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of carrying out inspections and policy making without incorporating the stakeholders shows that the sector is using an outdated curriculum, which leads to discrimination among users of education services.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.

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