Tuesday, December 26, 2017

From cracks on hostels, to battle for loans, 2017 had it all

By Salome Gregory

2017 has been an eventful year in as far as the education sector in Tanzania is concerned. With only five days left to close the year, Success has compiled a roundup of major events that occured in Tanzania’s education sector in 2017.

Banning universities with poor quality of education

A total of 19 universities were banned from enrolling new students in July this year after a report blacklisted them for providing poor quality education. TCU’s acting executive secretary, Eleuther Mwageni, was quoted saying in Tanzania there are 71 universities registered, those that were blacklisted Kampala International University (KIU), Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology and Kenyatta University.

TTU boss accused of bribery

This month, the outgoing President of the Tanzania Teachers Union (TTU) Gracian Mukoba was reported being held by the Prevention and Combatting of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) for allegedly involving himself in bribery transactions in the ongoing election process of the Union’s top leadership.

According to the information available from the PCCB’s Spokesperson Mussa Misalaba, it shows that Mukoba was arrested by investigators from the Bureau at Chimwaga Hall grounds in Dodoma.

Mr Misalaba disclosed further that TTU President is alleged to have attempted to bribe voters so that they could elect him to the post. He could not give more details on the subject. “We are going on with investigations on the matter. Among other issues, electing their new leaders was the main agenda. President John Magufuli officiated the meeting and reminded teachers to choose clean leaders. Mukoba has since been released.

Loans board under pressure

In November this year, Tanzania Students Network Programme (TSNP), said some of the students were denied loans to pursue higher education despite submitting all papers proving they were either orphans or in dire straits.

A total of 31,000 students that were left out met requirements stipulated by the HESLB to get the loans. The students’ network wanted the ministry of education to issue a public statement on the fate of those who are aggrieved within five days so that they are not locked out of university registration.

HESLB was challenged to explain how it came to an early conclusion that only 30,000 students may qualify for the loans before the vetting itself. According to them, the government allocated Sh108 billion instead of Sh427 billion that it announced was budgeted for the exercise. “The reason therefore is lack of funds and not meeting selection criteria,” said TSNP in their statement.

Another damning Uwezo report

Among children aged 9 to 13, many are unable to complete Standard 2 work and the differences between districts are huge. The findings are according to a report titled Are our children learning? The Sixth Uwezo Tanzania Annual Learning Assessment Report 2017.

The Uwezo data showed improvements in basic Kiswahili literacy but, inequalities persist across the country. The gap between the lowest and highest performing districts is 60 percentage points.

Iringa Urban, was mentioned as the best performing district, whereby 74 percent of children aged 9 to 13 are able to pass basic literacy tests in English and Kiswahili and basic numeracy tests, while the corresponding figure in Sikonge is 15 percent. In Dar es Salaam 64 percent of children aged 9 to 13 years are able to pass the three tests while 23 percent of their peers in Katavi can do the same.

The report shows that, four out of ten children (42 per cent) in ultra-poor households passed all three tests compared to close to six out of ten (58 per cent) of their counterparts in non-poor households.

Aidan Eyakuze, executive director of Twaweza, was quoted saying, “it is very encouraging to see the improvements in basic Kiswahili literacy among our children, but we still have a very long way to go. One cause for worry is the growing inequality in outcomes based on location. Our data indicate that where a child lives has the most profound effect on whether or not they will learn, more than, whether a child’s mother is educated, whether the child attended pre-school or even whether they are stunted or not.”

Cracks on new UDSM hostels

Earlier this month, pictures showing big cracks in one of the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) hostels went viral. The UDSM hostels, built to accommodate close to 4,000 students became a heated topic among scholars and the general public ue to the visible cracks.

A team to investigate on the matter was formed by the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) administration. Prof David Mfinanga, UDSM deputy vice chancellor in charge of administration, told Success that the three-member team was led by a senior lecturer in structural engineering, Dr Paul Ndumbaro.

“The team has already carried out preliminary investigation and concluded that students’ safety has not been compromised as a result of the cracks. The team is also working with Tanzania Building Agency (TBA) to determine remedial measures that should be taken,” he was quoted in the telephone interview.

Simoni Masenga, identified as a member of the Dar es Salaam University Students Organisation (Daruso), was the first person to see the cracks and reported the matter to the hostel manager who said the buildings are still under TBA.

TBA chief executive Elius Mwakalinga said the cracks are caused by expansion joints.

“Expansion joints are meant to allow adjustment of the buildings. Every hostel block has three expansion joints,” he said, adding: “The time required for the buildings to adjust varied according to the type of soil where they were constructed and the length of the buildings,” he said.

And, Prof Mukandala retires

In December this year President John Magufuli appointed Prof William Anangisye to be the new Vice Chancellor for the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM). His appointemnet will be on for five years as Prof Rwekaza Mukandala finished his time.

Before his appoitment he was the Principal of the Dar es Salaam University College of Education (DUCE). Previously he worked as the Deputy Principal at Mkwaka Universtity College of Education (MUCE).