EDUCATION

by Ben Taylor

Anti-fraud drive in higher education reaches back in time
The government’s efforts to put a stop to corruption and fake certificates in the higher education sector has moved in a new direction, after the government started asking all civil servants to provide proof of their identity and qualifications. The exercise seeks to identify those who gained entry into higher education without meeting the full requirements, or those who used a certificate belonging to someone else, so they can be stripped of their qualifications and potentially also their jobs.

“We won’t spare anyone…we will go through all the names from freshers to finalists currently in universities, and graduates. Entry qualifications are very clear so there will be no room for manoeuvring,” said Minister of Education, Prof Joyce Ndalichako.

The National Examination Council (NECTA) issued a statement issued asking Tanzanians with information about people who were using other people’s academic credentials to send details to the council.

It is reported that forgery is a widespread problem especially among civil servants. Such documents are used for admissions in schools, colleges and universities as well as for securing employment. (The Guardian, Daily News)

Beating recorded on smartphone prompts national debate on corporal punishment
A video of several trainee-teachers violently punishing a secondary school pupil in Mbeya has ignited a new debate on the use of such punishments in Tanzanian schools. The video, shot on the mobile phone of another teacher, shows some male teachers throwing the boy to the floor and beating him with sticks or with their fists while others held him down. A female voice can be heard pleading for the teachers to stop. The video was posted on social media, where it circulated widely.

Reports suggest the “punishment” stemmed from unfinished homework that had been issued by one of the trainee teachers.

The footage drew outrage online, with many demanding that the government take action against the culprits. In response, the Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Mwigulu Nchemba and the Mbeya Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr Amos Makalla, issued separate statements condemning the act and directing the police to arrest the culprits.

Mr Makalla later reported that the police in Mbeya Region were holding several teachers, including the school’s headmaster, for interrogation, and getting a statement from the student. “I want to assure the public that the police will find the trainee teachers involved in the matter so that they face the full wrath of the law,” he said.

The Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu, condemned the corporal punishment, explaining that her ministry did not condone such violent acts against defenceless children.

“We are not saying that children shouldn’t be punished. But what those teachers did amounted to an act of violence against a child and not punishment as such,” she said. “There are regulations on caning students and on particular parts of the body,” she explained, adding that she could not herself bear to watch the entire clip because of the cruelty involved.

A later government statement said the head teacher had been suspended for “not taking action even after being aware of the incident”. (BBC, Daily News, The Guardian, YouTube)

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