Minister: Register pupils, then make cash demands

15Jan 2022
The Guardian
Minister: Register pupils, then make cash demands

​​​​​​​THE government has directed heads of primary and secondary schools not to turn away students who have not paid any agreed monetary contributions, but accept them first and resolve such issues later.

Innocent Bashungwa.

Innocent Bashungwa, the Minister of State in the President's Office (Regional Administration and Local Governments) issued this directive as schools open on Monday for a new academic year.

Various such institutions are known to be strict on fees or other contributions with those who have not complied turned away on reporting, a point the minister took up with administrators when he launched the training calendar on curriculum implementation for regional education officers and quality assurance officers.

The ministry had received complaints from parents and guardians about being charged whenever they take their children for registration ahead of school opening, he said.

 “Schools are about to open early next week and we have been receiving concerns from parents that they are being charged against the government’s directives,” he said.

He said there are scenarios which parents are coming across including students being told that schools are full and at times a teacher responsible for registration is away, he elaborated, directing that each school should have in place a registration teacher, selected before schools are opened.

Regional and district authorities must ensure they oversee the implementation of the free education policy, he said, pointing out that the government releases 26bn/- every month to facilitate free education run by local governments.

Education officers in collaboration with ward executive officers should identify children eligible for registration in school and sensitize parents to register them if they are yet to do so, he urged.

Late 2015, the government abolished fees for state-run secondary schools, 13 years after primary school fees were ended. The move was meant to guarantee every child in the country 11 years of free schooling.

Parents shoulder costs like uniforms, sports gear and classroom needs like exercise books, pencils and pens, making the move a major policy shift aligning the country with neighbouring Uganda in offering free universal education.

The move to scrap fees in primary schools in 2002 in the wake of conditions set for the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt cancellation initiative.

This enabled an increase in primary school enrolment from 59percent of children aged seven to 13 in 2000 to 94-percent in  the next few years, but parents pay for extras like school books and uniforms, while fees for high schools in the late 2015 measures.

The new policy aimed at freeing families from any fees or mandatory contributions for 11 years of schooling, with experts saying that Tanzania is on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal on education.

It targets enrolling more than 90 per cent of children in primary schools, after abolishing fees and pushing the building of schools in each village.