Free education pledge pays dividends
President John Magufuli revealed yesterday that primary school enrolment has increased by 84.5 per cent after the government fulfilled its pledge of bankrolling free education from primary to secondary level.
Speaking during the function to hand over more than 60,000 desks to Members of Parliament (MPs), President Magufuli stated that pupil enrolment has soared from 1,282,000 in 2015 to 1,896,584 pupils in 2016. He reiterated the government's intention to offer free and quality education to all Tanzanian children, stressing that his administration would make sure that the goal is achieved.
Dr Magufuli noted that the rise in enrolment (85pc) has created a shortage of 1,400,000 desks against over one million desks that had been made to offset the shortage. The president further noted that the education sector was facing many challenges, including shortage of desks, classrooms, staff houses and many more, which the government and education stakeholders are laying strategies to find lasting solutions to.
"It is quite clear that there are many challenges facing the education sector. We are doing everything in our power to resolve them," he pledged. According to President Magufuli, available desks for primary schools account for 88 per cent while those for secondary schools account for 96 per cent.
He added that 25 councils in the country had already reached target in making desks for primary schools while 46 councils have succeeded to reach target in making desks for secondary schools. Earlier, Deputy Speaker, Dr Tulia Ackson said MPs were aware of the challenges facing the education sector.
She said the Speaker's office through the Parliamentary Service Commission set criteria for providing desks to various constituencies in the country and that both sides of the union will benefit from the support.
She said in the first phase at least 15 regions will receive desks and the remaining regions will get their shares in the second phase. More than 60,000 desks will be distributed to at least 15 regions.
They include Dar es Salaam (5370), Coast Region (4833) and Morogoro (5907). Others include Lindi (4296), Mtwara (5370), Ruvuma (4833), Iringa (3759), Njombe (3222), Mbeya (3759) and Songwe (3222). Others in the list are Ruche (2685), Katavi (2685), Unguja (3200) Pemba (1800) and Tanga (6444).
The opposition leaders, including MPs, commended the government's move to cut down the shortage of desks in various schools, saying it will enable children to acquire knowledge in conducive environments.
Dar es Salaam City Mayor Issaya Charles commended the government for embarking on campaign to resolve the shortage of desks in the country. He asked the head of state to extend the campaign to the construction of classrooms and teachers' houses.
"I would like to use this opportunity to congratulate the head of state for his efforts to improve education sector in the country. I'm also asking him to continue with this spirit by building more classrooms and improve teachers' benefits," he said.
Mr Peter Msigwa (Iringa Urban-Chadema), said no single MP was against the government's move to end shortage of desks in various schools in the country."We're all supporting this move because it is all about development, this is a good thing," he stressed.
However, Mr Msigwa defensively said he had attended the function as an MP and member of the Parliamentary Service Commission. Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr Paul Makonda, said the Head of State has paved the way for all leaders to play their part in bringing about development in the country.
"We are very happy to see opposition leaders here today, this must be the spirit, we must work together to bring positive changes in this country," he said.
Mr Makonda added that so far there was a shortage of 7,514 classrooms for primary schools and more than 8,000 classrooms for secondary schools in Dar es Salaam. President Magufuli cemented Mr Makonda's avowal, saying there should be room for political parties when it comes to implementation of development programmes.
"We must work together to bring about development for all Tanzanians, these school children who sit down or study under trees know nothing about political parties, they are just Tanzanians," he added. On April 11, President Magufuli received 6bn/-, which was saved after the National Assembly reduced its expenditure for four months.