A district commissioner receiving desks from a local bank for schools in Arusha Region at the weekend made a thought-provoking remark on ways to support institutions of learning.
The DC expressed appreciation for the support, but then went on to appeal to more stakeholders to emulate the bank.
He said other stakeholders could chip in by, say, helping in funding the construction or renovation of teachers’ houses, offices, classrooms and kitchens alongside donating books, desks and pens.
It is obvious that the two major national education transformation initiatives – Primary Education Development Programme (PEDEP) and Secondary Education Development Programme (SEDEP) – have done a reasonably good job that has led to a noticeable rise in the number of schools, students and teachers.
For example, while the country had 11,654 primary schools in 2000, the number reached 14,257 in 2005 and is expected to shoot up even further in 2015 largely thanks to the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
As for secondary schools, the number was 595 in 1995, rising to 927 in 2000 and now expected to witness a sharp increase by 2015.
This has naturally resulted in various other demands, as the number of enrolled pupils in Tanzanian schools is estimated to be 8,326,962 this year and projections put it at about 10 million by the 2015. This is according to research by ActionAid-International and the Tanzania Teachers’ Union.
The Prime Minister’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Governments) reports that at least 197,519 teachers’ houses are needed if the government is to provide shelter to all teachers in primary schools, but only 39,623 units are currently in place. As for secondary schools, there are only 20,178 units against standing demand for 61,904 units needed.
This is only as far as teachers’ houses is concerned, but the problem is much bigger considering that many of our schools still do not have enough classrooms, teachers’ offices and kitchens.
On the basis of this argument, companies, communities, other institutions and individuals should feel compelled to chip in with whatever assistance they can extend if the level of education in our country is to rise appreciably enough.
The bank is just one of the few institutions that have come forward and contributed to the development of our institutions of learning. While these gestures of goodwill are laudable, the situation is still far from satisfactory and the nation must do much more, aware that outside assistance is not guaranteed.
Tanzanians in their millions need to go an extra mile ahead in supporting the construction of teachers’ houses and offices, etc., particularly in institutions of learning worst hit by shortages of basic facilities.
It is clear that while few institutions or communities can fund the education of the staff they need to run their operations as scheduled, even they ultimately benefit from people educated or trained with public funds
The onus is therefore on all residents of Tanzania to feel obliged to support the country’s education sector even when some do not benefit directly from such investment.