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Heated debate over state of education

1st February 2013
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James Mbatia

Deficiencies in the country’s educational system and the corruption encroaching on it, stirred a heated debate in the House yesterday, after a private motion was moved by legislator James Mbatia calling for a House committee to probe the issue.

Mbatia said in his motion that the country’s educational system is in an appalling state and that it needs urgent solutions for redress.

Things came to a head soon after the government tabled its side of the issue and the House Speaker, Anne Makinda asked the lawmakers to adopt one.

Lawmakers, mostly from the opposition, stood in favour of Mbatia, who had called on the House to form a select committee to investigate the deficiencies, taking into account that the recommendations he had made were aimed at improving the country’s education system.

Peter Msigwa (Iringa Urban, Chadema) said: “Mbatia’s motion is pertinent and should be adopted for debate if we want to improve our educational system. This sector has a lot of challenges and I think this is the time to solve the educational challenges.”

The outspoken politician said the education sector is overwhelmed by a myriad of challenges that need to be thoroughly investigated as suggested by Mbatia.

“I don’t see the reason for some MPs to be reluctant to form a special parliamentary committee to examine the scale of the problems of our educational system,” he said.

The idea was also echoed by Felix Mkosamali (Muhambwe, NCCR-Mageuzi), who added: “Things are getting out of hand”.

“We are here to ensure that the government offers better services to our people…and when we see things are not going in the right direction, we’re supposed to chip in and rescue the situation,” he said.

For his part, Joshua Nasari (Arumeru East, Chadema) asked the august House to stick to its role by taking the government to task on key national issues like education.

“We shouldn’t allow people to play with education. Let’s be serious on this,” Nasari, who is the youngest MP in the House, said.

Christopher Ole Sendeka (Simanjiro, CCM) said: “It is true our educational system is in trouble. We have seen weaknesses in its policy, curriculum and the management in entirety.”

“But we need to give room to educational experts to review the situation. The role of the parliament is not to usurp the powers of the government. So, I appeal to you (MPs) to leave the government to continue with what it is doing in reviewing the educational policy.”

Lauding Mbatia for coming up with the informative motion, Peramiho lawmaker Jenista Mhagama said: “This will somehow address the key challenges facing the country’s educational sector. But I would suggest that if we give the government a chance to accomplish its ongoing work, it would work out better.”

Kongwa MP Job Ndugai said parliamentary standing orders suggested that it would be impossible for the House to come up with a probe team because the motion is too general.

“This motion is too general. Our standing orders do not allow the House to form more than one parliamentary select team. In the circumstances, it is logical that we adhere to the government proposal, which has also incorporated Mbatia’s views,” Ndugai, who is also Deputy Speaker, said.

He also appealed to MPs not to rush into the matter, but rather take the motion as a very serious thing for the well-being of Tanzanians.

“The government will also work closely with Mbatia and the Permanent Parliamentary Committee on Social Services, so that eventually, we come up with an excellent educational policy,” Minister of State, Prime Minister’s Office, (Policy, Coordination and Parliamentary Affairs), William Lukuvi suggested.

Education and Vocational Training minister Dr Shukuru Kawambwa requested the MPs to let the government accomplish its groundwork of reviewing the education policy.

Moving the motion, Mbatia pointed out that the educational system in the country is in tatters and needs very urgent solutions to redress the situation.

He said the challenges start with the policy framework, curriculum and even the improperly prepared text books used in schools.

Mbatia said he is amazed on the role of EMAC in education which has approved books that are found to contain a lot of mistakes

Citing corruption as one of the causes, Mbatia said:

“Education is the heart beats of the nation, so there is a need to find a solution to redress the degeneration and one is to form a parliamentary probe team on the matter.”

The House later resolved to leave the matter in the hands of the government as proposed by the responsible minister, Dr Kawambwa.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN