Tanzania is among African countries, which right after independence started to take measures on education developments through policies formulation, reviews, adjustments, and improvements. These measures include curriculum design and development for schools to meet national goals on education. English as one of the subjects taught in all education levels from primary school to tertiary level, its curriculum and teaching has being gone those changes since then. In viewing and analyzing the English syllabus used in Tanzanian schools particularly in ordinary level now, we should see the changes of last syllabus, which led to the current syllabus we have today. The last syllabus was introduced in 1996 and used up to 2005 where the current syllabus was introduced in use from January. The syllabus was improved to meet the needs, challenges and shortcomings of the former one. Students were given more activities; the syllabus focuses on student competencies rather than the former one, which focus more on contents. The syllabus was challenged that it did not bring competences that is why the standard of English has declined dramatically over the years, and the main cause of this decline is the insufficient teaching of English in schools following the English language syllabus. This was seen by Allen K. (2008) in ‘What happened to our good English? And wrote:
‘Syllabus and textbooks have caused this… Secondary school students only fare marginally better, and yet secondary and tertiary education is all in English. They may be able to engage in simple dialogue but normally only after they have asked for the question/sentence to be repeated at least once. Again, fluent, complicated structures are mostly not understood at all. Written English is a greater problem. How many secondary school students write the almost nonsensical ‘How are you? On my side, I’m fine and going on well with my daily activities’. Recently talking to university graduates who were embarking on post-graduate studies their lack of confidence in the language was striking. To make conversation I needed to adopt very simple structures at a very slow, unnatural speed’.
This was also earlier seen by Cripe C & Dodd W. (1984) that suggested the authorities to work on a completely new syllabus for English language teaching in schools. Such a syllabus could take into account that many more pupils progress to secondary school from primary school without facing English language good foundation.
In that view, this paper analyze the contemporary syllabus, by using some of the criteria including appropriateness, feasibility, utility, adequacy, content, method, scope and consistency between grades. Others are internal consistency, clarity, and up-to-datedness. These criteria will be on its structure, objectives, strengths and weaknesses that avail. It is important to do so in order to improve the standard of English in Tanzania as proficiency in the language. This is because teachers as main guides for instruction in their classrooms use national English syllabuses and in examinations. The syllabus was designed and prepared by Tanzania Institute of Education under the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training.
Before the analysis, the definition of syllabus is given as the summary of the course; usually contain specific information about the course. (www.counselingcenter.uiuc.ed). Collins Essential English Dictionary defined syllabus as an outline or summary of the main points of a text or a course study. Syllabus analysis is the evaluation of the quantity of the syllabus (www.counselingcenter.uiuc.ed). So the purpose is to evaluate the quality of it developed by the institution.
The major areas analyzed in this ordinary level English syllabus are top cover, back cover, inside the top cover, part one and part two of it. The top cover present the title starting with United Republic of Tanzania on top then Ministry of Education and Culture now changed to Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, followed by English Language Syllabus for Secondary Schools, Form I – IV, 2005. Inside the cover on page (ii) copyright of the ministry is uttered followed by designed and prepared authority and address i.e. Tanzania Institute of Education. The next page (iii) is the table of contents.
The syllabus generally is divided into two main parts where the first is introduction, objectives of education in Tanzania, objectives of secondary education, general competence for Form I – IV, general objectives and organization of the syllabus. The second part consists of competences and objectives of the class followed by a table matrix layout, which shows topics, sub-topics, specific objectives, patterns/structures, contexts/situations, vocabulary/phrases, teaching/learning strategies, teaching/learning materials, assessments and number of periods with instructional time.
Introduction of the syllabus is well presented shortly expressing that the syllabus replaces the 1996 English Language edition, which has been phased out. It has been introduced for implementation from January 2005. The introduction could have been more attractive if it explained more the major reasons, which led to the phase out or change of the former one. Several inquiry skills and some inquiry levels are very briefly outlined in the introduction; it could be outlined to polish the part.
The objectives of education in Tanzania are clearly stated, meaningful and relevant to Tanzanian context as well as worldwide. They touch all disciplines of skills needed to the human being in the world. This is written the same in all syllabuses for subjects Language of desire in that level nationally. The objectives are challengeable with the availability of resources in education both physical and human infrastructure in totality to cater the needs. In the report presented in the Conference of Commonwealth Ministers in Halifax, Canada 2000; by the minister of Education and Culture at the time says that; despite the government and the private sector efforts to provide secondary education in the country, the sub-sector had shortage of the science teachers especially in the rural areas, shortage of laboratories, shortage of equipments and other basic educational materials… It means that the objectives are clearly stated but not easy to achieve successfully.
The following section analyses the feasibility of the objectives of secondary education in Tanzania. The part started by defining the secondary education as a post primary formal education offers to learners who successfully completed seven years of primary education and have met the requisite entry qualification requirements. The objectives are stated to make the syllabus implement-able and feasible. However, it carries elements of behaviorists’ approaches that emphasize the use of reinforcement and repetition. The challenge is how to fulfill the packages needed to meet those objectives. Obanya P. (2006) had seen it and pointed out that Africa is still trailing behind other regions of the world in its effort towards attaining the EFA (Education for All) goals. So to Tanzania among African countries. Further he said the successes and sustainability of the new vision of secondary school in African governments show an appropriate level of political will…stepping up the process of reform, mobilizing the required resources, ensuring a participatory process etc.
General competences for Form I – IV in part two are relevant and if they are to be, achieved changes are to be seen. Competences were added to this syllabus to meet the objectives of teaching English in secondary schools by focusing on the learner-centered education (LCE) rather than teacher centered education (TCE) which proved insufficient masterly of language formerly. Allen K; (ibid) supported the transformation and said that things could have improved in the early 2000s with the opening up of the school textbook market to private publishers and the permitted multi-textbooks. However, the standards in teaching English had already declined by then, and many teachers were not equipped to be able to choose the best books for their purposes. Teachers have mostly taken the multi-textbook system to mean that they choose one book from a selection of many, and so they still effectively only use one textbook. In really sense, general competences collaborate with national objectives.
The syllabus has utility and efficacy that is why general objectives are outlined to enable the student acquires knowledge and skills to practice and use the language in specific settings and remarkable performances. They include speaking and writing skills, reading skills, communication and demonstration skills. These are form of skills which Burt C. et al (1933) categorized them as skills, concepts, relationships and strategies. They said that these four categories should not be thought of a hierarchically linked in the learning process, they are to large extent interactive. If a student acquire the outlined objectives thoroughly she/he would be competent to use English language in the world of information and communication technologies. It is clearly seen that these objectives were derived from the national objectives because they comply with them.
Class level competences are the statements, which specify the abilities that are expected to be attained by students before the class objectives found at the beginning of the content of each class level. Objectives are statements of behavior that are stated immediately after class competences to be exhibited by each student at the end of given class. These are achievable in a class of a recommended number of students not exceeding thirty five in class at a time and with the competence of a teacher. However, in Tanzanian crowded classes environment of more than sixty students is very difficult to achieve such objectives. Sumra S. (2000) pointed out that the education policy needs to clarify in focusing on ‘inputs’ or ‘outputs’ and the meaning of – what is expected of all teachers and how this will be monitored and measured. Pre and in-service needs to be focused on teacher competence. The effectiveness of human and physical infrastructures should be assured and realized in our schools so that the objectives are achieved