19 August 2016

Tanzania: More 'Boom' for Free Education

Photo: Mohamed Mambo/Daily News
President John Magufuli shares a light moment with three Bunge Primary School pupils.

Mwanza Simiyu — Funds for free education have been increased from 18.77bn/- per month to 21bn/-, with Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa directing intensive verification to unearth ghost pupils and students in public schools.

Mr Majaliwa directed District Commissioners (DCs), District and Regional Education Officers to conduct a special inspection in schools countrywide in a move aimed at ensuring that the money does not end in individual pockets.

"Each month, the government has been dishing out funds to facilitate free education for all; but now we have started to realise that there are phantom pupils and students," he said adding: "All DCs, DEOs and REOs should go and make routine inspection and audit to identify fake pupils and students."

The directive also comes amid reports that almost all heads of schools in Simiyu Region have been demoted in connection with ghost learners in public schools. The premier issued the directive yesterday when he met Ilala District Council leaders and staff in Dar es Salaam.

"If you spot any contradiction on the number of pupils and students in schools, you should get out of your offices and visit the respective schools to make proper verifications of the figures delivered to you," he added.

Earlier, in a press conference held in Dodoma, the government announced that effective this month, the increased budget (21bn/-) will also see secondary school headmasters/ mistresses earning 250,000/- allowances while primary school head teachers will pocket 200,000/- per month.

The Minister of State in the President's Office, Regional Administration and Local Authority, Mr George Simbachawene, said the 21bn/- capitation grant will cater for subsidy for running cost of primary and secondary schools and teachers' allowances.

The minister said the allowance is meant to motivate the teachers as they execute their noble task, taking into account the challenges facing the education sector.

Moreover, he said, his ministry has purchased more than 1,000 motorcycles to be distributed to ward education officers to facilitate them discharge their duties quickly and smoothly.

He said the government has decided to supply motorcycles to all ward education officers countrywide.

He expressed the government commitment to ensure that they invest heavily in education to enable many Tanzanians, regardless of one's income enjoy the services offered.

Mr Simbachawene called upon the community to have the same morale in contributing school desks as well as be active in construction of classrooms and teachers' housing units in their respective areas.

In Simiyu, the Regional Commissioner, Mr Anthony Mtaka, has ordered the demotion of 140 heads of public secondary schools in the region as other 516 head teachers of the primary schools after they were implicated in the ghost pupil/ student scam.

Confirmed reports from the region said the RC took the action after it was discovered that almost all the secondary school heads were implicated in the financial rip-off following a probe that found out 2,137 'ghost' students were included in the provision of capitation grants disbursed to the schools.

According to Mr Mtaka, all the district councils, except Bariadi, were found with ghost students, with Itilima District being found with 2,137 students, Busega District Council 110 students, Maswa District Council 14 students and Meatu District Council 121 students.

It was in the report that more than 10m/- were every month paid to ghost students as capitation grants while the investigation in all primary schools is still going on with early findings indicating there were some cheating as well.

"It is due to these preliminary findings that I have ordered that all heads of the secondary schools should be demoted with immediate effect and strict scrutiny be carried forward to those who will take over their positions," said the RC.

As a result of the findings for the secondary schools, Mr Mtaka said such action awaited all the head teachers in all 516 primary schools in the region as soon as the schools complete the Primary School Leaving Examinations scheduled for October.

Following the revelations, the RC has instructed the Regional Administrative Secretary, Mr Jumanne Sagini, to institute administrative measures as soon as possible that will see the demoted school heads leaving their offices and undertaking their role as ordinary teachers.

As if that was not enough, another probe will be directed on education coordinators and education officers; regional wise, who in one way or another were involved in the scam or failed to report to the authorities on the misappropriation of the funds in question.

Last month, Mr Mtaka ordered thorough investigations over the possibility of the schools in the region having ghost students by carrying out strict scrutiny of all the students in the registers against those in classrooms.

The action came in the wake of some of the school heads submitting doubtful numbers of students, which indicated the possibility of enrolment of ghost workers for the sake of obtaining money illegally.

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