17 January 2019

Tanzania: Let's End Polarisation With Talks -Mbatia

Dar es Salaam — The chairman of Tanzania Centre for Democracy (TCD), Mr James Mbatia, has said that President John Magufuli cannot dismiss the need for a national dialogue and reconciliation, warning that the current political polarisation does not portend a future of national unity the country.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Citizen on Monday during a visit to Mwananchi Communications Limited (MCL) offices in Tabata, Mr Mbatia, who doubles as the national chairman of the opposition NCCR-Mageuzi, said it was against that backdrop that he paid a visit to President Magufuli in November 2018.

"The crux of the issue here is the need to have a national dialogue that will lead us to a national consensus on how we should run the different aspects of our lives," said the Vunjo MP (NCCR-Mageuzi)

Mr Mbatia expressed deep worries on the future of the country as it prepares for the General Election one year from now, saying the prospects could not be gloomier. "You hear people are denied their basic constitutional rights to associate and express their opinions. Given those circumstances, I wonder what will transpire in the coming [general] election."

During the interview, Mr Mbatia took issue with the current system of education in the country, criticising it for making it difficult for realisation of the UN Sustainable Development Goal Number 4, which seeks to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education that promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all.

The lawmaker said the country's system of education was built on discriminative foundations that made it extremely difficult to ensure quality learning.

"The minister of education is alpha and omega of all issues pertaining to education in this country. She alone can give a directive, without consultation with anyone, on how education should be run and with total disregard of policy frameworks on education," said Mr Mbatia who has been an important voice in championing education reforms in the country.

Mr Mbatia complained that because of its discriminative nature, the country's education system had locked Tanzanians out of meaningfully taking part in regional and global competitions such as debates, sports, literary works and other areas. He blamed all that on what he claimed to be a myriad weaknesses in the formulation and implementation of the education policy.

"Here in Tanzania, our children have been used as samples of experimentation," added Mr Mbatia in relation to books published by the Tanzania Institute of Education (TIE) which have been complained to be full of errors something which forces TIE to remove them and publish new ones.

"They publish very poisonous books," Mr Mbatia complained. "But this should not surprise anyone for the truth is [the TIE] do not even have editors who could have spotted these errors and rectify them."

Mr Mbatia pointed out that education entails having a thorough understanding of the value of humanity and advised the government to stop entertaining selfishness and work on recommendations made to improve the quality of education in the country so as to achieve that end.

Tanzania

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