Dar es Salaam — John Mrosso (54) a resident of Shimbi village in Mkuu Division, Rombo District in Kilimanjaro region lauds the government for introducing ward secondary schools in his area. Mr Mrosso says that two of his children have studied at Kisali Secondary School while the rest went to Matolo and Horombo Secondary Schools respectively, all located in Rombo.
The children later join advanced secondary schools in other regions of the country, before they were admitted to universities and colleges for undergraduate studies in the country. These children could not have gone that far, because their father is a simple coffee and maize farmer who could hardly afford fees charged by private secondary schools in Kilimanjaro region. Mr Mrosso is not alone in this jubilation.
A score of parents in Rombo district admit that ward secondary schools have been of great help to them. John Mrema is another parent in the district, says his two children studied at Mkuu secondary school and are now supporting him after graduating as teacher and nurse respectively. "At the beginning I thought I could not afford but thank God I have managed to educate my children.
I thank the district authorities for encouraging me in this endeouver," says Mrema. Since parents in Rombo support the idea of building more schools, building of new classrooms and laboratories has smoothly been implemented as parents respond positively when approached for contributions. Such efforts have enabled the government in collaboration with local residents to build more secondary schools in Rombo district - from eight in 2005 to 41 (this year) all with enough classrooms, laboratories and desks.
"This is a great achievement because parents support government's efforts in building more schools equipped with enough teachers and classrooms" Mr Peter Toima, Rombo District Commissioner, says. Mr Toima compares his current role in Rombo to Ukerewe and Tunduru
districts where he worked before; saying people in Rombo are development- conscious. Rombo district has two "A" level secondary schools which are government owned, compared to three which run by parents' wing of the ruling CCM and the Catholic Church respectively.
According to Mr Toima each secondary school in Rombo has an average of 10 teachers, and in total the district has 355 secondary school teachers. If the district could get more 365 teachers, then the district could have enough teachers for its schools. Despite this shortage, Mr Toima explains the immediate measures that have been taken by the district to solve the problem of teachers. He says the district has established a special agreement with some universities and teacher training colleges throughout the country, whereby the district gets Block Teaching Practices (BTP) teachers from them every year.
"This year we had students from Dar es Salaam University College of Education (DUCE) who spent several months teaching in different secondary schools in the district" says Mr Toima, adding that they had been helpful to students and others have even promised to come and teach in Rombo after graduating. There is a special arrangement whereby students from Rombo district studying in different colleges in the country are engaged in teaching practices during holidays. This trend has reduced the problem of teachers in most ward secondary schools, according to the DC.
But why is Rombo district is a step further in education than other districts? Certainly, the availability of teachers' houses helps a lot in retaining teachers in the district. Though ward schools strive to erect teachers' quarters, private houses with good facilities like electricity, water and toilets are also rented at affordable fees. "People from Rombo District who work in urban areas like Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Moshi and Dodoma have constructed good houses which they occupy only during Christmas time.
These houses are rented by teachers and other civil servants working in the district" says Mr Toima. The district's administration is pleased to see how ward secondary schools perform, compared to old secondary schools such as Lyamungo, Moshi, Machame, Ashira, Moshi Technical and Weruweru secondary schools. For example, the 2009 national form four examination results, Kisale- a ward secondary school in Rombo district led the chart in all government secondary school.
Almost half of the candidates were selected to join Form Five. Mr Toima explains that the Kilimanjaro National Park (TANAPA) in collaboration with Rombo District Council have entered into an agreement where the former will support the construction of a laboratory at Kisale secondary school and a social hall at Olele secondary school. Another area of concentration where Rombo District authorities have laid strong foundations is the improvement of primary schools.
Registration of Standard One pupils has gone down in Rombo district from 68, 459 in 2005 to 57,040 in 2010, thanks to family planning education programme that has enabled an ordinary family to have three children this year compared to five in 2005. Thus, primary school enrollment has gone down from 106 per cent in 2005 to 99 per cent this year. The total number of teachers has gone up in the district from 1,347 in 2005 to 1,460 this year. Teachers' houses have increased from 133 in 2005 to 230 this year.
What pleases many residents in Rombo district is that the total number of students selected to join Form One has increased from 68 per cent in 2005 to 100 per cent in 2010, thanks to ward leaders that have constructed an average of two secondary schools in every ward. This means all pupils who are selected to join form one in the district can find space in ward secondary schools. A special district committee is foreseeing the implementation of this mandate.
Performance of secondary school students in Rombo is expected to double when Marangu-Tarakea- Kamwanga road is completed. It will enable students and teachers arrive at school on time. The construction is near completion. Basil Mramba, the incumbent MP for Rombo constituency and vying for re-election the ruling CCM ticket,is optimistic that the ward secondary schools in Rombo District will soon improve, through a plan to build laboratories in all schools.
His rival Joseph Selasini who is contesting the same seat on CHADEMA ticket says he has plans to get the district more teachers if he wins the October 31, 2010 general elections.
Rombo remains one of the districts in the country whose people are development-conscious with plans to improve people's socio-economic conditions.