by Naomi Rouse
JPM spits fire on arbitrary ‘contributions’ in schools.
A strong statement was made by President Magufuli in January threatening to fire any officials who breach the free education policy, introduced in 2014. The President had received reports of students sent away for not paying contributions demanded by schools for desks, meals, and lab construction.
The President felt that this situation was inexcusable given that the government releases TSh 23.9 billion (£7.3 million) every month to fund free basic education up to Form Four. “To the ministers: I don’t want to hear about students being sent away for failing to pay these contributions.
Relay this message to regional commissioners, district commissioners, district executive directors and all other government officials. A recurrence of this will automatically mean being fired.”
Officials were ordered to ensure that any contributions paid be returned to parents and students be allowed to resume classes immediately. The President ordered that if parents did make any voluntary contributions in future, these should be submitted to the District Executive Directors rather than school heads. The Minister for Education also asked for a report on all schools asking for contributions. (IPP Media)
Tanzania introduced fee free education in 2015, but the UNESCO Global Monitoring Report has found that cost still remains a barrier in plenty of countries providing free education.
Magufuli said: “It makes no sense for the government to remove the school fees and yet for teachers to decide to introduce contributions that poor parents can’t afford to pay for their children”.
GEM welcomes this key step in making sure the free education policy is implemented in practice and ensuring that the poorest children in Tanzania can access education.
Global monitoring data shows that in general, the poorest countries contribute the most to education expenditure. While in high income countries, families contribute just 18% of total education expenditure, this rises to a third in low income countries in general, and 63% in neighbouring Uganda.
Within Tanzania, as in many countries, the poorest children are the most likely to be out of school. Only 3% of the richest children have never been to school compared to 33% of the poorest. Responsibility for implementing fee free education lies at the school level, and the President is holding the sector to account for this. (World Education Blog – Global Education Monitoring Report)
“Punishment won’t stop teenage pregnancies,” because bad behaviour isn’t the cause
Tanzania’s harsh approach to teen pregnancies isn’t working. According to government data, the number of pregnancies in girls aged between 15 – 19 increased from 23% in 2010 to 27% in 2015, and is higher than 20 years ago.
Pregnant girls are routinely expelled from school and most recently this punitive approach was taken to extremes when school girls were arrested and told they may be forced to testify in court as to who got them pregnant. The idea that girls who get pregnant have broken unwritten social rules about respectability, and therefore must be wilful and badly behaved, provides authorities with a rationale for punishing girls and their families for pregnancies. This narrative must be challenged.
But veering in the other direction by describing girls as “victims” ignores that there may be reasons why they engage in risky relationships. Teenage pregnancy in Tanzania cannot be reduced to either ‘bad behaviour’ or ‘exploitation’. Research by Kate Pinock of the University of Oxford with Tanzanian schoolgirls highlights the complex dynamics of power, respectability and authority.
Kate says: “Often with the best of intentions about protecting girls’ status in their communities, authority figures (such as parents and teachers) reinforce social norms about respect, deference and “goodness” which can make it difficult for girls to assert themselves in relationships. Their stories were in sharp contrast to the dominant representation of girls’ sexuality as problematic and victimised. Girls spoke about sex and relationships not in terms of fear or passivity, but in relation to other hurdles and opportunities they faced. Poverty, male teachers, issues of respectability and community all shaped their experiences of sexuality.”
The pressure to achieve at school pushed girls into relationships with male teachers (for grades) or boyfriends who would pay for school supplies and food in return for their affections. The important thing was that this happened in secret and therefore did not affect girls’ reputations. But the clandestine nature of the arrangements means that there are no real opportunities for girls to seek information about preventing pregnancy. Using contraceptives or even talking about sex was seen as “bad behaviour”.
Girls already find ways to navigate repressive norms about their sexuality. With the right support and knowledge, they may be able to push back against them. It requires de-stigmatising conversations about sexuality and affirming girls so that they can pursue respectful and safe relationships. (TheConversation.com)
Minister lauds China for vast UDSM library facility
The Chinese government has invested 90bn TSh (£27.6 million) in a state of the art library for the University of Dar es Salaam which will benefit nearly 800,000 students. The structure combines the library and the Confucius Institute, which teaches Chinese language and culture at the university.
UDSM Vice Chancellor, Professor William Anangisye said the library will help realise UDSM’s dream of becoming a world class university. Minister for Education, Professor Joyce Nadlichako, said the library is bigger than any other in Africa. It is hoped that the library will improve student performance and university research, as well as giving students the opportunity to interact socially and academically with China, as one of the major global economic powerhouses.
The project has been delivered by Chinese construction firm, Jiangsu Jiangdu. The Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania Wang Ke said that the Chinese government is happy to see Tanzania developing in all spheres and the government is eager to continue to support Tanzania’s social development.
It is expected that the library will be completed in July, 2018.
Mkapa voices dismay over national education ‘crisis’
Speaking at the ceremony for the investiture of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Dodoma, former President Mkapa said that the concerns of the public and higher learning institutions about the poor quality of education in the country needed to be taken seriously. He said these include concerns about language, and lack of cooperation among education providers.
Mkapa recommended that an all-inclusive dialogue was needed to work out what is wrong and how to correct it.
On his record as outgoing chancellor of University of Dodoma, Mkapa said that enrolment had increased from 1,272 at its inception in 2007 to 10,000 at present. UDOM is currently ranked the second-best university in the country after the University of Dar es Salaam.
Newly appointed vice chancellor Professor Egid Mubofu said he wanted to improve facilities for research and pledged to construct two colleges of natural sciences and mathematics and earth sciences. (IPP Media)