Secondary education was given priority immediately after independence because most civil servants only needed a high school diploma to hold office, and the ruling party, then known as TANU (Tanganyika African National Union), was eager to Africanize the Civil Service and replace British expatriate workers. Swahili is compulsory, and students must receive a passing score in this subject to earn a form four certificate. Secondary schooling has two levels known as Ordinary or "O" level, which extends from form one through form four, and culminates with an examination leading to the National School Certificate award and Advanced or "A" level. The advanced level courses are similar to U.S. junior college courses; however, most students planning to attend university must complete this level and take an examination leading to the National Higher School Certificate before applying for entrance into a university in Tanzania. Students take frequent tests to encourage good study habits. Students are also graded on their attitudes, patriotism, demonstrated dedication to social causes, and overall behavior. This assessment counts for one-third of a pupil's grade. Four subjects are stressed in agriculture, commerce, technical skills, and home economics. They are offered to help achieve the goal of self-reliance. Each student takes one of these subjects. In forms five and six, students are required to study languages, arts and sciences, mathematics, commercial subjects, technology, and military science.
Several decades ago, each region of Tanzania had one or more secondary school, usually in an urban area. These were boarding schools in most cases, since students' homes were far from the schools. Quality varied from region to region. Students wore uniforms to minimize class distinctions. Pupils from all ethnic groups had a reasonable chance of advancing to university due to the ethnic quota system. As the primary school base enlarged dramatically and secondary school enrollment stagnated, the number of grammar school graduates who went on to high school dropped from 30 percent in 1970 to a mere 4 percent by 1980. Since 1980, excess demand has forced the government to allow private schools to help meet the great demand for secondary education in Tanzania. Little difference has been noted in the quality of education in Tanzania's private and public schools, even though many believe that low-income students have less access to private schools. After 1980, with private sector involvement, secondary schools have expanded faster than primary schools.
Secondary education has grown more slowly than primary education in Tanzania because the government limited output to graduates it could absorb through employment. Planned growth called for an increase of 30 percent enrollment every 5 years. The growth of private secondary schools has meant that this target has been exceeded. High school graduation is a privilege extended to a few who are expected to bear the responsibility for running the community.
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