Speak English: Assessing Tanzanian Rural Opinions of Success on National Exams and Language Comprehension
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This study uses a mixed methods approach to assess the perception of rural students and teachers in order to explain the link between exam success rates and the English only policy. Data was first collected from the NECTA (National Examination Council of Tanzania) website to determine which secondary schools are not performing well on their exams. I used opinion surveys to gather data from rural secondary school students and teachers, matching similar approaches used by scholars who work on the impact on urban schools of government education policy. This research was collected from 4 rural secondary schools, 322 students, and 22 teachers in the Southern Highlands in September 2018. Most intriguingly, responses by subjects related to rural institutions of secondary education, located in the Southern Highlands, demonstrate little to no difference in their opinions about their own level of English language proficiency compared with their urban counterparts, notwithstanding the dramatic degree to which rural students are unsuccessful in their attempt to pass the national exams. This study claims that the apparent cognitive dissonance between subjects’ evaluation of their own abilities and the examination passage rates that call that into question are essential components for deepening our understanding of the difficulties rural Tanzanians face as a result of the government policy.