Sunday, August 13, 2017

LHRC: Solve education challenges


By Louis Kolumbia @Collouis1999

Dar es Salaam. The Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) has urged the government to address various challenges facing education, a move they believe would improve quality and equity in provision.

LHRC’s recent human rights report, dubbed the Bi-Annual Tanzania Human Rights Report 2017, suggests that strategies of improving the quality of education in public schools should be devised to compliment improved access to education through free basic education.

In the report for January to June 2017, LHRC wants the government to improve direct and indirect challenges related to education.

The challenges include; teachers’ welfare, shortage of classrooms and shortage of latrines both in public primary and secondary schools.

Speaking during the launch of the report last week, the executive director of LHRC, Dr Hellen Kijo Bisimba, hailed the government for implementing the free education policy as stated in the Education Policy, 2015.

It directs that children should be given free education from Standard One to Form Four.

“While LHRC commends the increase of funds granted by the government to primary and secondary schools in the country, which according to HakiElimu has increased to 93 per cent for primary schools and 100 per cent for secondary schools, LHRC finds the money isn’t enough to meet the needs of pupils, students and schools,” she said.

According to her, Sh10,000 and Sh25,000 allocated annually for each primary school pupil and secondary school student respectively, for purchasing books, examination materials and renovating buildings should be increased. According to her, despite achievements in the free education policy, stakeholders need to be educated on limitations of the policy.

HakiElimu in its recent study found out that 45 per cent of teachers believe that the free education policy would cover all education expenses, which is not the case.

She said, another challenge brought by the policy is too many pupils in classrooms in both primary and secondary schools following an enrolment expansion. She said the teacher-student ratio has risen to 1:164 instead of the standard 1:45.

The 2015/16 audit report by the Controller and Auditor General (CAG), released in April 2017 cited by the LHRC’s bi-annual report reveals that the schools face a shortage of 120,376 classrooms, 20,370 of them in primary schools.

The CAG report observed that while classrooms demand for primary schools was 44,000, only 23,630 were available and that secondary schools had 109,767 classrooms out of the needed 209,773.

Highlighting the desks shortage in Tanzanian schools, the CAG report indicates that both primary and secondary schools have shortages that amount to 147,841. The CAG report shows, while primary schools face a shortage of 119,209 desks, secondary schools are lacking 28,632 desks.

Out of 397,652 needed desks, primary schools have 278,443 while secondary schools have 28,632 out of 64,675 that are required.

Addressing shortage of teachers, the LHRC report says in April 2017, five teachers in Mbalawa Primary School in Dodoma Region were reported to teach 922 pupils.

“January, this year, Songea District in Ruvuma Region reported to have a shortage of 243 science and mathematics teachers. The following month, Kilombero District in Morogoro Region reported a shortage of 700 teachers,” reads LHRC report.

However, the LHRC report shows optimism that the shortage would go down following government’s move to employ 3,081 new teachers.

Also, the LHRC report wants the government to address an acute shortage of teacher’s houses, which according to the 2015/16 CAG report, the shortage was 94,530 houses.

According to the LHRC report, the country lacked 75 per cent of toilets and 59 per cent of laboratories.

A recent study report by Action Aid conducted in 30 schools in Kilwa District, Lindi Region shows that one pit latrine is shared by 135 pupils while in other schools 60 to 90 pupils shared one pit. The standard ratio is 1:20 for girls and 1:25 for boys.

“In Kilombero District, Morogoro, 21 primary schools did not have toilets, which forced the pupils and teachers to use the toilets of residents living around the school. Also, three schools in Ukerewe District, Mwanza that have a total of 3,971 pupils were in January this year forced to close due to shortage of toilets,” reads part of the report. The LHRC says reports from Mafinda Primary School in Mufindi District; Iringa shows that 863 pupils were using seven toilet holes while 832 pupils at Nyehunge Secondary School in Sengerema District, Mwanza shared 24 toilet holes.

However, the minister in the President’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Government), Mr George Simbachawene, told the august House that much has been done by the government to improve the quality of education provided through the free education policy, which has increased enrolment in pre-primary pupils from 971,716 to 1,842,513, equal to 38.5 per cent.

Tabling the 2017/18 budget estimates in April 18, this year in Dodoma, Mr Simbachawene said though the pupils enrolment to Standard One has slightly declined to 1,842, 513 in 2017 as compared to 1,896,584 last year, 483,072 students have been admitted in secondary schools this year out of selected 555,291. Out of those 244,707 students were boys and 238,365 girls.

“In ensuring infrastructure is improved, the government has built 59,692 teachers houses out of 252, 693 required; 45,348 houses for primary school teachers and 14,346 for secondary school teachers. Primary schools face a shortage of 182,899 houses and 69,794 for secondary school teachers,” he said.

He said schools have 230,160 toilet holes out of 608,031 needed and that the shortage was 377,871 holes only.

Primary schools have 167,496 and secondary schools have 62,664. Mr Simbachawene said during the 2016/17 fiscal year the government has renovated 310 classrooms and built 750 others.

The Basic Education Statistics of Tanzania (BEST 2016) shows another factor leading to increased enrolment in Standard One apart from the free education policy was the government’s strong partnership with parents, Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) and Community-Based Organisations (CBOs).

BEST 2016 shows that while boys pit latrines ratio stood at 1:53, the standard ratio is 1:25.

Females ratio was 1:52 and against the standard ratio of 1:20. The ratio of pupil in classroom was 1:73 against the standard of 1:45 and the document confirms that the pit latrines and classrooms were a major challenge in primary schools.

Furthermore, Best 2016 suggest that there is acute shortage of 10,943 (83.4%) school administration blocks, 15,342 (88%) Libraries and 16,290 (93.9%) first aid rooms.

BEST 2016 says increase in Form One enrolment was partly a result of government’s efforts to expand secondary education by ensuring primary school leavers passing Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) proceed for secondary education.

Also, sound participation of the private sector in education provision, contributing 18.7%, against the government’s contribution amounted to 81.3 per cent.