Khat wracking Same primary school children

28Jan 2016
Our Reporter
The Guardian
Khat wracking Same primary school children

ATHOUGH the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Dr. Johhn Pombe Magufuli (JPM) is insisting on free education from primary to secondary schools (O-level) for the public schools to ensure education for all in the country, things are ‘quite different’ in Kilimanjaro region where some pupils in primary schools in Same district in the region produce and sell miraa (khat) and play truancy to work as ‘cheap labourers’ in khat farms!

Miraa (Khat)

This paper has revealed that, ten primary schools with bad performances in Kilimanjaro region in last year’s National Standard Seven Examination Results are from Same district, where they produce khat (Miraa), an illegal drug weed in Tanzania.
Few weeks ago, the Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner, Amos Makalla in collaboration with security organs in the region, named 28 villages in the district where they found a total of 260 acres of khat which is considered a “mind bender”.
Investigations by this paper in Same district show that the bottom ten primary schools in the Standard Seven National Examinations Results in Kilimanjaro region are located in the district that has become ‘giant’ in khat production. Many pupils play truancy to work as ‘cheap laboorers’ in khat farms.
Speaking in an interview on the matter, the Kilimanjaro RC, Amos Makalla said those primary schools with poor results in his region are from Same district.
“It’s very true that the primary schools with very poor performances in this year’s Standard Seven National Examinations Results are from Same district, the district that stands out in khat production..”, the RC explained.
He added that about two weeks ago, they got a tip off from a person that there were big farms that were used to produce khat in the district. When he went there with the regional security committee, they identified a total of 260 acres of khat, in 28 villages. He ordered the produce to be destroyed.
It is estimated that a khat producer with 1 to 2 acres can generate an income of 1.5 m/- to 2 m/- in a month.
“As you have seen, when the Kilimanjaro RC (Makalla) came here two weeks ago, he ordered us to destroy all our khat’s farms, but frankly speaking, I have constructed my residential house, taking care of my family and sending my kids for better education from the income generated from khat production,” commented one of the khat producers in Same district on condition of anonymity.

Kenya, one of the EAC member states, allows production, selling, and use of khat, while in Tanzania the government has banned khat and it is in the list of illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin.
Among communities from these areas, khat chewing has a history as a social custom dating back hundreds of years. Khat contains a monoamine alkaloid called cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant, which is said to cause excitement, loss of appetite and euphoria.
In 1980, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified it as a drug of abuse that can produce mild-to-moderate psychological dependence (less than tobacco or alcohol), although WHO does not consider khat to be seriously addictive.
Recently, the Head of State said that free education is just for starters because once the ongoing efforts to seal all holes through which public funds were being misused, the government will be in better position to provide even more basic services to the citizens, promptly free of charge.
Dr Magufuli made the statements while addressing residents of Arusha during meetings at Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) road Junction, Usa-River, Tengeru and Sekei areas along the main Arusha-Moshi highway, where his motorcade was forced into a series of stops.
The president was travelling from Kilimanjaro Airport to Arusha late on Thursday evening and braved heavy rains to speak to hundreds of residents who lined up along the 35-kilometre road stretch from the terminal to the city. Occasionally crowds thronged his convoy keen on getting a word or two from the President.
“I need your prayers. We are still dealing with corrupt people and fighting graft. “All this is to ensure that the country’s abundant resources are channelled towards public services,” Dr Magufuli told the eager residents of the townships located along the highway.
“I insist again that from this year onwards, education from Standard One to Form Four will be provided free of charge and the government has already disbursed funds to that effect.
Nobody should charge parents, pupils and students anything. We shall deal with any teacher or official who would dare to go against this directive,” said Dr Magufuli.
The Head of State said he was optimistic that ongoing operations to curb graft and loss of national revenue will soon bear fruit and that, other than just basic education, the government will be able to provide more essential services free of charge. Dr Magufuli also cautioned Arusha residents against harbouring post-election grudges.
“The polls are over and all of us must return to sanity as united citizens of a single country. Work together to achieve development and support all government initiatives in order to move the nation ahead,” he said, adding that he will ensure that all promises he made during campaigns are fulfilled.
While in Arusha, Dr John Magufuli presided over this year’s first army officers’ commissioning ceremony, at the ‘Tanzania Military Academy (TMA) in Monduli District.

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