Contributions impede free education - MPs

30Jun 2022
Getrude Mbago
Dodoma
The Guardian
Contributions impede free education - MPs

DESPITE the formal abolition of fees in primary and secondary education, parents still have to find multiple contributions for the children to attend school, a parliamentary leader has cautioned.

Closing the marathon Budget session of the legislature, Deputy Speaker Mussa Azzan popularly known as ‘Zungu,’ said that these contributions hurt parents, and puts at issue the sincerity of the government in removing school fees at all levels.

Parents were expected to feel actual relief from implementation of the free education policy, but they are burdened with contributions to cover expenses of school supplies, food, power, employing guards and other costs, routinely compelling poor parents to beg that their children remain in school, he said.

District councils have the ability to cover such expenses but they shift the responsibility to parents, he stated, wondering why the responsible ministry was allowing them to do so.

“We have witnessed how Dodoma has managed to eliminate such contributions, but other regions are still giving parents a hard time by forcing them to purchase teachers’ working tools and specially tailored school uniforms,” he told MPs.

Prices of uniforms sold in street markets range from 5,000/- but students are directed to pay 20,000/- or more to obtain such uniforms in school, he said in illustration, urging the Minister of State in the President’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Governments) to work on the matter and rescue parents from unnecessary contributions. This habit acutely distorts the free education policy, he insisted, while castigating MPs who have not been attending sessions, describing their behaviour as intolerable.

The free education policy prevalent for primary and secondary schools was buttressed a fortnight ago in a budgetary measure removing fees in high schools, to further facilitate ease of access to education for those selected for high school places.

Finance and Planning minister Dr Mwigulu Nchemba said in his budget presentation that currently there are 90,825 students in form five and 56,880 in form six, with their total needs pegged at 10.3bn/-.

“As directed by President Samia, I recommend fee-free education for form five and six students. The government is planning to accommodate technical colleges in this programme once the economic situation allows,” he affirmed, noting that by last April, a total of 244.5bn/- had been disbursed to facilitate free education at primary and secondary levels.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan is deeply concerned with rising numbers of school drop-outs for various reasons including household income poverty, teenage pregnancies, and poor education awareness in some communities, absenteeism and low examination performance, the minister added.

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