Telecom firm determined to improve education in Tanzania

21Sep 2016
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Telecom firm determined to improve education in Tanzania

EDUCATION is an important pillar for human development in terms of building human capability.

Using its state-of-the-art telecommunication infrastructure, Halotel Telecom Company launched internet services for schools (IFS) project since 2015.

In Tanzania, national educational indicators such as school enrolment reveal largely positive trends, particularly at the primary and secondary levels, although the quality of education and gender gaps, especially at higher levels, remain a major concern.
The quality of education is directly related to the quality of teaching and learning.

The role of teachers in improving the quality of education is crucial. Given this importance, it is vital to improve the professional competencies of teachers and to raise their morale by improving their living conditions, so that the quality of basic education does not decline.

The role of teachers in improving the quality of education is therefore crucial. Given the importance of this role, it is vital to improve the professional competencies of the teachers and to raise their morale by improving their living conditions so that the quality of basic education also grows.

In teaching, there are many factors that determine the quality of noble profession. They include the teacher’s qualifications and experience, their level of motivation and working conditions. There are several issues that need to be considered here if we are to go through these factors one after another.

The quality of education is a complex concept. Numerous studies attribute the quality of education to an inclusive term that contains access and input, on the one hand, and process, output or outcome, on the other.

Yet others regard access and input of education as separate but equally important concepts of quality of education.

Each group of stakeholders put their emphasis on different aspects of quality that they feel are more important to them than others.

Since 2002, Tanzania has seen an ambitious set of policy reforms in primary and more recently in secondary education. These have dramatically improved the state of education in the country, particularly in terms of classrooms infrastructure and enrolment.

Yet, in spite of the frequent promises made about education in Tanzania, the sector is plagued by broader governance challenges, among others.

In their efforts to complement government’s efforts in achieving quality education, Halotel mobile phone provider has put in much effort in boosting the educational system in Tanzania.

In an exclusive interview recently the mobile firm’s Head of Public Relation Department, Ngo Duy Truong said “Halotel Telecom Company is geared to transform the education sector in Tanzania in a way that will make teaching and learning easier, affordable, one and the same, and more fun than ever before.”

He says his company believes that providing world-class access to modern academic resources to schools in Tanzania will push the wheel of education towards a great future ahead for the many children.

“One of the biggest challenges in many developing countries, Tanzania inclusive, is the provision of quality education. The subject is shaking many countries as leaders go scratching their heads on how to provide proper education for every child’s future,” he explains.

Using its state-of-the-art telecommunication infrastructure, Halotel Telecom Company launched internet services for schools (IFS) project since 2015. The service is intended to cover as many schools as possible and provide them with free access to the internet for educational purposes within three years.

As of now, the company has reached 450 schools across the country where fast internet has been put in place. This has evidently proved to be a milestone to not only students, but to the teachers as well.

Many students interviewed by this paper have concurred with the firm’s plan saying the new arrangement makes learning easier and more realistic.

“The prices of hardcopy textbooks can make someone to give up his future career dream,” says Joseph Julius, a Form Six student at Lugoba High School studying PCB subjects.
Julius apparently testifies on how the IFS project has shaped his learning capacity and sharpened his knowledge.

He further reveals that the introduction of IFS project in their school has made them to easily have access to information, textbooks downloads, access articles, get content in full colour and have full HD in videos of anything they want to look or read.

“We used to see the DNA drawings in black and white and curiously wondered how it looked like, but I can now look up on the internet and get vast information about DNA in different forms be they in full colour photos, YouTube videos, textbooks, among others,” he says.

Lugoba High School which is located in Chalinze in Coast Region is one of the 450 schools that have benefited from the IFS project.

The school’s internet lab has 20 computers installed with fast internet, which teachers say is boosting the students’ teaching and learning.

Computer teacher at the high school Emmanuel Muhizi, commends the mobile phone firm for introducing the information technology (IT) project to the school.

“As IT teachers I must say we have been gaining a lot from the lab. There are new software updates every day, we must struggle to catch up with the world’s unfolding information technology, to be digital.”

Since the role of teachers in improving the quality of education is crucial, Halotel has also been supporting teachers by making it easier for them to communicate.

In order to make it effective, they have introduced a programme called Closer User Group (CUG), an amazing way that would be used to connect teachers across the country. With this project, teachers with Halotel (simcards) are joined into a group and can communicate among them for free.

To make them communicate, the mobile firm provides them with 15 free minutes every day and offers them up to 1 GB whenever they recharge their phones.

“This makes connectivity easier and accessible among the teachers. With such an arrangement teachers can share teaching ideas and materials with each other even if they are distant apart,” he says.

In much of its support directed to the education sector, the mobile company has also supported former Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda to build a modern primary school in Mpanda District, Katavi Region.

Equipped with modern facilities and buildings to facilitate teaching and provide the needed skills to students the school is a typical modern school in the sense of the word. It has a conference room, computer room, rest room and discussion room (for team building), all in one.

Furthermore, the mobile company has also offered furniture, lights, computers, air conditions and installed internet connection to the school.

Under the former Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda who had the vision to build a modern school with best education facilities for teachers and students, the project brings bright future for the people in Tanzania.

In Ruvuma Region, according to Truong, the mobile phone company has provided school bags to students in three primary schools with the intention of helping them carry their exercise books in a safe way as some come from poor families that can’t afford to support them to buy school needs.

So, for Halotel supporting students is one of its initiatives to boost education in the country.
Again in supporting the government’s efforts of ensuring all schools have enough desks,

during a recent ‘Simama Kaa’ Desk campaign, the phone company through Dr Amon Mkonga Foundation provided desks to Majengo Primary school. The handover of the desks will be at the end of this month.

There are so many schools in Tanzania, which still lack desks and other crucial teaching facilities, which are pointed out as some of the major hindering factors to get quality education.

For Halotel “education is the most powerful weapon that we can use to change the world. The young generation needs education to understand the world and more knowledgeable to develop their careers.”

It has been one year since Viettel Tanzania Company (Halotel) obtained its full legal entity status and officially started its investments.

Over a short period of time, it has built 18,000 km of optic fibre, almost 2,500 of 3G Base Transceiver stations (BTSs) and has brought the broadband mobile service to 1,500 villages, which had not been connected before.

In the near future, the company expects to expand its fiber optic network up to 28,000 kms, and the BTS up to 3,500. If this project materialises it will be able to connect every community of the country and beyond, he says.

Halotel has been recognised as the fastest growing telecom company in Tanzania in the two first quarters of 2016, according to the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority’s Report (TCRA).

Tanzanian’s education structure Other findings show that the Tanzanian education structure follows the British system as Tanzania was once a British colony.

Primary education in Tanzania is basically seven years, and it extends from Standard One to Standard Seven.

According to the Primary School (Compulsory and Attendance) Rule of 2002 children’s enrollment in primary schools is mandatory from age seven.

This rule makes it a criminal offence for parents or guardians who fail to enroll seven years olds into Standard (grade) One or to allow a pupil to drop out before completion of the full primary cycle.