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Here are people`s views on education sector development

12th December 2011
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Today marks the end of exhibitions for 50 years of independence which took place at the Mwalimu Nyerere Exhibition grounds famously known as “Sabasaba” grounds from 1st December to 12th December, 2011.

Our columnist talked to concerns of many people who visited his pavilion on ‘Education sector development in the country’. Many people have opinion that there is a need to ensure that our education strategies become a reality and not just mere political statements which will never be realized. He presents issues I obtained some people…

As Tanzanians complete 50 years of our independence celebrations, the question is “How are we going to ensure there is robust education development in our country?”

The following are the concerns by various people who passed by my pavilion:

Understanding Challenge

The education Sector in Tanzania is facing many challenges including inadequate resources, lack of teaching and learning facilities and inadequate infrastructure. Others are low enrolment rate at various levels of education, low transition rate, gender disparity and outdated curricula.

The overall national target set in 2005 by the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, is to ensure provision of quality education at all levels by increasing the enrolment to 100 percent at Primary level and at least 50 percent of the primary school leavers to join Secondary education, 25 percent of ordinary secondary education to join advanced secondary, and 12.5 percent to join higher learning institutions by the year 2010.

The achievement in enrolment attained so far has triggered the need for even more facilities to match the increased enrolment. The education budget is about 20percent, which is just a peanut comparing to the challenges in the sector, and 80percent depends on external support. How are we going to ensure that the budget is increased through internal sources of revenue, instead of depending on the external aid?

Education for poverty alleviation

People need policy makers and decision makers in education sector to understand that literacy is very crucial in poverty eradication as it empowers people to become aware of their environment, the resources around them and how they can exploit for their development, to learn new skills and therefore they can make informed decisions about their lives.

The poorest and most vulnerable people need access to reliable information so that during difficult times they can opt for the best survival strategy, which will enable them and their families to keep going even during times of extreme hardships. Professor Kingo Mchombu of the University of Namibia in his paper “Libraries, literacy and poverty reduction” comments that “a literate person can learn new skills and knowledge which is a crucial asset that can improve household income-generating capability and reduce vulnerability to shocks such as economic turndown, loss of employment or the illness of a wage-earning family member”.

Fundraising skills

Need to ensure there is availability of funds for education development in their constituents. This calls for them to develop fundraising skills and networks that will support in their education development strategies. Fundraising is a necessary activity in both developing country and developed world for non profit organizations, political parties, religious institutions, etc, but fundraising for education is of utmost importance in order to foster education development.

Traditionally, in Tanzania we have been doing fundraising for various occasions such as weddings, funerals, birthday parties, picnics to name just a few but it has been very rarely to fundraise for children to access education; contrary to the societies in Kenya whereby for decades they have been conducting Harambees in order to support education projects including paying school fees for some children in their societies to pursue various levels of education. It’s high time now that we give priorities to education development.

Currently, heads of schools demand parents to make frequent contributions which have become nuisance. There is a need to help heads of schools to obtain other means of obtaining funds instead of squeezing parents with endless contributions.

Transport problems

Citizens would like decision makers to understand that inadequate and unreliable transport for students in various cities and towns in Tanzania has been one of the chronic problems which their academic hinders progress as well as cause some other social problems such as poor academic performance, teen pregnancies and other delinquencies such as students fighting with daladala conductors.

Students take many risks including to get punished when they are late, as well personal safety as they have to wake up very early and come home very late. This result in students to reach school while they are already stressed out, they study with divided attention as they are uncertain how and when are they going to reach home after school. Moreover, students lack adequate time and motivation for doing their homework and doing their personal academic revision.

Hunger

According to the World Food Program (WFP) report comment that, “there are approximately 300 million chronically hungry children in the world. One hundred million of them do not attend school, and two thirds of those not attending school are girls. WFP’s school feeding formula is simple: food attracts hungry children to school. An education broadens their options, helping to lift them out of poverty.”

Poor nutrition and health among schoolchildren contributes to the inefficiency of the educational system. Children with diminished cognitive abilities and sensory impairments naturally perform less well and are more likely to repeat grades and to drop out of school than children who are not impaired; they also enroll in school at a later age, if at all, and finish fewer years of schooling. The irregular school attendance of malnourished and unhealthy children is one of the key factors in poor performance.

Poor Performance in Examination

Citizens would like decision makers to understand that there persistence in declining of performance in Science, Mathematics and English subjects. This was termed as a major challenge facing the education sector in last decade. Poor performance in the Form Four national examinations last year revealed that most of the ward secondary schools do not have adequate teaching and learning resources including competent teachers. There is a need to take radical measures of ensuring that there is adequate investment in ward secondary schools to avoid such performance in future.

Lack of Employment for Graduates

The number of employment vacancies is still not enough to meet this emerging needs, this indicates that our economy is still lagging behind, as it does not stimulate on maximizing opportunities for employment.

However it should be understood that, when the population has grown, the whole economy (including the labour force, production, market) should also naturally grow, so the education resources and demands should match accordingly. The mismatch of this brings about the problem of unemployment to our young graduates.

Public-Private Partnership

In education policy, public-private partnerships play an important role in enhancing the supply and the quality of human capital. The Private sector has an obligation to participate and support education development through technical skills provision, financial support and actual implementation of the projects through its own resources. In order to flourish the private (business) sector requires highly skilled employees.

This calls for the political aspirants to ensure that they provide working strategies private sector is fully engage in investing in education development in order to obtain human resources which will eventually boost the growth of the private sector and the economy in general.

Education for Special Groups

There is a growing concern on whether we care for education of people with disabilities. People feel that there have not been effective plans to ensure that students with disabilities are given adequate support to access quality education at all levels.

Moreover, there is concern about girls who become pregnant whether they are given access to go back to school, as this has been talked for the past five years but nothing concrete has been done.

There are a number of pending issues in education sector which I could not mention and discuss them here but I would recommend that the decision makers in education sector to provide strategies to ensure that the education provided encourages the development in each citizen of three things: an enquiring mind; an ability to learn from what others do, and reject or adapt it to his own needs; and a basic confidence in his own position as a free and equal member of the society, who values others and is valued by them for what he does and not for what he obtains”.

The writer, Masozi Nyirenda, is a Specialist in Education Planning, Management, Economics of Education and Policy Studies; he is reached through 0754304181 or masozi.nyirenda@gmail.com

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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