A Message to the Ministry of Education, Tanzania Must Adopt Formative Assessment

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The nation is lacking competent students who have knowledge enough to face the society challenges once they finish their studies. The ministry of education is at a good chance to make sure that a best type of assessment is implemented in a country. That why i choose them as my audience. The challenge of adopting the modern assessment is that, allowing formative assessment, is removing the summative assessment. This is not a simple work to a traditional socienty like Tanzania. For example, the necta report of History for CSEE 2014, the title of the report influence performance of students in term of grades and marks. This is worse as student are searching for high marks instead of increasing their knowledge, the nation is creating job seekers and not job makers.
Summative assessments have changed the meaning of education itself. To it, education is like a challenge, those who win got prize interm of certificate and those who fail, the society saw them as nothing, evils and cowards. For instance in http://maktaba.tetea.org/ the first region and the last region are mentioned due to their performance interm of marks, “CSEE 2016 pass rate. The first got 88% - Iringa. And the last Lindi region got 52%.” It is not true that those who got 88% were intelligent enough than those who got 52%. This is a bad assumption which every teacher is supposed to make sure that the formative assessment is adopted in Tanzania.
Furthermore, the summative assessment measure the memorization of events and remembering capacity, inspite of dealing with the intelligent of an individual. For example, the following questions used in summative assessment are only dealing with the memorization and remembering of past events. “What were (i) the causes and (ii) effects of the Great Deppression in Africa between 1929 and 1934.” Traditionalist will think that the student is intelligence because of answering correctly the question, but in reality this is not a perfect way to measure student knowledge. We are destroying the future of our students and the future of our nation.
Also as the focus is based on ticks and cross, who is right and who is wrong? The system of writing books has changed to fullfill this demand. Those books has a lot of misconceptions, example through discussing in a group work, we founded that, even the History book written by Tanzania Institute of Education forgot to put a north direction on the map used. may be this can not be caused by the type of assessment used, but because of simplification of those books so as to help students pass their examination, some mistake are made by both book writers and publishers.
In addition to the point above, there is a large number of different website which provides assessment work. Many of them are summative; also they are characterized by misconceptions in construction of questions or tasks, and interpretation of feedbacks. Though they are summative, but to some extent they are formative. For example, ‘Shuledirect’ website, insist on collaboration of students in performing different questions. The problem is that, formative assessment has been given a low chance, and those who use it, in my opinion, they do it accidentally!
Tanzania Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, has the power to choose which type of assessment should be used in the country. Formative assessment is best, because it help teachers to understand the abilities of their students. Comparing students by what they got on a test, does not give the real abilities of the student as there are some students who cheat, also in objective tests some students pass the examination by only guessing. So if we won’t change the assessment type we will continue producing fake educated women and men.
All in all, the solution of unemployment in a country can not be solved by the current type of assessment used, but the formative assessment will solve this. A student, who is competent on what taught, will create employment, rather than those who go to school to claim things like robots.
It’s not an easy task for the ministry of education to shift from summative to formative assessment, due to some sort of problems, including economic challenges. But there is no reason to continoue with summative. Whatever it can cost the system must change.
Instead of its weakness, summative assessment has some strength. Summative assessment is very good in measuring student’s ability to remember. Also through this type of assessment, teachers escape a complex work of measuring everyday the level of their student understanding. But it will be lying to say that summative assessment is important than formative assessment.
It is still a dillema to The Ministry of Education on how it will introduce formative assessment in Tanzania. The system can be changed easily by following these two steps:
Step one is being confidence. The ministry and all people who support formative assessment should be confidence enough to face the traditionalist society and convice them to change their mind about the summative assessment. After the society understood, then, the ministry in collaboration with teachers, education managers, stakeholders and other people who support formative assessment should make sure that they solve any conflict or misunderstanding occurred during the process or demanding to change the assessment type.
Step two is implemantation of the formative assessment. The implemantation should start with students who start standard one in primary school. Others should be left out to finish with the prior mode of assessment. It is recommended to start with standard one so as to avoid confussion.

Formative assessment is not something new in Tanzania. For example, in NECTA website, this formative type of assessment was found, “to provide fair efficient and effective educational assessment.” The situation of fair efficient and effective educational assessment is what we call formative type of assessment. So its implimantation is inevitable.


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