by Naomi Rouse
Outcry as boy, 13, dies after beating from teacher
Campaigners have urged the Tanzanian government to review corporal punishment in schools after a 13-year-old boy died following a beating by his teacher.
Sperius Eradius, from Kagera, died on 27 August a few days after the punishment, having been accused of stealing from another teacher.
The case is being investigated by Tanzania’s health ministry, while local media reported on Monday that two teachers had been charged with Sperius’ murder.
The case has provoked an outcry from campaigners, who said children are being subjected to degrading and violent punishments. Representatives from the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment and Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA) said they hoped the case would bring an end to the use of such violence in schools.
Tanzania is one of a small number of African countries where corporal punishment is not banned in any setting. President John Magufuli has publicly stated his support for caning children. (The Guardian)
World Bank pulls $300m Tanzania loan over pregnant schoolgirl ban
The money, a significant proportion of funding totalling $500m awarded to Tanzania by the bank in 2018, was scheduled for approval last month to help to improve access to secondary education.
In a double blow, the World Bank announcement came on the same day that Denmark, Tanzania’s second biggest donor, said it was withholding $10m of aid funding due to concerns over human rights abuses and “unacceptable homophobic comments” by a government official.
Tanzanian schools routinely expel girls who become pregnant, who are thought to number about 8,000 a year. The practice dates back several decades but has intensified since President John Magufuli took office in 2015. Some schools have imposed compulsory pregnancy tests on girls.
A spokesman said: “Working with our partners, the World Bank will continue to advocate girls’ access to education through our dialogue with the Tanzanian government. The economic and social returns for girls finishing their education are very high in every society for both current and future generations.”
Tanzania has one of the highest adolescent pregnancy rates in the world, with widespread sexual violence and girls exchanging sex for school fees, food and shelter, according to the UN.
The World Bank’s vice president for Africa, Dr Hafez Ghanem held talks with President John Magufuli early in December in an effort to resolve the issue.
Following this meeting, the state house issued a statement confirming that the World Bank finally agreed to release the loan. However, Dr Ghanem explained that the World Bank is working with the Tanzanian government to redesign the project, and that the government has agreed to find a solution so that the girls can go back to school. He said though the project start date was 30th October, the World Bank would delay as long as necessary to accommodate the agreements made with the government.
Dr Ghanem confirmed that the World Bank had also discussed the new Statistics Act with the government, saying “Statistics is our work. All our decisions and analyses are based on statistics, so if we don’t get reliable and credible statistics, we will be unable to do our work. We made this clear to the government and the government made it clear to us that they are open to discussions on modalities of dealing with this.”
An amendment to the statistics law would impose a fine, at least three years in jail, or both on those who questioned the accuracy of government figures.
Discussions with the government had also touched on the discrimination against the LGBTI community, but did not include a commitment from the government to guarantee human rights, freedom of the press and democracy, as Dr Ghanem said the World Bank cannot get involved in political questions, but focuses on development issues. Dr Ghanem also emphasised the importance of Tanzania creating a conducive environment for business investment and noted a worsening in the ease of doing business in the last two years, which meant Tanzania would be overtaken by other countries. (The Guardian, The Citizen)
The case for revisiting school funding
The capitation grant (a ‘per pupil’ allocation of funding for schools) was introduced in 2002 to provide an income for schools after the government abolished fees for primary schools. Disbursements began in 2013 but were not consistently disbursed until 2016.
The grant is supposed to be allocated with 30% for teaching equipment, 30% for facility repair, 20% for examinations, 10% for sports, and 10% for administration.
Actual disbursements remain below the proposed $10 per pupil (at the time this was equivalent to TSh 16,000). However, only TSh 10,000 per pupil was disbursed, of which TSh 4,000 went to regional government for text books.
Teachers from Mapanda, Mufindi interviewed by The Citizen said the funding was insufficient. They were receiving TSh 157,000 per month, out of which they needed to fund travel and an overnight stay in Mafinga to collect the money from the bank, as the government required the money to be collected and reported on monthly. The Mufindi District Primary Education Officer said that otherwise if the government was short of money and saw money in school accounts, the understanding would be that the district does not need those funds.
Teachers highlighted that the amounts were far too small to fund any meaningful repairs on the school (in the case of one teacher interviewed
– just TSh 47,000). Another teacher said that they had incurred debts as a result of borrowing to buy basic supplies like chalk. One teacher said “often we are forced to write exams on the board because we cannot afford printing”.
Education policy analyst Makumbu Mwenezi said that Tanzania would need to engage community contributions as in other developing countries, as the TSh 500 per pupil per month allocation would not be enough to cover basic education costs.
Studies by Twaweza show that the average amount per pupil received by schools fell to TSh 2,055 in 2015, but went up to TSh 5,247 in 2016. Twaweza commented that while the capitation grant had helped to raise enrolment rates and relieve an acute shortage of teaching and learning materials in schools, it still needed to be increased significantly to lead to any meaningful changes in quality of learning. The Permanent Secretary for Education said they were in discussions with the President’s Office, Regional and Local Government and the Ministry of Finance and Planning to increase funding for education. (The Citizen)