DPSA’s procurement of thousands of books and USBs will assist children in acquiring the language skills they need to thrive at school
Moving from primary school to secondary school is a daunting prospect for any child. Yet imagine how hard it must be if the new school teaches in a different language to the previous one. This is the challenge facing children in Tanzania; primary school lessons are taught in Kiswahili, while secondary ones are in English. Not surprisingly, students may struggle to communicate with their secondary school teachers and to get to grips with the new curriculum.
Closing the learning gap
The four-year Education Quality Improvement Programme for Tanzania (EQUIP-T) aims to help students overcome this knowledge gap. Funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) with UK aid from the British people, the programme is working to improve the quality of education across Tanzania, especially for girls. EQUIP-T is providing all students starting secondary school with English ‘Baseline’ orientation classes, as well as helping teachers to present lessons confidently in English.
The Baseline course materials include an illustrated Student’s Book and a Teacher’s Guide, developed by Tanzanian education experts with assistance from the British Council. These texts cover language, social science, maths and science. DFID approached DPSA to procure 550,000 copies of the Student’s Book and 32,000 copies of the Teacher’s Guide, along with 4,800 digital copies on USB sticks. The books were to be delivered to the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam.
Flexibility is vital
The first step was for DPSA to meet with the EQUIP-T team to learn about the programme goals and understand how the procurement would contribute to meeting them. During the discussions, a concern was raised that it might be difficult for many teachers – coming from each of the 3,601 schools – to travel to Dar es Salaam to collect the books. The decision was therefore taken to extend the delivery to 26 regional centres, so that the teachers could collect their quota of books from their nearest centre.
In subsequent discussions, we learned that the EQUIP-T team was keen to include updates to the texts if possible, which meant adding eight extra pages to each book. While this might seem like a minor change, when multiplied a few hundred thousand times, the paper and printing costs can soon mount up. When we had approached the market to get an initial estimate of costs, the quotes we received exceeded the budget available – and that was excluding the extended delivery locations and the additional pages. Some creative thinking was needed!
It seemed inevitable that, if we covered the cost of the extended delivery and extra pages, we would have to print fewer copies than initially envisaged. However – and understandably – the EQUIP-T team wanted to receive as many copies of the books as possible; ideally, even more than the initial request if that could be achieved. Knowing the available budget, DPSA’s procurement team searched the market widely and consulted suppliers that had undertaken similar work for DPSA in the past. Our aim was to work out the combination of quantities and delivery costs for the books that represented the best value for money for our client.
Following extensive discussions with the market, the DPSA team was able to offer the client two options: either more books than initially requested but without the extra pages; or fewer books but incorporating the extra pages of text. Both options included all 4,800 USBs and delivery of all materials to the 26 regional centres.
“We did many different calculations to work out how we could get the best deal possible that was aligned with EQUIP-T’s goal of providing English language classes to all new secondary school pupils,” explains Sibby Smith, one of DPSA’s Regional Managers. “We looked at various permutations for producing the two books and the USBs, and for the delivery costs that would be incurred by different weights and volumes of cargo. In this way we arrived at the balance of books and delivery that represented the very best value for money for the client. I believe we’re getting an excellent result for a very competitive price.”
Supporting Tanzania’s children
EQUIP-T agreed we should go ahead with the second option, a total of 520,000 Students’ Books and 31,212 Teachers’ Guides. This combination meant there would be sufficient copies of the Teacher’s Guide for all of the 3,601 schools to have several copies. All pupils, meanwhile, would have access to either a hard copy or a digital copy of a Student’s Book. Therefore, the procurement would still meet the programme goals. And, importantly, this could all be achieved without exceeding the budget.
The books were printed in September 2017 and subsequently delivered to Dar es Salaam for onward regional distribution. “I’m pleased that DPSA has been able to work on such an important procurement, with the potential to really enhance pupils’ lives,” says Sibby.