by Naomi Rouse

World Bank approves controversial $500m education loan to Tanzania
A $500m World Bank loan has been issued to Tanzania as funding for the Secondary Education Quality Improvement Programme (SEQUIP). The loan was previously delayed following campaigns by opposition MP Zitto Kabwe and various civil society organisations for the World Bank to withhold the loan due to the government’s discriminatory policy of expelling pregnant schoolgirls.

Jaime Saavedra, global director for education for the World Bank said “Tanzania, like many countries around the world is suffering from a learning crisis, where children are either not in school, or are in school but not learning. Of 100 children who start school in Tanzania, less than half will finish primary and only three will complete their upper secondary schooling.”

The loan will fund improvements to secondary education, with two thirds of the loan dedicated to creating safe and quality learning environments for girls, benefitting an estimated 6.5 million secondary school students.

Zitto Kabwe, leader of the alliance for change and transparency party (ACT), received death threats after asking the World Bank to suspend the $500m education loan until “checks and balances” including a free press, free and fair elections, and the reinstatement of the Controller and Auditor General, were restored in the country.

In Parliament on 1 February, Abdallah Bulembo, from the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), said: “There is one man who took our issues outside the country, he should not be allowed back but should be killed where he is. What Mr Zitto Kabwe has been doing is treason in our country.”

Kabwe said that he was taking the threats seriously, but he would not be intimidated. “I have no regrets,” he is reported as saying. In a letter to World Bank president David Malpass, seen by the Guardian, the ACT requested assurance from the bank that any reprisals against Kabwe would “trigger a suspension of all World Bank operations and funding in the country”.

In 2017 similar threats were made against another opposition MP, Tundu Lissu, before he was shot 16 times by unknown assailants, suffer­ing life-changing injuries from which he is still recovering. No one has been arrested for the crime.

In November 2018, the bank withdrew a $300m loan to Tanzania for secondary education, partly because of the country’s mistreatment of pregnant schoolgirls, as well as threats against members of the LGBT+ community.

Since John Magufuli became president in 2015, the government has forced girls to undergo pregnancy tests and excluded thousands of them from school. Press freedoms and opposition activity have also been restricted.

Tanzania’s education minister, Joyce Ndalichako, has asserted Tanzania’s commitment to the education of all girls, saying: “The target [of the loan] is to reach more than 6.5 million secondary school students across the country, without discrimination and shall include girls who drop out of school for various reasons, including pregnancy.”

Of the 60,000 students who drop out of secondary school every year in Tanzania, 5,500 leave due to pregnancy according to World Bank data.

Tanzania’s ban on pregnant schoolgirls dates back to the 60s. Amid renewed criticism, it was reaffirmed in a 2017 speech by Tanzania’s president, John Magufuli, who stated that “as long as I am president … no pregnant student will be allowed to return to school. We cannot allow this immoral behaviour to permeate our primary and secondary schools.”

The latest government statement is that girls can continue to study in “Alternative Education Pathways”, and re-join the mainstream if they pass national exams. According the World Bank, the government has also “agreed to assess the prevalence of pregnancy testing and develop an approach to address this practice” and that the World Bank will “advocate a halt to all involuntary pregnancy testing in schools in Tanzania”.

Despite the latest statement from the government, Elín Martinez, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the Tanzanian government’s position remained unchanged. She referred to a recent tweet in Swahili from Tanzania’s chief government spokesperson that indicated the government has set up parallel systems for pregnant girls.

“Tanzania will continue to arbitrarily deny pregnant girls the right to study in formal public primary and secondary schools – and they will only have an option of studying in a parallel system, which will now be built using the World Bank’s loan,” said Martínez. The World Bank has “undermined its own commitment to non-discrimination and to improving the lives of ‘marginalised groups’”. (UK Guardian)

CCM lauds education system, sneers at calls for overhauling
CCM Secretary General Dr Bashiru Ally has said those calling for over­haul of the education system do not have authoritative knowledge of the matter.

Speaking during his tour of IPP Media outlets in Dar es Salaam, Dr Bashiru argued that people don’t realise that Tanzania’s education system produces some of the most brilliant brains in the world. “Tanzanians who get an opportunity to pursue graduate or postgraduate studies abroad, who are products of the system, do very well abroad.”

He said therefore changing the education system is not a priority for the party which is currently preparing its manifesto for the October elections, with agriculture, clean water and electricity among the top priorities.

However, last month the Parliamentary Committee on Social Services and Community Development said the education being provided does not respond to massive changes in the world, including in the areas of science and technology, and recommended the formation of a commission to overhaul Tanzania’s education system from kindergarten to university. (The Citizen)

Necta releases Form two and Form Four examination results
Pass rates improved by 1.38% on the previous year, with 80% of the 422,722 candidates passing Form Four examinations. For Form Two, the pass rate was 90% for 571,137 candidates.

For Standard Four (primary school) the pass rate improved by 26%, with 1.53 million students passing.

Tunduru District achieved the best results in its region in the 2019 Standard Seven examinations, and claims that the new technique of running learning camps helped achieve their success. The district has a shortage of 1,066 teachers. The pass rate improved by 12.4% in 2019 from 79% in 2018.

At the camps, the children had electricity, water, and food, and were kept safe with guards and also supervision from parents. The camps particularly helped girls by giving them more time to study and not having to do domestic chores.

The District academic officer, Ms Loyal said they faced a challenge of some parents directing their children to perform badly, in order to force them to end their educational journey there.

Private schools took the top ten positions for Form IV examinations. Many of the all-time academic giants retained their positions from 2018. Kemebzo Secondary School (Kagera) came top, followed by Saint Francis Girls’ Secondary School (Mbeya), and Feza Boys. (The Citizen)

President Magufuli dismayed by exam results for Zanzibar schools

President Magufuli at the opening of Mwanakwerekwe School (State House)

While laying the cornerstone for the new Mwanakwerekwe Secondary School in Zanzibar City, President Magufuli called upon teachers to work hard to ensure better marks for students. “I will say this even though some may not be happy…it’s shameful to see Zanzibar schools hold last positions in national examinations,” he affirmed. (IPP Media)

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