8 February 2013

Tanzania: Education Curriculum Valid, Says House

THE National Assembly has cleared the confusion that previously clouded the validity of the education curriculum presented in the House.

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Anne Makinda, has said that the document presented by the Minister for Education and Vocational Training, Dr Shukuru Kawambwa, was genuine and copies would be distributed to MPs for reference.

However, Mr James Mbatia, (Nominated MP - NCCR-Mageuzi) who moved a private motion in the House on January 30, this year, said that the document presented was not the one he demanded to see. "The government has played down my private motion undermining the seriousness of the need to improve the education system.

I asked for the 2005 curriculum derived from the education circular of 1997 not of 1998 as presented." The Speaker said the team had done a commendable job and the findings reveal that the text is proper and valid," Makinda explained.

The Deputy Speaker had appointed a six-member team of inquiry and detailed it to assess the genuineness of the curriculum, as required by Parliamentary Standing Orders 5 (1).

The legislators nominated for verification of the document were Margareth Sitta (CCM), Bernadetta Mshashu (CCM), Jabir Marombwe (CCM), Khalifa Khamis Khalifa (CUF), Israel Natse (Chadema) and Yahaya Kassim Issa (CUF). Mr Mbatia was also asked to work closely with the team for the anticipated results. However, Mbatia said during the assessment process the team pinpointed deficiencies in the document.

"I informed the team that the document was not genuine because it lacked the International Standard Book Number (ISBN); it is not signed by the Commissioner of Education and excluded Zanzibar while education is among the Union matters," Mbatia explained.

He said copies of the document presented which is the essence for preparation of the education syllabus are not available in relevant offices like the Directorate of School Inspections, Regional Administration and Local Government (TAMISEMI), Chief Education Officer, Heads of secondary schools and so on.

Conversely, the Minister for Education, Dr Shukuru Kawambwa, insisted that the curriculum presented was the right document and has been in place ever since. "It is not true that we never had a proper national education curriculum since Independence.

"This one presented here is genuine and cannot be disputed," Dr Kawambwa said. Asked to comment on the exclusion of Zanzibar as maintained by Mr Mbatia, the minister said primary and secondary school education is not a Union matter only that special agreement was reached for the Form Four National Exams to be the same. "The compulsory primary school education in the Mainland ends at Standard Seven, while in Zanzibar it ends at Form Two.

But when it comes to Education of Higher Learning, it becomes a Union matter," he explained. With regard to the document lacking official signature by the Commissioner of Education as well as the International Standard Book Number (ISBN), Kawambwa said internal (domestic) publications do not necessarily need ISBN and verification of the government document is more important than somebody's signature.

A heated debate ensued in the House last week when Mr Mbatia presented a private motion on ways to 'resuscitate' the education sector which includes the need for consistence in the education curriculum.

Arguments based on Mbatia's private motion attained a dramatic twist when legislators from the opposition decided to walk out in protest of continuation of the debate defiant of the appeal by the motion presenter to have the debate postponed pending clarification of issues of controversy. Copies of the document were distributed to the MPs for continuation of the debate.

"I am not interested in this kind of 'tug-ofwar' with the government as the most important thing is for the legislators to reach a consensus to deliberate seriously on ways to address challenges afflicting our education sector for the benefit of the nation and coming generations," he concluded.

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