Students` bodies at institutions of higher learning have written a ninety-page letter advising the government to launch an intensive review of delivery of education in the country.
Dubbed ‘A letter from students of higher learning institutions to the government on strikes and demonstrations in the universities’ whose copy was e-mailed to The Guardian, the students called on the government through the ministry of education to coordinate fees at the higher learning institution for both public and private universities and schools to do away with bureaucracy in the education sector and provide room for students from poor families to access education.
The report said further that the government should form a regulatory authority to monitor the sector.
The government in 2012/2013 financial year should ensure that it gives priority to building enough hostels in all public universities as well as pressing private universities to do the same.
“We are advising the government not to allow opening up of branches of private universities until infrastructures are in place,” stated the report.
The students appealed to President Jakaya Kikwete to release more than 900 students who had been suspended, fired and those with cases to answer in court, saying the government should instead trace the root cause of the unrests at universities.
The students have also requested the issuing of allowances to be handled directly by the Higher Education Students Learning Board (HESLB) to control possible disputes between the students and university administrations.
“The process will also help to reduce corruption through ghost students,” stated the letter which also suggested the leadership and policy change at the board.
They suggested that the board hire loan officers in each university to be the link between the institutions and the board, but to report to the board.
The students appealed to the government to open special loan accounts for students to reduce the bureaucracy delaying funds from the Treasury.
Contacted on whether the ministry had received the letter, Deputy Minister for education and vocational training, Philip Mulugo said he had not.
“We have been communicating with university students through their legally recognized organization, Tanzania Higher Learning Institution Students Organization (TAHILISO).
“I am surprised as to why the media should receive the letter which we haven’t…anyway if what they have suggested is good, there is no problem. The issue is we can’t respond because we don’t have the letter to scrutinise the contents. If they were under Tahiliso, it would be easier for us to respond,” said Mulugo.
But when called for comment, the Chairman for the committee from the University of Dar es Salaam, Mastawily Fahami said they had already submitted the letter to the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training.
“We sent a hard copy on March 01, this year to the President’s office and to the Ministry of education and vocational training where we gave it to the permanent secretary,” said Fahami.
He said on March 03, they submitted the letter to the office of the prime minister.
According to the chairman, the committee was working under the auspices of Tahiliso and that it started the research in November last year, completing it in March this year.
There have been ongoing strikes and demonstrations by students of higher learning students, prompting the government to take action against some of them including legal action and expulsion.