For EdPowerment’s Form 4 students – and all Tanzanian Form 4 students – today and the next two weeks will largely determine their future educational and career possibilities. Today begins Form 4 National Exams, tests that culminate Secondary “O Level” School and provide the basis for placement in any further higher learning programs.
|EdPowerment’s Notre Dame graduates
|EdPowerment’s Mrike Secondary School graduates
Interestingly, this is also the week that many U.S. students submit their applications for early action and early admission to colleges. Consider, if you will, the differences between the Tanzanian and American experience. In America, the college application process has become an increasingly demanding and nerve-wracking one. School records, extra-curricular activities, leadership potential, essays, recommendations and of course, standardized tests, all weigh into the eventual college acceptance or rejection. While this college chase has become more onerous in an increasingly competitive environment, I don’t think anyone would trade it for the reality that confronts the Tanzanian Form 4 student.
In Tanzania, there is no application to individual colleges.
There is only one series of tests on a combination of subjects.
Make or break.
All or nothing.
One and done. One shot. Next s
pring, students will go online (for our students this means a trip to the local internet cafe) where they will learn their score…. and a month or so later, they will learn to which school they are posted – if they passed the test with a satisfactory score. This past year, over 60% of Tanzanian Form 4 students failed the test, leading to a “re-grading” several weeks later.
So today, we send our best wishes, our prayers, “light and love” to all those who have struggled to learn in an educational system fraught with obstacles.
May they be able to summon their knowledge and skills and maintain their composure in order to produce scores that will allow them to continue on a path to independent lives of fulfillment and dignity.