Mkapa voices dismay over national education ‘crisis’

19Mar 2018
Polycarp Machira
The Guardian
Mkapa voices dismay over national education ‘crisis’

FORMER president Benjamin Mkapa has called for an inclusive national debate on what he described as an education crisis in the country.

According to Mkapa, he regularly receives complaints from public and private-owned universities and other higher learning institutions about the national education system being in a deep mess.

“As a former editor of a national newspaper, I know that the best way for people to register what affects them most is through letters to the editor, thus such protest notes about our education system should not be ignored at all" he said.

He was speaking on Saturday at the joint Chancellor-Council-Senate ceremony for the Valediction and Investiture of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Dodoma (UDOM).

Mkapa, who is also UDOM chancellor, said the matter should be taken seriously to help save the nation.

He noted that there are people who complain about language, lack of cooperation among education providers, and absence of a close relationship between government and private sector education stakeholders, among others.

The current state of affairs is that public schools are not doing well in national examinations and out of the top ten best schools nationally, it is common to find only one or two government schools, he remarked.

The ex-president suggested that the only way to get out of this quagmire is to conduct an all-inclusive dialogue on the matter as there are feelings that Tanzania may be lagging behind other east African countries like Kenya and Uganda in the provision of education.

"As a nation, we need to identify what is wrong and how we can correct it," he said, asserting that these are not his own views alone but also shared by other concerned Tanzanians.

"I do not own a newspaper, I do not have an NGO like Twaweza, but I am expressing views of those concerned with the national education system," Mkapa said.

On UDOM’s progress during his 11-year stint as chancellor, Mkapa said students enrolment has increased from 1,272 at its inception in 2007 to 10,000 at present, while the number of graduates has increased from 2,240 in previous years to 5,575 currently.

Outgoing UDOM vice-chancellor Prof Idris Kikula pointed out that UDOM is currently ranked the second-best university in the country after the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM).

Newly appointed vice -chancellor Prof Egid Mubofu said he would seek to ensure a conducive environment for more research at UDOM to enhance its status as a centre of excellence that offers value added training.

"I'm informed that our university performs very well in teaching, but it's still faced with some challenges in research," said Prof Mubofu.

He also pledged to complete the construction of two colleges of natural sciences and mathematics and earth sciences at UDOM, saying President Magufuli has already promised to disburse the funds for the construction projects.

Prof Kikula had been UDOM vice-chancellor since its inception in 2007. His tenure officially ended on Saturday (March 17.)