Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Only a makeover of education sector will do


The education sector continues to be a topic of interest for many Tanzanians even as the teacher-student ratio remains at an unacceptable level.

The Tanzania open data website reveals that by July 2017 almost 66 per cent of 17,352 primary schools recorded a teacher-to-pupil ratio that exceeded 1:40.

Worse still, there are government schools in some parts of the country where one teacher is charged with teaching more than 200 pupils in one class. That is not the only challenge.

According to a HakiElimu report, Uwezo, the rate of laboratory shortage in primary schools went up from 88 per cent in 2016 to 91.1 per cent last year.

This is in addition to reports in the past that have shown how literacy levels in our schools have remained low, with pupils in upper primary school level in some educational institutions, especially in rural areas, unable to read and write.

The worrying standards of education come at a time when the country continues to pursue its industrialisation dream. It is clear, therefore, that the country will have to come up with radical measures – including heavy financial investment – to ensure the sector prepares professionals that have the ability to spearhead the industrialisation drive.

If such measures are not taken, employers will continue to complain of half-baked graduates from our institutions of higher learning and exploit every loophole at their disposal to employ foreigners for jobs meant for local employees.

Besides, if we continue to neglect the education sector, Tanzania will continue to lag behind other countries in technological innovations in a world that is witnessing a rapid revolution in the sector.

In the 2017/18 financial year, a total of Sh4,706.4 billion was approved by Parliament for the sector, an amount that was less than the Sh4,770.4 billion that was approved 2016/17 financial year. It means that the education sector’s budget dropped by Sh64 billion.

This trend looks set to continue if the 2018/19 education budget passed recently is anything to go by. Is this really going to help the education sector?