EDITORIAL: Save education from going to the dogs

Sunday December 16 2018

The report published in our sister paper Mwananchi last Thursday on what is happening in our education sector – or, perhaps more accurately: what is NOT happening – is shocking, to say the least.

According to the deputy minister for Regional Administration and Local Government in the President’s Office (PO-RALG), Mr Mwita Waitara, 14 per cent of teachers countrywide are delinquents. They rarely turn up at their workplaces to render unto the nation what the nation – using precious taxpayer money – pays them to do: quality teaching.

As if this delinquency; this gross failure in doing one’s duty is not bad enough, a whopping 50 per cent of the teachers who routinely report for work do not deliver up to par as required of them.

Yet, both delinquent and underperforming teachers are paid in full and on time for work NOT done, or grossly underperformed – thus not delivering value for money (pay).

This is to say nothing of school pupils who play truant, absenting themselves from classes without permission from their caretakers: their teachers, parents or guardians.

Deputy minister Waitara was not quite done regarding the hydra-headed monster that continues to wreak havoc with education in Tanzania.

Addressing the annual general meeting of the Tanzania Heads of Secondary Schools Association (Tahossa), Mr Waitara also lamented that funds which are regularly released to finance the provision of quality education are more often than not unlawfully diverted to other/unrelated activities by officials who clearly do not wish quality education well.

Sh1.1 billion never reached intended beneficiaries

For example, some Sh1.1 billion that was earmarked for supporting education in local government councils in nine administrative regions under the ‘Education Quality Improvement Programme’ (Equip) simply never reached the intended beneficiaries.

The DfID (UK)-supported ‘Equip’ project aims to improve the quality of primary education especially for girls in educationally-disadvantaged regions of Tanzania. Yet, our education and related authorities play merry hell with our development partners’ efforts at aiding us as a nation-state.

All the foregoing shortcomings do not augur well for Tanzanian education, metaphorically sending the sector ‘to the dogs,’ with the quality of our education steadily taking a distinct turn for the worse.

And,what could unfortunately be the final incident in the series of false steps in education is the fact that the relevant authorities are NOT doing anything much – or at all – to salvage the situation before it worsens beyond redemption.

Most surprisingly, headteachers, headmasters and other superior officials are not promptly and effectively taking punitive, deterrent measures against delinquent teachers and truants, as well as perpetrators of malfeasance and/or misfeasance involving funds budgeted for or otherwise allocated to education.

All in all, Tanzanians don’t get quality education because of delinquent teachers (14 per cent), underperforming teachers (50 per cent), truancy (pupils), and illegal diversion of education funds.