3 February 2013

Tanzania: More Call for Curricula Overhaul

Dodoma — VARIOUS stakeholders have added their voice on the private motion presented in the Parliament on Friday on the curricula and state of Tanzanian education saying the government needs to seriously revisit and improve the sector.

Parliamentary Chairperson and MP for Peramiho Jenista Mhagama, told the 'Sunday News' yesterday that the nation's education curricula needed major overhaul to meet present demands.

She said MPs regardless of their ideological differences should face the government and ask it to work on the stakeholders' views on the country's education setup including a need to improve teaching and learning environments.

"We are obliged to make sure the government acts swiftly on the matter and this has to start with reviewing the education policy which will then accommodate the recommended changes," she said. Other stakeholders included an activist, Mr Hebron Mwakagenda, who said for the last ten years the government has been randomly changing education curriculums which was not healthy to the nation's educational development struggles.

But on her side, Ms Agness Hokororo, the District Commissioner for Ruangwa in Lindi Region and formerly a teacher, said more researches are needed to show how present curricula have failed to deliver expected results to the country. "Scientific findings are needed to guide us on whether to abolish the current education curriculums or just improve them to match with today's world needs and that can be done amicably without excessive pressure," she remarked.

Meanwhile, the walk out by opposition legislators on Friday has received mixed reactions with those in the ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) saying it was immature. Those in the opposition, however, defended the decision by fellow MPs to walk out in protest after the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Job Ndugai, decided not to allow postponement of Mr James Mbatia's motion.

When asked for his opinion, Dr Kebwe Kebwe (Serengeti-CCM) said that it was not right for the opposition MPs to walk out as representatives of the people, labelling the action as immature.

"When you go to battle you are supposed to fight till the end and not give up easily, in essence Mr Mbatia's motion was right, but they didn't have to walk out because we are guided by standing orders," he said. The same was repeated by Ms Rita Kabati (Special Seats-CCM) who said it's a fallacy when people's representatives walkout of the House.

She said that when President Jakaya Kikwete addressed the first session of the 10th Parliament the opposition walked out but later went to the State House to apologise, which only goes to show their immaturity. Interviewed parliamentarians especially from the opposition, said the walkout was the only option for them to express resentment over the decision which they did not support.

The former Head of Opposition in the House, Mr Hamad Rashid Mohamed, (CUF-Wawi) said he did not expect the government to play-down the serious debate on ways to resuscitate the education sector currently marred with ambiguities. "Obviously some weaknesses have been noticed in the education sector.

The debate was meant to focus on the common agenda and we expected the government to absorb wisdom from legislators to make a difference," he said, adding: "There was no confrontation as it happens in other countries or ill-intention in the whole agenda other than helping the nation. It was absolutely right to walk out to signify disapproval.

Education is the lifeline of the nation and should be taken seriously," Rashid remarked. On his part, the National Chairman of the Tanzania Labour Party, Augustino Mrema, MP TLP - Vunjo said the fact that Education Minister Dr Shukuru Kawambwa failed to present the 2005 Education Curriculum that he claimed to have in his possession and the Deputy Speaker's move to turn down the request by James Mbatia, MP (Nominated -NCCR - Mageuzi) who moved the private motion in the House, walkout was the only option.

"It was disappointing for the minister to say that the document will be presented in the House next week while the ministry was aware of the private motion well in advance. Members of Parliament both from the opposition and some from CCM proposed formation of a special probe team to investigate various drawbacks and come up with sound recommendations on the best way forward.

The government must be serious on this matter," Mrema suggested. He also questioned the legality for spending more than 20bn/- for printing primary and secondary school books in Kenya and for typesetting in Malaysia while the job could have successfully been accomplished in the country. "This is not the right way to spend money in the education sector," Mrema said.

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