Shortage of qualified lecturers in our higher learning institutions is cause for concern - and for which a lasting solution must be found soonest.
Admittedly, there are a myriad challenges in our education sector. But, this one on the shortage of quality lecturers threatens the competence of our graduates, and quality of research.
The Tanzania Higher Learning Institutions Trade Union estimates the shortage of academic staff in the country's higher education institutions at 44 percent.
This is worrisome, especially considering the ever-rising number of students enrolled in public and private universities yearly.
According to the Tanzania Commission for Universities, 949 academics were hired between 2019 and 2020. But, at the same time, there was an average of four percent increase in enrolments of students - to 206,305 - in one academic year alone.
In that regard, TCU banned 19 higher learning institutions from admitting new students in the 2017/18 academic year, and delisted over 75 courses at 22 universities. The crisis needs immediate solution if we want to produce competent graduates who can compete with graduates elsewhere in the world.
The Education ministry plans to provide scholarships to 1,000 academics to boost the number of lecturers.
That's well and good, we say. But the ministry needs to do more - if only because some academics are retiring, dying or ditching the profession for various reasons, including political appointments.
Producing a PhD degree holder is expensive, and may take up to 12 years. But we sorely need them. In that regard, the ministry should ensure that there is no crisis as Tanzanians pursue doctorate programmes.
The demand for quality lecturers is high, and it is this shortfall that has resulted in some of the few available staff to take up more than one job. Indeed, they might be trying to cater for the huge numbers of students enrolment, but questions remain over the quality of our education.
PAY COVID-19 WORKERS TIMELY
Reports that payments for some health-care workers in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in Dar es Salaam Region are being delayed raise concerns. As we reported yesterday, some of the workers complain that, for three months now, they have not been paid their dues for the job.
These include - but are not limited to - "nurses and information technology professionals" tasked with providing anti-Covid-19 information and education, as well as inoculation and preparing electronic vaccination certificates.
Reportedly, some of the service providers have proverbially been digging deep into their pockets to pay their fares to and from service-delivery points in the hope they would be refunded just as soon.
Apparently, this has not been happening - thereby putting the workers in a quandary, financial and otherwise.
There seem to be administrative hiccups here, with some officials claiming that payments are being processed. But three months is a rather long time for that.
This is especially when the workers are slap-bang in the middle of a war on the ravaging Covid-19 pandemic that has already infected more than 242 million people worldwide since it first erupted in December 2019, killing more than 4.9 million of them.
Such issues must be addressed promptly before they become a countrywide problem as we seek to surmount the pandemic soonest.