is possible. They will see that it is what they want to accomplish so the four years of struggle with hard effort may pay off and not end in vain.