Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Are primary school contributions legitimate?

A cross section of residents in Dar es Salaam especially parents and guardians have raised their concerns over primary schools development projects contributions saying such costs is a responsibility of the central government. The two weeks survey has  discovered that a number of Dar es Salaam’s Primary schools pupils are being asked by the school committees to contribute for desks purchase, gardening school yard, security guards and school blocks constructions. In schools like Jika, Mwangaza, Maarifa, Kiungani and Kurasini in the city, parents and guardians are contributing between Sh50,000 and Sh65,000 annually for schools developments. Some parents said that such a trend was emptying their pockets and slowing their home developments. Jacob Majaliwa, a resident of Ukonga in the city said he was personally not happy with such contributions because some parents have more than three pupils in the same schools and this is costly. He said failure by the government to construct more schools to accommodate pupils should not be a burden for parents because they (parents) were also paying government taxes through salaries and their businesses. Adam Masatu also a resident in the city was in view that such contributions were embarrassing to parents because it was denying pupils who do not contribute access to lessons.  The Head Teacher of Jika Primary School in Ilala District, Hamisi Ngoda admitted to such contributions saying however that the said necessities are always agreed upon by parents and their school committees.  Ngoda said it was not true that the government has boycotted its primary responsibility of issuing free education in public primary schools as indicated in the education policy and left such a burden to parents and guardians. He said such developments like contributions for desks and construction of blocks is done on the parents and guardians will, after holding discussions with the school committee where they are members. “There are other contributions like maintaining the school yard environment, payments of security guards, which is important in maintaining the schools surrounding sanitary and security. 

Whatever agreement is made between the school and parents, a summary of such a report is normally sent to the municipal education officer for documentation,”  According to the Headmistress of Mwangaza Primary school located in the city, Anna Kijuwuu, the lack of school desks had prompted her school and the committee to find solutions for such problems by involving parents. She said there were still a number of pupils at her school lacking desks and becoming hard for them to concentrate in class. “The only option to increase pupils’ desks at our school is to rely on parents contributions and not wait for the governments funds” she said. Contacted for comment, Ilala Municipal Education officer, Elizabeth Thomas admitted that a number of primary schools in the city involve parents for development projects in order to solve the challenges being faced in such schools.   She said around 17,816 pupil’s desks are needed in Ilala district alone with the current total number of desks standing at 32,021.  “Parents should not be reluctant to contribute for their own developments because such contributions are passed by their school committees” she said.  Last week, the Deputy Minister in Prime Minister’s Office responsible for education, Kassim Majaliwa was quoted by the local media in the parliament admitting to the governments’ lack of funds to solve primary school problems in the country. He said it was also the responsibility of the school boards and their committees to look on ways of reducing such problems by involving parents.

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