FORMER President Benjamin Mkapa has warned that without massive investment in technical and vocational trainings Tanzania will remain over-dependent on foreign technicians.
"We have no shortcut other than investing in technical and vocational trainings from where we can groom future engineers and technicians, otherwise we will not deny the over-dependency on foreign experts," he said.
Mr Mkapa was officiating at the 5th graduation ceremony of the Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology (DIT) in Dar es Salaam on Saturday where some 537 students graduated in various levels.
"We have already increased tremendously the number of pupils and students in primary and secondary schools, thus there are many students who would like to join technical and vacational training every year calling for a need to expand our capacity," he noted.
Mr Mkapa pointed out that the ratio of students undergoing vocational training in Tanzania is very poor as it stands at 1:1,618.
"Here in Tanzania the ratio of students per the population remains poor at 1:1,618 while a country like Zimbabwe has a ratio of 1:248," he said.
The former president further noted that vocational and technical training remain major forces behind the economic growth of any country. He named countries like, Japan, Australia and Korea among others as a vivid example. According to him, poor technological developments have also led to poor revenue that the country receives from its experts as most of the exported goods are unprocessed.
"Tanzania is ranked number three in as far as livestock keeping is concerned but due to lack of processing industries which is also caused by poor technology, we earn too little through exported leather when compared to others," he said. Mr Mkapa, however, commended the government's move to put the leather college of Mwanza under the leadership of DIT, saying that the move will bring positive changes as experts in leather processing will be produced.
He also called on the government to ensure a suitable environment for graduates in technical and vocational training colleges to employ themselves. Earlier, the DIT Principle, Dr John Kondoro called on the government to support the institute in reconstruction of its 50 years old physical infrastructure which is now in a bad condition.
"We thank the government for minor renovation which has been undertaken to some of our infrastructures but the problem remains big and alarming, we call for increased support," he said. Prof Kondoro noted that the institute's hostels have become too small to accommodate the increased number of students and that on top of that are also ramshackle.
Meanwhile, Mr Mkapa is on Sunday leaving for Geneva, Switzerland, to chair the 28th meeting of the Board of the South at his capacity as the chairman of the South Centre. The South Centre is a permanent intergovernmental organization of the developing countries established by intergovernmental treaty in 1995. It is currently made up of 52 member countries.
Following the journey, Mr Mkapa who is also the Former Chairman of Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) will miss the party's 35th anniversary celebrations to be marked at national level in Mwanza Region on February 5. According to a statement released by his office, while in Geneva, Mr Mkapa will also participate in the 13th Meeting of the Council of Representatives of the South Centre Conference on the state of global economy and reflection on recent multilateral negotiations.