Free education to all from primary to secondary schools is the country's transformative move towards a learned society, visiting UK Minister of State for Africa has asserted.
Minister Rory Stewart who arrived in the country yesterday for a two-day state visit showered praises to fifth phase government, which is implementing the free education policy, which he described as 'revolutionary.'
Mr Stewart had a tour of Mkoani Primary School in Dar es Salaam where he had a firsthand experience on Tanzania's education.
Through UK aid, the British government is investing 150 million pounds (about 434bn/-) over an eight-year period, 2013 to 2020, in support of 566,000 Tanzanian children through primary and lower secondary education.
The funding focuses on improving quality of education for girls and children with disabilities. Speaking in an interview with journalists, Mr Stewart commended President John Magufuli for spearheading free education, enabling more children to access learning facilities.
"I really believe in education... without education, it's difficult to develop or improve one's life. Education is fundamental," Mr Stewart insisted.
He said Tanzania was on the right truck, noting that in some countries he had visited, only private schools were providing education, locking out children from poor families.
"We can say that Tanzania is transforming the education sector."The visiting minister also nodded to registered improvements in schools in the past five years, citing increased enrolment, improved reading skills and capacity building on teachers.
"Since (President John) Magufuli came in, the number of children coming to school has increased tremendously, there are more girls in schools, the reading skills have improved, teachers have undergone training courses and the quality of learning has improved as well," argued the visiting minister.
He added, "I'm proud of the strong partnership between UK and Tanzania to increase access to basic education. It has been a great pleasure to learn of recent improvements in performance at the school and hear directly from teachers, parents and students.
With UK aid, I hope to see more improvements in all Tanzanian schools." He said the UK government was ready to collaborate with Tanzania to ensure school children especially in rural areas have access to high quality education.
The minister explained that his government spends nearly 220 million US dollars annually on education in Tanzania, adding that plans are underway to provide incentives to teachers based on improved quality of education at their respective schools.
The School Head Teacher, Ms Jane Mganwa, commended the government for the free education, reducing the burden on parents. "This system has also increased students' enrolment, from 70 pupils enrolled last year to 119, this year," she said.
The School Committee Chairman, Mr Adrian Kabopile, said despite the good performance, the school faces various challenges, including insufficient latrines and old infrastructure that needs refurbishment. Mtakuja Primary school in Ilala District has 722 pupils, with 26 teachers.