by Ben Taylor
World Bank support for Higher Education
In May, the World Bank approved a combined financing of $875 million (about TSh 2 trillion) for three development projects, including $425 million on the Higher Education for Economic Transformation (HEET) project.
The finance from the International Development Association (IDA) also aims to help improve rural road access and employment opportunities and increased access to high quality broadband internet services.
“Approval of the three projects reflects the World Bank’s strong support to Tanzania,” said Mr Hafez Ghanem, the Regional Vice President for the World Bank.
“The experiences of successfully transitioning economies have shown that strong human capital is fundamental for long-term growth and the development of an economically secure middle class,” said Mara Warwick, World Bank country director. “These projects prioritize such investments, which will enable households at all income levels in Tanzania to benefit from growth.”
The HEET project aims to strengthen the learning environment, ensure greater alignment of priority degree programs to labour market needs, and improve the management of the higher education system.
This will be achieved by strengthening and building the capacity of 14 public higher education institutions in both Mainland and Zanzibar to become high quality centres of learning, focusing on areas with the greatest potential for growth over the coming decade; and enhancing the management of the higher education system through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, and subsidiary agencies. Among the key results, participating universities will add or modernize over 260 academic programs within priority areas, with over 100,000 students benefiting from direct interventions to enhance learning.
Higher education loan charges cut
Students celebrated in May when the Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Joyce Ndalichako confirmed in parliament that the government was implementing President Samia’s Suluhu Hassan’s directive to remove so-called nuisance charges on higher education loans.
Starting July 1, 2021, she said, the 6% charge in value retention to higher education loans beneficiaries will be scrapped, and the government is instructing the Higher Education Students Loans Board (HESLB) board of directors to scrap the 10% penalty charged on loan beneficiaries for delayed loan servicing.
The government, Prof Ndalichako said, was allocating TSh 500 billion during the coming financial year to finance university education of a total of 148,581 students. Of the beneficiaries, 50,250 will be first-years and 98,331 will be continuing students.
Students who spoke to The Citizen expressed support for the move. “I’m happy that the government seems to be creating an environment that will encourage one to repay the HESLB loan,” said Mr Samwel Ngulinzira, who is a beneficiary of the loans.
Luka Mkonongwa, a lecturer in the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) College of Education, commented that the government was now valuing children from poor families. “In the past, students ran away from loans and found it better to fund studies on their own because it charged interests like those charged by commercial banks,” he said.
In the same speech to parliament, Prof Ndalichako announced that the government will review the 2014 Education and Training Policy as well as the country’s Education Act of 1978 in order to ensure they meet the current demands.
“The government will also put emphasis in teaching technical education by strengthening practical skills in secondary and technical schools,” she said, adding that the government will also strengthen teaching of skills developing subjects in primary and secondary schools including agriculture, technical subjects, sports, art works and business.
She also stated that the government will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of curricula in order to ensure teaching and learning is delivered according to the qualities and conditions required, including the presence of teachers, textbooks and improved learning environment.
“The government will start reviewing curricula at all levels of education in order to ensure education and training are given the focus of building skills in relation to the present circumstances,” she said.
A-level results – no change in sky-high pass rate
The A-level pass rate has remained stable in 2020 and 2021, with government schools dominating in the top 10 list of best performing schools. The results of the exams, conducted in May this year and released by the National Examinations Council (Necta) in July in Zanzibar, show that the overall pass rate for school candidates was 99.62%, a slight increase from 99.51% in 2020.
The number of candidates who scored Divisions I, II, and III has increased by 0.19 percent from 97.74% in 2020 to 97.93% in 2021.
Only two of the top ten schools in 2021 were private schools (Kemebos and Feza Boys’). The other schools in the top 10 were Kisimiri (Arusha), Dareda (Manyara), Tabora Girls’ (Tabora), Tabora Boys’ (Tabora), Mwandeti (Arusha), Zakia Meghji (Geita), Kilosa (Morogoro) and Mzumbe (Morogoro).
Of the 89,802 candidates registered to take the exam, 88,273 candidates (98.30%) took the exam and 1,529 candidates (1.70%) did not, for various reasons including illness and absenteeism, said Necta’s executive Secretary, Charles Msonde.