Six out of every 10 Tanzanian students who sat last year’s ordinary secondary level examinations attained the lowest grade possible, government results showed Monday.
Close to 54 per cent of students tested picked up Division Zero in National Form IV exams, a big rise from the 32 per cent who had failed to score in 2011.
Some were so dismal that they instead resorted to writing insults on the answer sheets after the realisation that they were completely unprepared.
Private schools dominated the charts of best performers. Of the top 20, only two public schools made it to the list, with a flustered government blaming inadequate teachers and poor infrastructure.
Some 397,126 students of the 411,230 who were registered sat the national exam. Of these, only 23,520 of these managed to score between Division One and Division Three, just under six per cent of those who were eligible.
Some 1,641 scored Division One, a drop of 0.68 per cent on the number of those who excelled the previous year.
Tanzania has a basic five-tier educational structure, with those who pass Form IV proceeding for two more years of advanced secondary education if they so elect.
The results of 789 pupils were nullified for cheating, a drop from the 3,303 who opted to use unfair means in 2011.
Some 24 students will be charged in a court of law for using insulting language in the examination.
"We cannot tolerate this habit, those who wrote abusive words should be charged as barring them from attempting the exams prepared by (national examining body) Necta is not enough," Educational and Vocational training minister Shukuru Kawamba said.
They will also not be allowed to take any examination prepared by the National Examination Council (Necta) for a year and may face the law as per examinations regulations.
The results of close to 30,000 students were withheld and will be released only when they pay their examination fees.
As in previous years, boys performed better than girls: of the students who scored Division One, only 568 were girls as opposed to 1,073 boys.
Some 16,342 boys scored between Division One and Three, compared to 7,178 girls.
There is little difference though between boys and girls who completely failed their examination: a total 120,664 boys scored Division Zero, comparable to 120,239 girls.