Monday, April 1, 2013

"Infrastructure Yes, but Quality Education Is Vital"

Education continues to be a hot topic in government and the news as the first quarter of 2013 draws to a close.  A recent article in the Tanzania Daily News reports:

"Expansion of education infrastructure to ensure every Tanzanian child gets access to quality education is a commendable stride."

President Kikwete said this when addressing the academic staff of the Muslim University of Morogoro early this week.  According to him, entrance to secondary education from 524,325 seven years ago to 1.79 million in 2011 is an indication.  The number of students accessing university education has also increased from 40,719 in 2005 to 166,484 in 2012.

His statement that the government will continue to invest in expansion of education infrastructure is an indication of a political commitment to improve the quality of education.  We need to take note and give it deserving attention.  It is widely accepted that any serious nation which is concerned with the welfare of its citizens must invest in education on the understanding that it is the lifeline of its future.

Thus, when education standards tumble, it is a matter of serious concern.  We have seen this, that is why everyone is concerned by the massive failures that have been reported recently.  Yes, education in this country is undergoing serious challenges.  The last Form Four national examination results are a case in point.  The results shocked not only students and their parents but all Tanzanians including the Head of State.

For, over 60 percent failure requires heads to roll to find the root cause with lasting solutions.  A lot has been said and more is being said about the status of education of this country.  We are confident that the probe team picked by Premier Mizengo Pinda to investigate the mass failures in our schools will be taken seriously.  Solutions must be found.  Whatever the situation, everyone has a role to play as students, parents/guardians, teachers, and the government.

If we may ask ourselves, how much effort a child or student is willing to put in excelling in school, the results will be shocking.  It seems they have lost interest in school and too much time is spent on things such as sport, television, and social media.  At the same time, we understand that 50 percent of a child's education competence depends on the child him/herself.

How much time do parents have for their children, especially when it comes to school performance and learning?  Parents' involvement accounts for 30 percent while teachers' account for only 20 percent for a child to do well in school.  Hardships in life are consuming much of people's time.  The situation is worse for working parents whose responsibility to care for their children is left to the house-helper.

The situation in public schools' infrastructure is pathetic.  Students walk long distances to and from school sometimes on an empty stomach.  There are not enough text and reference books to cater for the needs of students.  Teachers' houses, salaries, and other remunerations are also wanting - the list is long.  But even with the challenges mentioned, we should not lose hope.  It calls for a collective effort to come together to find a lasting solution to the education problems.

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