Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

2 February 2013

Tanzania: Opposition MPs Stage Parliamentary Walkout

Dodoma — OPPOSITION Members of Parliament on Friday walked out of Parliament's debating chamber in protest of a move by Deputy Speaker Job Ndugai, not to grant a request by Mr James Mbatia (Nominated-NCCR-Mageuzi) to postpone winding up of his private motion until the state submits secondary and primary school curricula.

Mr Ndugai said it was the discretion of the chair to agree or disagree to a request by an MP to postpone a motion and chose the latter after a fierce debate mostly on standing orders.When push came to shove, the Minister of State (PMO-Parliamentary Affairs and Coordination), Mr William Lukuvi promised that the government would bring to the august House the requested curricula before this session ends.

But that was not enough to ease tensions in the House as Mr Mbatia stood his ground while receiving support from opposition legislators."I have been labelled a liar in this House because I said that there is no official curriculum, before I give concluding remarks about my private motion, I would like the minister to show us the curricula," he said.

Earlier, the Minister for Education and Vocational Training, Dr Shukuru Kawambwa told the Parliament that the government will work on all weaknesses outlined in Mr Mbatia's motion.He also promised to probe into the activities of the Educational Materials Approval Committee (EMAC) and once it is established that there have been gross failures, it would be disbanded and other appropriate actions would be taken.

He also assured Parliament that the state will submit the education and training policy in the House in the next session in April, this year."We have been working on the review of the policy for a long time to ensure that we come out with the best policy and have the education that is best for the country," he said.

The minister observed that despite the will to improve the education sector in the country, funds allocated for the same are almost always not enough, not that more needs to be spent on the education."We cannot improve the education sector without financial resources. I implore all MPs to assist in finding alternative means to finance the sector," he said.

On Thursday, Parliament docked a private motion tabled by Mr Mbatia to form a select committee and investigate serious weaknesses in the country's education sector.Instead, legislators voted to deliberate on a counter motion presented by Dr Kawambwa that asked Parliament to allow the state to take into consideration issues raised by Mbatia, as it is reviewing the education and training policy.

The vote by Members of Parliament came after a battle of wits on issues surrounding standing orders, with those from the opposition claiming that docking Mr Mbatia's motion was against the orders, while those from the ruling party supported the minister's motion.In his motion, Mr Mbatia raised serious concerns in three main areas in the country's education sector which he named as education policy, lack of official curricula for secondary and primary education and weaknesses in approving learning and teaching materials for secondary and primary schools.

He also took swipe at the Educational Materials Approval Committee (EMAC) for failing to deliver on its duties and allowed the influx of mediocre learning and teaching materials in the country, which do not serve the intended purpose of educating and enlightening students and pupils.

To his point home, he read excerpts from books that contained too many obvious errors, yet they were still approved by EMAC.He accused of possible embezzlement of 13 million US dollars that was given in the form of assistance by South Carolina State University through USAID, after Tanzania had requested for assistance for science and mathematics books.

"Education is the heartbeat of any nation, if the heartbeat is abnormal it might lead to demise of a nation," he said.He also noted that weaknesses in the education sector have led to many failures in other sectors.

To look into the weaknesses and shortcomings in the sector, he proposed that Parliament form a select committee to "probe the depth of the problem in the education system and where possible the committee should recommend courses of action to rid the nation of the problem."

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