Tanzania President, John Magufuli has addressed so many critical areas since he was sworn in as the president. Analysts have had their share of talk concerning his radical reforms. He has managed to cut down government expenditure, improved health services among other major strides. At the moment, he is working on improving literacy and education standards in Tanzania.
Free primary and secondary schooling in Tanzania
In a major policy shift, primary and secondary schooling will be free for all Tanzanian children from January 2016. As Tanzania prepares to introduce free basic education for all, it’s government has warned that it will punish parents who fail to ensure their children go to school. In East Africa, Tanzania joins Uganda in offering education free of charge.
According to UNESCO’s Regional overview on sub-Saharan Africa, 52% of children are enrolled in primary schools, the lowest enrollment rate of any region. UNESCO also reported marked gender inequalities. In most parts of Africa there is much higher enrollment by boys; in some there are more girls, due to sons having to stay home and tend to the family farm. Africa has more than 42 million children, almost half the school-age child population, receiving no schooling. Two-thirds of these are girls.
Education for development
In some instances, people have criticised President Magufuli saying he is overdoing things, for instance, the ‘waste cleaning campaign.’ Mr Magufuli picked up rubbish with Dar es Salaam residents from the street outside State House as part of the scheme, which he had ordered to replace independence day celebrations. He also rides a bicycle to state house in a move to cut costs incurred by the presidential envoy.
In relation to the UNESCO statistics above, free education especially for the primary school level is really important. Literacy is largely achieved at primary level. This reform will help transform Tanzania in the next couple of years in terms of human resources pool for the country, creation of small businesses, international trade and, generally economic engagement.
The USAID Centre reports that as of 2005, 40% of school-age children in Africa do not attend primary school and there are still 46 million school-age African children who have never stepped into a classroom.
Tanzania has not only passed a reform, it has put measures in place to avoid failure in their attempt to improve education and literacy rates. George Masaju, Tanzania’s attorney general, warned that parents deemed to be holding back efforts to create a literate society by keeping children out of school would face punishment.
“Causing a child to drop out from school for any reason is a criminal offense because you affect his fundamental right of being educated,” Masaju said at a graduation ceremony at Feza School in Dar es Salaam.
Prior to taking firm educational reforms, Tanzania already had a free education policy in place although some schools were not offering free education. These reforms improved the education system from 59 percent in 2005 to around 90 percent in 2011, according to UNICEF. We all know the problem with providing something free, people will want more free services. Some parents of school going kids have been dropping their kids from school saying they don’t have money to buy books and uniform.
Free secondary school education
Parents still had to pay for bits and pieces like school books and uniform. School fees for secondary schools has been cut off. The new policy aims to free families from any fees and contributions for 11 years of schooling. While it is already compulsory for parents to send their children to class, parents have not been penalised in the past.
In Africa, free education is critical for development of the continent. Most lawmakers in African countries are business moguls and some own private schools which pull out them from advocating for free education. The clash of interest between serving your country and serving your pocket is hitting the educational system in Africa. Some ministers legalise national uniforms in their countries and they will be the sole providers of that uniform for the country. President Magufuli’s work on education is commendable as far as he has less than three months in office as the president. It will be nice to see something similar in other African countries. Share your views with us.
Author: Gesture Chidhanguro