Monday, September 28, 2015

An education expert says free education in Tanzania is possible

Two days after some education stakeholders castigated the idea of having free education in the country as being perpetrated by some politicians in their campaigns, an educationist has said that the concept is possible if the government would strictly put in place proper use of taxes and other revenues collected. According to the expert, there are various ways in which the government could follow in order to accumulate funds from own local resources that can be enough to subsidize the widened gaps existing in education sector. Speaking exclusively in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the Secretary General of Tanzania Teachers’ Union (TTU) Ezekiah Oluoch said in a telephone interview that the government has enough resources to enable it fully fund basic education from early primary to form four secondary school up to diploma levels for teachers training in vocational colleges. Oluoch who professionally is a teacher noted that, “the only problem lies on the mismanagement of government funds and that no any leader in the country who has valued education and take a keen interest to help the nation in this matter, instead have been touting for the idea without demonstrating their action plan”. Elaborating on major steps that the government should follow in order to succeed, he quoted the recent World Bank report which says that developing countries need to invest not less than 5 percent of their Gross Domestic Products (DGP) in basic education, but this is contrary to 1.4 percent which Tanzania has invested. He said if the government would increase the percentage rate of its GDP in education and reach up to 5 percent, it means that students in public schools could not be required to contribute anything as is the case now whereby parents are forced to meet about 95 percent of the operational costs needed to be incurred by schools. However, he noted that, what could be required for students to incur is their school uniforms, shoes, beddings for those in boarding schools and other things for their personal necessities. He said Tanzania is lagging behind from other East African countries that have increased their GDP rates in education and outlined their statistics as indicated in brackets as Kenya (7.8 percent), Uganda (4.8 percent), Rwanda (5.8 percent) and Burundi (2.2 percent). In higher learning education, he noted that if the government through Higher Education Students' Loans Board (HESLB) could increase a deficit of 50 percent from the amount it currently give as loan to students which stand at Sh. 400,000/- per year, and this is increased up to Sh. 600,000/- it could have been enough to all students who are in need of such loans. 

The Secretary General of Tanzania Teachers’ Union (TTU) Ezekiah Oluoch 

Coming down on how the money should be collected, Oluoch has outlined various channels through which the government can make it possible for the benefit of the people especially the poor to enjoy. He noted that, the government should slash down tax exemption which at the moment has amounted to Sh. 1 trillion and save the money that should be directed to education sector. He queried a reflection how world wonders why Tanzania which economically is not stronger enough and that has introduced a system of tax exemptions in its government tax collection scheme.  Apart from that, he has blasted the government for failure to curb the increased rate of corruption and other various financial scandals such as Escrow which have emerged in recent years and no any effective control has been put in place. He has outlined ways on how the government can make proper use of Skills Development Levy (SDL) which every private employer in the country contributes 5 percent of their wage bill for the development of vocational trainings mostly in VETA colleges. According to him, only little percentage rate is taken there and larger amount is directed to public higher learning institution an aspect which he said is contrary to the purpose for which the fund was established. He said if the whole lot could be taken to VETA schools, students could be getting free education. On property tax he said that, if every house constructed in both surveyed and unsurvey plots could be charged correctly in the country, this is also another source of money that could be directed to fund education in the country. He further suggested that the government should have directed road tax collected for fuel so that it could contribute for education. Another amusing thing is where he queried why should the government continue collecting Pay As you Earn (PAYE) from servants whose salary are less than 5 million per year whereas it gives a tax free holiday to business people whose profits is less than 20 million per year. He said if a tax structure could be harmonized properly, he is optimistic that Tanzanians could be freely taking their basic education if such schemes could be stiffened into action. “Free education is possible and is just a matter of sitting down and decide on the best ways to be followed”, he said and added that only that national leaders take the issue for granted and politicizing it for no reasons. Last week, the Interim Chairman of the Coalition of Defenders of People’s Constitution (UKAWA) James Mbatia outlined measures which the group will take in its move to provide free education as earlier campaigned by Chadema Presidential Candidate who represent the group Mr. Edward Lowassa. He said the coalition’s plan included slashing presidential foreign trips to 80 percent and other measures he noted would involve curbing tax evasion and improving efficiency at the country’s major harbours. Mbatia who doubles as NCCR-Mageuzi Chairman assured that the money was enough to build at least 200 vocational training colleges at the cost of SH. 20 million each.  The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) has always been assuring Tanzanians in the on-going campaigns that it would allow free education from the Primary level up to Secondary level in order to let everybody in the country attain basic education.

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