Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Education stakeholders doubts campaigners on free education

THE Tanzania Association of Managers and Owners of Non-Government Schools and Colleges (TAMONGSCO) have dismissed pledges by some politicians who campaigns they would introduce free education in the country once entered in power calling such claims as baseless. The call by the association has come at this time when campaigns for the general election is going on with politicians making numerous promises here and there seeking consents from people to vote for them. Speaking in an exclusive interview the Tamongsco’s Secretary General Benjamin Nkonya said that it is quite impossible for a poor country like Tanzania to educate its citizens freely from primary to university level, saying these are mere political propagandas which cannot be implemented. He said that the education sector is engulfed with a myriad of problems some of which the government has failed to cover. However, he queried from where they will get money to incur some of the outstanding debts the government owes teachers in various primary and secondary schools in the country. Other costs teachers still demand from the government includes allowances, salaries, and many others which the government has never fulfilled.  The association is of the view of the fact that teacher’s dues are inducements to make them work harder in order to cope with the prevailing economic hardships experienced by low income earners. To compound all these, however, he wonders as to how the government in power will manage as currently there are lots of problems facing teachers in education sector in the country. He said by having free education in the country the system will not at all bring about any changes in regard to the quality education in the country which private schools are providing now. Asked to comment if free education will affect private schools, he noted that, the system will not affect their businesses because people look for quality bearing the fact that spending money is not an issue, the main concern in this aspect is to receive something of the high quality.  Giving the statistics, he clarified that the cost of financing one student in public secondary school is about $ 2000 (Tshs. 4 million) per each student that includes stationeries, accommodation and food for boarding students. Castigating over the issue, a University don has said that, Tanzania is still faced with a myriad of problems with its education system resulting into poor quality whereby a great number of primary school pupils finish their primary education without actually knowing how to read and write. Professor Kitila Mkumbo of the University of Dar es Salaam clarified a point yesterday calling on campaigners to address such a standing problem and highlight on how they could solve it instead of promising free education for all an aspect that is not a solution to bring about quality education.

Professor Kitila Mkumbo of the University of Dar es Salaam.

He said in a telephone interview when contacted for comments to elaborate on the general trend of having a free education to see if it is really a solution to end poor quality of education in the country. In his response he noted that, the idea of having free education from Primary to Higher learning institutions level is good, but this is just a mere political saying which practically is not possible. Elaborating more he noted that politicians are campaigning for what is already in the new education policy that guarantee free education up to form four level. In this case, however Prof. Mkumbo has queried if there is enough resources that would be enough to enable the government conduct free education in the country up to higher learning institutions. “Politicians have been campaigning about education, but they should understand the fact that, there is no free education in the world”, he said and queried why they don’t want to speak the truth about the matter. He cited the developed states such as the Scandinavian and Nordic countries which he said have managed to provide free education for their citizens because of their long national economic strength and not something of joke. However, he further noted that the possibility of having free education depends on high level of the country’s economy which is determined by a growing population in the country. He also noted that, during the era of socialist government in the country the population was low and that is why some few citizens benefited in free education system that could not persist longer. 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. The CCM’s party ideology publicity Secretary Nape Nnauye yesterday could not be able to clarify what measures his party would use when contacted in a telephone interview. But he insisted that, the CCM manifestos are intact to implement all that has been promised to be done.

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