It is heartening to note that two non-governmental organisa-tions have teamed up to offer a helping hand on the issue of financing for higher education students in local universities.The Mtwara-based Tanzania Social Support Foundation (TSSF) and an international organisation, Cosmopolitan Development Foundation (CDF International), have raised about $1 million (Sh2.2 billion) to meet some of the students’ education costs, mainly tuition fees, for those who have been admitted this year in various universities but did not get government funding.
The financing mechanism is a need-based financial aid pro-gramme and will be implemented by the two entities in close collaborations with universities and will benefit students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The amount allocated by the two organisations to help with financing issues of students might not cater for all students in need but it is a good start that should be emulated by other local civil society organisations.About half of all admitted students in Tanzania’s higher learn-ing institutions, roughly about 60,000 students, miss out on loans from the government loans agency, the Higher Education Stu-dents Loan Board (HESLB).
But even for those who access loans, complaints are rife that the amount is not enough. All these point to the fact that HESLB’s budget is grossly inadequate as the government has other priorities and cannot meet the educational financing needs of all students.And it is at this point that local stakeholders, including civil soci-ety organisations, private businesses and even individuals can help students from disadvantaged backgrounds to get an education.Several mining and oil multinationals with operations in Tanza-nia are already offering scholarships to students in specific courses.But it is high time local stakeholders joined forces, if possible with external partners, to help bridge the financing gap in higher education in the country.
ADDRESS BUNGE CASH WOES
Reports of delayed funding of Parliament have become com-mon lately. MPs have spoken openly about frustration in getting their salaries and allowances paid on time.Indeed, the MPs’ constituency allowance has been delayed sev-erally this year due the Ministry of Finance’s meagre allocation of funds to Parliament. Also, we have seen operations of the august House curtailed.Oversight committees have drastically scaled down their field visits, while latest reports indicate that the September sitting will be held for only a week instead of two or three weeks.
Parliament leadership has dismissed the fear that operations at the key institu-tion are affected.Speaker Job Ndugai has assured that its obligations to MPs’ and other service providers have been met. We would like to believe what Mr Ndugai and his team say, but when the evidence as described above abounds, no amount of persuasion will dissuade the public from believing that poor funding of Parliament is ham-pering operations and thus compromising its oversight role on the Executive.It will be remembered that when President John Magufuli took over government, one of the institutions he challenged to cut costs is Parliament. It is a good thing to check unwarranted public expenditure, but it is worrying when such a move begins to cripple Parliament.