The decision by the World Bank to delay a vote on a $300 million (Sh678 billion) loan the government is hoping to use in a key project aimed at boosting science and technology capabilities of state-run secondary schools is regrettable.
What’s even more worrying is the fact that this is unfolding hard on the heels of another funding setback from the Bretton Woods Institution – the withholding of a $50 million (Sh112 billion) grant meant for the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The government could not bat off criticism over the Statistics Act – which development partners condemned as a bid to repress freedom of expression and restrict access to information.
All these developments now point to an urgent need to sit down and candidly review the country’s relations with the global financier. At this point, there is no doubt that the spirit of cooperation and partnership is less than ideal. This is why the two sides must reconsider going back to the drawing board and try to understand each other.
One reason given for the delay in the vote on the $300 million loan is that the World Bank is not happy with the stance the government took to lock out pregnant girls from readmission into public schools. The World Bank reasons that the Tanzanian government’s decision is against its desire to support policies that encourage the girl child’s education and make it possible for them to stay in school until they reach their full potential.
While the government has reacted strongly, insisting that the decision on pregnant school girls will stand, it has noted that efforts are underway to unlock the stalemate with the World Bank over the matter – a position the lenders have also confirmed. One can only hope that the two parties find common ground as soon as possible to allow the release of funds Tanzanian schools so desperately need.
All in all, such crises bring into sharp focus the need for continued efforts by Tanzania to work towards self-sustenance. It has got to come to a point where the government can continue in a healthy state without too much of outside assistance.