Education funds contributors have specific motivations

17Jan 2020
The Guardian
Education funds contributors have specific motivations

THERE has been an urgent appeal by the Tanzania Education Authority (TEA) to contributors to focus on the authority rather than direct assistance to schools on the basis of private requests.

The authority has lately appealed to individuals and companies making various contributions aimed at improving education in the country to direct the same to the authority and not directly to institutions as is the case now. It is hard to figure out if such a shift will increase the contributions.

This appeal has been issued by the TEA Director General, Bahati Geuzye who admitted that those who direct their contributions to beneficiary institutions do not break any law, but there is a flaw in what they are doing. She said they are not likely to be better placed to know where the actual need is and thus they may end up pumping resources to less deserving schools. This is true, but only if the person or organization contributing has no specific preference in that regard, and that isn’t always the case, since at times it is affinity with the school that sparks offers.

She said TEA receives requests for assistance from needy schools all over the country with details of shortcomings. “So when we receive contributions, we first of all refer to the list of applications and prioritize the most deserving,” and in that view, this should be the way contributors should be thinking. However it is only a view of how it should be, quite honest and even the most appropriate approach, but life doesn’t always follow rules of a book. A school is like a child, so one has to have a reason for feeling close to the child, not just education needs.

There is however a particular group of contributors who may do well to follow that advice as they are neutral as to where their contributions will be directed. These are contributors who then wish to obtain a certificate of appreciation from the fund so as to seek for tax relief from the Treasury, as in the latter context there is at least a quid pro quo, if at least it is part of TEA operational rules that any organization that makes a contribution gets a tax exemption at least for the materials concerned (or any other appropriate definition of tax relief). The TEA chief executive did not dwell on that point so its breadth of appeal wasn’t clear.

Still she made a remark that there is a mountain of challenges facing education support, despite the government directing funds in that direction each year, also lamenting that disposition to contribute was low. She said both at an individual and corporate level the turnout to add resources the country’s education fund was low, which implies that the ‘carrot’ aspect isn’t working. It means there isn’t systematic tax relief, and indeed no estates-general on the subject was ever held.

What was even more worrying was that the remarks by the director general, or at least as they were reported in this and other media outlets, focused more on where the funds are directed than the quantity thereof. This may not bring results as people help schools they passed through, those they are fond of. Those helping the government need tax incentives as they wouldn’t be contributing for nothing. That means we forgo some taxes so long as input is made into deserving schools.

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