EDUCATION

by Naomi Rouse

New survey highlights shifting public views on education
Twelve years ago, around half of respondents in a public opinion survey thought that it would be better to have free schooling, even if the qual­ity of education was low. Since the introduction of free basic education, there has been a significant shift in public opinion, and a clear majority (87%) now think it would be “better to raise education standards, even if we have to pay fees”.

For the survey respondents, cost is a much lower concern than quality when choosing schools for their children. Only 6% of respondents said they would consider cost, whereas 72% said they were influenced by exam results and teacher motivation.

More than half of parents (53%) had made contributions of money, materials or labour to school constructions in the past year.

Many parents see themselves as primarily responsible for their chil­dren’s learning (52%) and 46% of parents said that teachers bear the primary responsibility. Almost no parents mentioned anyone in gov­ernment as being responsible for learning. (The Guardian)

Fresh plan to screen teachers
In June, the Ministry of Education tabled the Tanzania Teachers’ Professional Board Bill for a first reading in parliament, to improve regulation of teaching. The new education board will have nine mem­bers appointed by the Minister for Education, Science and Technology, which will include a registrar responsible for registering teachers and keeping records on them.

The penalty proposed in the new bill for working as a teacher without registration is a fine of between TSh 500,000 and TSh 1 million, and imprisonment for up to a year, or both. The new board will have con­trol of both private and public schools, in contrast with the Teachers Service Commission which currently only oversees teachers from public schools. Stakeholders welcomed the move, which has been under dis­cussion for a long time. (The Citizen)

Teacher : student ratio still a concern
Government data shows that primary school teachers in parts of Tanzania attend to as many as 180 pupils in a single classroom, with a huge disparity between urban and rural areas.

Government data shows a shortage of 47,151 teachers in primary schools across the country, with 66% of schools surpassing the 1:40 pupil teacher ratio. Considered regionally, just three regions had a pupil teacher ratio below the national average, which were Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Kilimanjaro.

Kasulu District in Kigoma region had the worst overall district pupil teacher ratio, at an average of 102. Plans were in place to employ 10,140 new primary school teachers in June. (The Citizen)

Number of HESLB loan recipients hits 40,000
The Higher Education Students’ Loans Board (HESLB) has increased the number of loan beneficiaries by 7,000 this year, to reach 40,000 new students. TSh 427 billion has been allocated for higher education loans, with priority given to those pursuing courses with shortage of experts and those in line with the country’s industrialisation policy. (The Citizen)

No study loans for students from wealthy families, reiterates Magufuli
President John Magufuli has reiterated that the government will not give higher education study loans to children from wealthy families.

“The government is facing a lot of challenges in educating our children, and it’s even sad that a report shows that at least 3,500 ghost students accessed loans, while thousands of others had finished studies but have been elusive in paying back their loans.”

Dr Magufuli made the remarks at Mkwawa University in Iringa Region, highlighting the government is spending over TSh 23.8 billion every month on free education.

Government reacts to uproar over new HESLB loan terms
Education stakeholders are up in arms over the government’s decision to use the business licences of parents or guardians as a condition for granting higher education loans. The move is intended to help in estab­lishing the income of students’ parents or guardians.

The Deputy Minister for Education called up on the public to ignore reports that a student whose parents or guardians have no business licence wouldn’t qualify for a loan. Some MPs had also raised this con­cern, saying that the policy would discriminate against small traders without licences. The Deputy Minister stated that “We want to assure the public that we only use business licences to determine the actual income of students’ parents and not otherwise”. (The Citizen)

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