At last the ministry of education and vocational training is clearing issues which are very pertinent to the development of the education of our children.
It is about the mushrooming business of tuition, complete with centres in every corner of the country.
Indeed some people have amassed quick wealth through setting up and running such centres at minimal cost, and not paying any fees or taxes, because the outlets are not existent as far as the authorities are concerned.
As pointed out by the ministry, the centres are lacking a lot in terms of standards, with premises being too small to accommodate the large numbers of attendees, not to mention the lack of learning aids and competence of the tutors.
Yet such centres are thriving in every corner, taking in droves of pupils and students desperate to learn something, especially where teacher shortage, absenteeism and lack of textbooks has affected learning in the formal schools.
But it is also true that for many a teacher and a parent made desperate by a child claiming to not receive the necessary help from teachers, the fallback plan has been to pay for extra tuition.
A survey conducted by The Guardian in Dar es Salaam found a mushrooming of tuition centres, some of them situated in school premises.
At Mapinduzi primary school, for instance, Standard Five to Seven pupils need to pay 3000/- every Friday as examination fee and 300/- every day as tuition fee.
The birth of the tuition centres is thus an unwritten pact between children genuinely seeking to successfully navigate through difficult subjects, desperate parents wanting their children to succeed to pass exams and advance in education and teachers who need the extra income to survive.
We say so aware that many of the schools have also been involved in arranging for extra tuitions for their pupils and students, in a bid to improve their standing in national examinations and for the private schools marketability.
The move by the ministry to declare the centres ‘illegal’, saying they have not been officially sanctioned may not go down very well with these desperate parents and even the school children, many of who say the tuitions have made a difference in their understanding and performance in exams.
It may not be enough to warn parents and children that the centres were illegal, did not follow the set syllabi and therefore could mislead them.
Rather the ministry should see the problem in its totality. Indeed the situation reflects the ups and downs of our education system and must be addressed in the context of the continuing improvements to the sector.
For it is true that we still have shortage of teachers and learning aids in most of our schools, some in critical subjects such as mathematics and science in general.
Would it be too much to ask the ministry to revisit the issue with a view to finding ways to ensure that the help being extended to the needy pupils and students is professionally conducted?
This could be an interim measure while improvements continue to create better learning environment in our schools.