by Naomi Rouse
Obstacles to Tanzanian Quality Education Dream
In September 2019, The Citizen interviewed Sister Annette Farrell, a Holy Union Sister from Ireland, and Director of the Holy Union Sisters Debrabant High School in Mbagala about the state of education in Tanzania.
In the 1980s when Sister Farrell first started working in the Tanzanian education sector, a small number of elite, highly academic students qualified for secondary school, and schools were relatively well resourced to cater for these numbers. Now that access has increased, the same academic rigour is still expected of all, as if all students are expected to proceed to university. But students have different abilities and are ‘tortured’ by this system that is only designed for the most academically gifted.
“When I came to Tanzania in the 1980s the secondary section was tiny… but the academic programmes were very good. [They] suited the people who were chosen to be in secondary schools at that time. They had to have high academic ability as well as good character. Today there is only one programme for everyone. So children who have no capability in mathematics and no interest are forced to do the same exam as their counterparts brilliant in the subject. This programme could perhaps suit 10% and neglect the other 90%. This system is a disaster in the country’s quality education dream, as we are sacrificing the majority for the few.”
The system neglects other subjects and talents such as music, drama, sport, and computers. While highlighting the shortage of teachers as a major problem, she would not support an expansion of the system as it currently is, saying “it won’t make sense at all to be paying so many teachers throughout the country to produce the kind of results we are getting at Form Four.”
She highlighted lack of planning and investment, with overcrowded schools and ‘one teacher doing the work of three’. She reminded readers that ‘free education’ is paid for by citizen’s taxes but that citizens are not getting what they are paying for. She opposes the policy that prevents parents from contributing to schools to help improve them. Sister Farrell applauded the government’s initiatives to promote inclusion of students with disabilities. (The Citizen)
World Bank Report reveals reasons behind low learning levels
Reacting to the World Bank report: Ending Learning Poverty, what will it take? education stakeholders said that low budgetary allocations were the main cause of low literacy levels for 10 – 14 year olds. The report showed that 87% of 10 – 14 year olds in Sub Saharan Africa cannot comprehend a short, simple story.
Despite increasing enrolment in Tanzania, budget allocation has declined from 19 to 16% of Tanzania’s total budget. Spending per primary school pupil declined from TSh 335,891 in 2016/17 to TSh 220,566 in the current fiscal year.
Tusiime School Assistant Manager highlighted the importance of early years programmes to help develop children’s intellectual development.
The Human Capital Index shows that the productivity of the average child born in Africa today will be only 40% of what it could be if there were proper investment in health and education. (The Citizen)
Loans body tasked over boom delay
The Higher Education Students Loans Board was directed to meet with the student union to explain the delay in disbursing student loans. The University of Dar es Salaam Students Union (Daruso) had threatened a strike if the loans were not disbursed within 72 hours. However, HESLB Executive Director explained that students needed to pass their exams first, and that this was an issue of procedure. (The Citizen)
Over 50,000 students miss out on Form One selection for 2020
A total of 58,699 students who passed their Primary School Leaving Examination have not secured places at Form One due to shortage of classrooms, amounting to 7.7% of students affected. The affected pupils are from 13 regions. Kigoma was worst affected with 12,092 pupils not selected, being required to wait until classrooms are constructed. The Minister for Local Government instructed the respective regions to make sure classrooms are constructed by February 2020. (The Citizen)
CDRB bank to issue loans to students
CRDB is introducing a new service ‘Boom Advance’ to help students whose study loans have been delayed. ‘Boom’ denotes the amount allocated to students for meals and accommodation. CRDB’s Head of Consumer Banking, Mr Stephen Adili, said “For a long time we have looking at how we could find a lasting solution to this challenge which affects students academically”.
Boom Advance loans will be interest free and issued electronically through the SimBanking app. Loans of TSh 40,000 to TSh 120,000 will be available, and repayable within 45 days. Students must be registered with the Higher Education Students Loans Board to qualify. (The Citizen)
Invest more in education, Dar think-tank tells government
Executive Director of REPOA, Dr Donald Mmari, called for the government to invest more in education in order to accelerate the country’s development, learning from countries like the Netherlands which have succeeded as a result of investment in education.
He made the remarks at the relaunch of the Netherlands Alumni Association of Tanzania (NAAT) which brings together Tanzanians who have studied in the Netherlands to exchange ideas to contribute to Tanzania’s economic development. Dr Mmari said that 5,000 Tanzanians who have studied in the Netherlands are keen to be involved in the association, and he stressed that they have a responsibility to share what they have learned, for the benefit of Tanzania. He said there was much to learn from countries like the Netherlands – although geographically small, it is the 4th country in the global competitive economy after the USA, Singapore and China. He highlighted the Netherlands’ leadership in the renewable energy sector, and the support provided to Tanzania in renewable energy, agriculture, health and technology. (IPP Media)