Monday, May 26, 2014

Review education sector status, varsities told

The Minister for Education and Vocational Training Dr Shukuru Kawambwa this week directed the Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU) to conduct a study the current status of the Five-Year Development Plan 2011/2016 for education sector. The plan recommends all universities and other higher learning institutions to attain the demand by expanding their intake starting from 2011. Kawambwa was speaking at a closing ceremony of the 9th higher learning institutions exhibitions on Friday last week. He said various statistics on requirements for human recourses suggest more access to education sector for Tanzanians must be created. “Universities and higher learning institutions have had a big role to play in attaining this demand by expanding their intake in order to reach the target of the 2011-2016 Development Plans in education sector.” The plan indicates specific targets including 26,000 physical scientists, 88,000 architects and engineers, 22,000 life scientists and 64,000 medical, dental and veterinary scientists, 30,000 economics related professionals and 32,000 teachers and 130,000 managerial workers. On this year’s exhibition, Kawambwa said at least 66 universities and higher institutions had participated from different countries including Kenya, Turkey, Uganda Zimbabwe, India, China, United State and Dubai. He said China had enabled 20 local universities to participate and exhibit their programmes during such exhibitions that have shown strong collaboration between foreign and local exhibitors that will also be a catalyst linkage among higher education institutions. “The government will also continue to support higher education institutions to achieve desired goals in science, technology and innovation,” he said. On his part, TCU chairperson Prof Awadhi Mawenya said this year’s event is themed ‘Learning National Revelopment Through Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation.”  The committee chairperson, Dr Naomi Gatunzi said this education exhibition has enabled visitors including prospective candidates for higher education to get an opportunity to share ideas and views on activities offered by those institutions. She said that the 9th exhibition had become a venue for open debate where high schools and university students shared ideas on selected topics.

Microsoft reveals shift in cybercrime tactics

Microsoft Corp has released new data indicating that as attacks against software targets are becoming more difficult and expensive cybercriminals are increasingly turning to deceptive tactics for malicious purposes such as stealing people’s personal and financial information. In the last quarter of 2013, the number of computers that had to be disinfected as a result of deceptive tactics more than tripled from a similar period the previous year. This increase in deceptive tactics corresponds with a 70 percent decline in the number of severe vulnerabilities exploited in Microsoft products between 2010 and 2013. Additionally, the increased adoption of key security mitigations across the industry are making it more difficult and expensive for cybercriminals to develop software exploits. Microsoft Corp director for Trustworthy Computing, Tim Rains said: “Keeping cybercriminals on the run requires a robust security strategy,” elaborating that “the safest houses don’t just have locked doors. They have well-lit entry points and advanced security systems. It’s the same with computer security - the more we layer our defenses the better we are at thwarting attacks.” According to Microsoft’s new data, one of the most common tactics used was deceptive downloads. These downloads were identified as a top threat in 95 percent of the 110 countries/regions that Microsoft data examined.  Rains also said that cybercriminals lure their victims with deceptive downloads by bundling malware with legitimate downloadable content such as software, music or videos found online. While the threat of deceptive downloads is on the rise, their impact is often not seen right away. “Infected machines often continue to function, and the only observable signs of the malicious download might be a slower computer or unexpected search results popping up in a browser. Over time, fraudulent activity like click fraud generated from the infected computer can tarnish an individual’s online reputation,” he said. “Of serious concern in Africa is the threat posed from illicit software downloaded from the internet, which is infected with malware deliberately bundled by cybercriminals,” says Daniel Kamau of the Anti-Piracy Lead for sub-Saharan Africa.   “With the internet population on the continent fast growing, downloading software online is a popular alternative but can have serious consequences if it’s not legitimate,” he said. While deceptive downloads were identified as one of the most prevalent tactics used worldwide, ransom ware is another deceptive practice that continues to affect people and can be devastating for those victimized by it.  Ransom ware often pretends to be an official-looking warning from a well-known law enforcement agency. It accuses its victim of committing a computer-related crime and demands they pay a fine to regain control of the computer.  Ransom ware is geographically concentrated, but for cybercriminals looking to make a quick profit, the data shows it is an increasingly alluring tactic.  In fact, the top ransom ware threat encountered globally increased by 45 percent between the first half and the second half of 2013.  In light of this new information on cyber threats, Microsoft advises customers take a few actions to help keep themselves protected, including using newer software whenever possible and keeping it up to date, only downloading from trusted sources, running antivirus, and backing up files. “Migrating to Windows 8.1 gives users a chance to modernize their business, and prevent their systems from being attacked by malicious software. The end of support service is an opportunity for users to build a secure and robust working ecosystem to avoid any software compliance issues,” said Hasmukh Chudasama, Microsoft Solutions Business Manager at Dimension Data, E.A.  “Most customers who have upgraded so far have reported that they are seeing reduced malware activity in their networks,” he asserted.  Microsoft releases its cyber security report twice a year, which culminates data from more than a billion systems users worldwide and some of the busiest online services.  The report provides an in-depth analysis on the latest threat trends for 110 countries/regions worldwide and is designed to help inform people about the most prevalent global and regional threat trends so that they can better protect themselves and their organizations.

Police net six ‘mbwa mwitu’ gang leaders

Police in Dar es Salaam have arrested six people suspected to be ring leaders of the bandit groups who have been terrorizing various neighborhoods in the city. The culprits are among members of a group known as ‘Panya Road’ and ‘MbwaMwitu’ who move around in large groups of up to 150 individuals, breaking into homes and robbing the occupants of laptops, mobile phones, electronic appliances, cash and other valuables.  The commissioner for the Dar es Salaam Special Police Zone Suleiman Kova told reporters in a press conference on Saturday last week in Dar es Salaam that, the group have been threatening safety of the people living in Kigogo, Magomeni, Tabata, Manzese and Mbagala areas.

The commissioner for the Dar es Salaam Special Police Zone Suleiman Kova  

He said investigation has revealed that the incidents occurred on 18th and 20th May this year after two robbers were killed who were   among the thug groups. “After the terrorizing tension rose in various parts of the city, police conducted serious investigation where the six bandits were arrested, four of them Kinondoni residents and the other two from Temeke,” said Kova.  The arrested bandits are Athuman Said (20), Joseph Ponela who is a Boda Boda rider, Clement Peter (25), Roman Vitus (18) all residents of Kigogo, while others are Mwinshehe Adam (37) and Daniel Peter (25) from Temeke.
 This group of robbers ‘Panya Road’ and ‘Mbwa Mwitu’ attack people walking alone, stealing their valuable belongings and they are usually armed with machetes, clubs and iron bars. Kova said that on 18th May this year one person was killed by angry residents after he tried to steal a motorcycle in Kigogo. “On 20th May after the burial of the culprit, a group of those people believed to be Panya Road members attacked the area and terrorized neighborhoods,” he said During the fight with the residents another robber was killed and he was supposed to be buried on the 22nd but he was not buried on that day due to the tension. He said people at the area started to spread the messages that the Panya Road group will re-emerge, so he was buried on the 23rd after police intervention. The police have managed to control the situation, but there are people who are spreading messages saying that in some places gang groups continue to attack the area, the commissioner added.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dar in great fear over ‘dengue fever’

There is increased fear among some Dar es Salaam city residents mostly those living in flood prone areas over the emergence of dengue fever disease whose prevalence poses a great threat despite measures being undertaken by the government to curb its spread. The disease which has now become the talk of the day in some parts in the city has left many at a crossroad with the majority pleading for the government to take drastic measures as their safety is more at risk. Speaking in an exclusive interview mid this week in different parts in the city, residents living in flood prone areas have expressed their sympathetic fears calling for the government to take drastic measures in order to help them as they are the mostly affected victims of the disease. They have lamented that, have no way to evacuate their home dwellings which are surrounded with stagnant water due to the on-going rains, and that possibly forms the breeding places for mosquitoes causing the disease. Wilson Mniko (60) a resident of Majohe in Ilala district said that, as their areas have been badly affected by rainy water and their structures submerged by water log, they live in fear because of the formation of breeding places for mosquitoes. Agness Wankyo (45) a resident of Kitunda lamented as she look over the situation at her house whose surrounding is full of water from rain. In view of this she has called on the government’s intervention to help lives of the people. Abdallah Ally (50) of Kigogo in Dar es Salaam lamented for those people who are residing in valleys including himself saying that he is at danger as his life poses danger due to the disease, thus calling the government for immediate rescue.  The residents’ call has come hardly three days after the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) announced in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday this week that, it was launching a study to forge techniques of fighting dangue fever. NIMR Director General, Dr Mwele Malecela revealed this in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday this week when she briefed reporters on the status of the viral disease and efforts taken by the governments to combat it. Dr Malecela said the research to be conducted in Dar es Salaam’s three districts will mainly focus on the magnitude of the disease and the characteristics of the Aedes (the mosquito that transmit the disease) including its common breeding areas. She said the research will use samples of people and mosquitoes from each district so as to determine which district is dominated by the Aedes mosquito and the time that they prefer to bite.  According to her, the research will be conducted for a month and the data collected will help improve the techniques of fighting the viral disease. Meanwhile, the National Assembly this week directed the government to provide thorough information on the scale of the fever which has already claimed lives of 3 people in Dar es Salaam including a Doctor of Temeke hospital Gilberet Buberwa. In a bid to stop the spread of the disease, on Friday this week, Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Said Meck Sadiki directed all three municipal council executives of Temeke, Kinondoni and Ilala to heighten the fight against Dengue Fever, which has affected some 490 people since its outbreak last January in Dar es Salaam region alone. The RC issued directive when he released the current status report to the media – at which he revealed that the three municipalities had since set aside Sh218 million to fight the disease. He said some 940 litres of the spray deodorant Bacillus Thuringiensis Israelensis (BTI), a chemical used to kill the breeding grounds for the mosquito, Aedes which causes the disease, had been distributed at strategic centres across the city, specifically in areas more prone to infection. He added that special information kits had also been sent to heads of schools and colleges, asking them to keep their environs clean. The update by the RC shows that 494 people have been diagnosed with Dengue Fever by last Thursday (May 15) since its outbreak last January, with the Kinondoni at the head of the list (388 cases), Ilala 73 and Temeke 32. Dengue fever is a disease caused by a family of viruses that are transmitted by a type of a mosquito known as Aedes. The symptoms include as severe joint and muscle pain, swollen lymph nodes, headache, rash and fever. Treatment of acute dengue is supportive, using either oral or intravenous rehydration for mild or moderate disease, and intravenous fluids and blood transfusion for more severe cases. The number of cases of dengue fever has increased dramatically since the 1960s, with between 50 and 528 million people infected yearly. Early descriptions of the condition date from 1779, and its viral cause and the transmission were figured out in the early 20th century. Dengue has become a global problem since the second World War and is endemic in more than 110 countries.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Private school owners want overhaul of sector

The Association of Managers and Owners of Non Government Schools and colleges (TAMONGSCO) has called upon the government to establish an independent body that will ensure equal provision of better education in the country. The association’s chairman, retired army Colonel Ally Mwanakatwe made the plea on Thursday in Dar es Salaam when the management of the association met with the chairman of the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TSPF) Dr. Reginald Mengi. In their meeting, Col. Mwanakatwe highlighted various challenges his association is facing and how they wish to overcome them to ensure they move on with their mission of providing education in the country. He said that, the government has changed its course and directed private schools to become more competitive instead of making them to become important stakeholders for the education sector. He said that it is high time for Tanzania to think of having an improved education system like other countries, noting that the country would never reach such a level if there will not be an independent body to regulate and supervise operations that match with the country’s educational needs, for public and private schools in the country. He said the current system of carrying out inspections and policy making without incorporating the stakeholders shows that the sector is using an outdated curriculum, which leads to discrimination among users of education services. “What we are asking the government is to look at how to establish an independent body to deal with the issue which will create conditions of equality for private and public schools,” he said. Col. Mwanakatwe further noted that the situation is bad as the government has made private schools to be more competitive in this sector which is not good for everyone. On his part, the secretary of the association Benjamin Nkonya said the government could have used subsidies through a voucher system to students. In this way he said it could have reduced costs for private schools so as to build a firm foundation in teaching methods in schools and colleges. “We know there is a system of giving subsidies to private schools and colleges from the government, but due to unknown reasons the system is no observed, which causes difficulties in administering the teaching curriculums in schools and colleges,” Nkonya said. Operational difficulties facing education investors have forced many to give up, failing to continue providing education services. Other challenges facing the owners’ association is lack of capital as most banks set high interest rates and stringent conditions which make educational investors failing to perform as required. Numerous taxes imposed and lack of students’ loans count among challenges still hampering the development of the sector. Dr. Mengi was receiving reports from the stakeholders, where he said most Tanzanians lose the use of their resources due to lack of education which would guide them into proper understanding of their rights. He said ignorance is the source of many people not to participate effectively in various economic activities and instead such activities are done by foreigners, who benefit from the local resources. “Bad contracts entered by the government are a contributing factor to make a nation not to benefit. They are caused by ignorance, an aspect which foreigners use as an opportunity to benefit as they monopolize the country’s economy,” said Dr. Mengi. TPSF has received numerous challenges of such kind and is currently working on them in order to normalize the situation so that the government would take drastic steps to save the nation, the noted entrepreneur intoned.