Calendar at a Government School
The Baraa Primary School is a government school in the Moshono area of Arusha. The legal age of entry to primary school is seven, and there are seven standards to pass. Before pupils enter Standard One, there is Pre-school or “Awali” as it is called in Kiswahili. The school year follows the regular calendar starting in January and ending in December. There is an average of 194 school days per year, with two long breaks of one month in June and December and two short midterm breaks of two weeks in April and September.
Each day a pupil receives between four and five hours of traditional lessons. Standard One and Two usually have a classroom teacher and their school day is shorter than the older pupils. From Standard Three onwards there are subject-matter teachers so that pupils are allocated to a classroom and the teachers move from classroom to classroom for the different lessons. A normal school day starts at 7.00h and finishes at 14:30h, except on Wednesday when school ends at 12:30h. After traditional school hours there are remedial classes, vocational training, IT-classes and extra curricular activities.
Teaching Languages Kiswahili and English
Tanzania has a bilingual education policy, which requires children to learn both Kiswahili and English. English is essential, as it is the language which links Tanzania to the rest of the world through technology, commerce and administration. At primary level, English is taught as a compulsory subject. However, we try to encourage the use of the English language so we organize English vocational training and every Wednesday it is English-speaking day at school.
Monthly Tests and Remedials
iThemba developed monthly tests and end of term examinations for every Standard. These tests are fully sponsored by Onsea House. Without their help we would not have paper or ink to print the tests. The teachers prepare these test in our computer laboratory with the help of an iThemba paid IT teacher and our volunteers. The results of these tests give an accurate picture of the pupil’s progress and learning. These tests are used to track the progress of the pupils and to identify those in need of extra help through the remedial programme. The end of term exams, sat in May and November, also give a picture of a pupil’s progress and each parent receives a school report. These results determine what year and what class a pupil moves to at the start of the school year.
A full remedial programme in maths and Kiswahili is provided for all struggling pupils during their early years in school. The programme is run by teacher volunteers and Baraa teachers from Standards 1 and 2. iThemba believes that all children need to be able to read, write and to have grasped basic arithmetic by the time they enter Standard 3 at ten years old. Our testing shows that around 20% of children were not reaching this level in previous years. In 2015 this number had dropped to 8%.
The remedial lessons are also an opportunity to introduce our teachers to new methods of teaching and to introduce games and learning resources into the teaching.
At the end of Standard Seven pupils sit the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). The examination acts as a selection examination for entry into secondary school. In addition they are awarded a certificate for reaching Standard Seven and completing primary school.
In 2010 the students in Standard Seven ranked 94th out of the 96 schools in the Arusha District both government and private. In 2011 the students moved up to 84th. In 2014 our efforts have been rewarded with a 30th place, making us the first ranked government school out of 105 Arusha City Schools, 65th in the region and 746th in the whole of Tanzania (www.necta.go.tz). With this 2014 result we left 23 Arusha private school behind us in the ranking.
In Standard 4, there are also national examinations to determine who is allowed to move up to Standard 5. For all other Standards, it is Baraa Primary school and its teachers who organize an end of year examination. In order to prepare our pupils for these examinations iThemba installed the monthly tests and the end of term examinations.