The current failure rate and lack of interest among students in science and mathematics subjects in ordinary secondary schools in Tanzania is a serious problem and needs to be addressed. For instance, the failure rate in physics was 73.7% in 2008, 80.8% in 2010 and increased to 81.3% in 2011 while the failure rate in chemistry was 67.1% in 2008, 70.9% in 2010 and increased to 84.3% in 2011(MoEVT, 2012). Similarly, the failure rate in mathematics was 90.8% in 2008, 93.4% in 2010 and increased to 94.2% in 2011.
In addition, the majority of students prefer arts subjects to science and mathematics subjects. For instance, 74% of students dropped physics, 54% of students dropped biology, and 60% of students dropped chemistry in 2010 (Mabula, 2012). The failures and dropouts from these subjects has been due to a number of challnges facing students as they learn these subjects. These challenges include inadequent text books, lack of enough laboratories and equipment for practicals, and acute shortage of teachers. As a result, students perceive science and mathematics subjects as being not attractive, very difficult, tedious, incomprehensible and boring.
This poor performance and increasing number of dropouts in the science subjects is a serious problem to the country’s socioeconomic development due to the fact that the country will continue to have a shortage of scientists, doctors, engineers, and other professionals in almost every sector of the economy. These professionals are vital in accelerating the country’s socioeconomic development and reduce extreme poverty especially in developing countries like Tanzania.
In order to address these challenges, the College of Information and Communication Technologies (CoICT) in partnership with Viettel Tanzania Ltd (Halotel) are implementing Halostudy project to enhance teaching and learning of science and mathematics subjects in secondary schools through multimedia enhanced content. This project is a continuation of the retooling project which was funded by World Bank and implemented by CoICT in collaboration with MoEVT. The retooling project developed content for only perceived difficult topics in secondary schools. The Halostudy project has incorporated content for all topics of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Mathematics subjects from Form I to Form IV.
The content has been enhanced with various multimedia elements such as audio, video, animations and simulations in order to facilitate self-learning as well as meeting different students’ learning styles.
In order to disseminate the content and ensuring that many students benefit from it, the College has entered into agreement with Halotel to use its network to facilitate dissemination of the content to learners in secondary schools in Tanzania. Currently, Halotel has connected 427 secondary schools with Internet and intends to connect more schools which will potentially benefit from the developed content.
Students and other stakeholder can access the developed content for free given they hace access to the Internet via computers or mobile devices. The content is accessible via www.halostudy.ac.tz or www.shule.ac.tz and users are required to create account to be able to access the content. The content is also accessible via mobile devices through downloading Halostudy app from Google Play Store.
Expected benefit of the project
- Students will use the multimedia enhanced content to improve their content knowledge especially in concepts, theories, and ideas that have been difficult to understand using text alone. The ultimate goal is to increase pass rate of science and mathematics subjects in secondary schools in Tanzania as well as attracting many students to opt these subjects.
- Teachers will also use the content to complement face-to-face classroom teaching in secondary schools in Tanzania especially the use of animations, simulations and experiments to make teaching easier. By doing so, they will improve their teaching.
- The platform will provide a platform for eLearning researchers at UDSM to conduct research and publish related articles on impact of ICT in education. So, far the college has 5 masters and 2 doctoral students conducting research in eLearning for secondary education.
- CoICT will generate revenue from HALOTEL’s bundle as users will be using COICT’s content. COICT shall be entitled to 25% portion from the monthly profits after the deduction of all applicable taxes.