Tanzania: School Desk Initiative Pays Off

As the government insisted yesterday on the deadline in dealing with the shortage of school desks countrywide, the Prime Minister, Mr Kassim Majaliwa, said data collected by June 17 shows that primary schools have addressed the scarcity by 77 per cent while secondary schools registered 93 per cent compliance.

Moving a motion to adjourn the 11th session of Parliament here yesterday, Mr Majaliwa said the initiative taken by the government to deal with the shortage, following the free education policy starting January, this year, has met with positive response from well-wishers.

He said through contributions made by various institutions and communities, as of June 17 this year, 552,630 desks were received as he directed the Regional Administration and Local Government (Tamisemi) to give the final statistics by July 15.

The Premier said primary schools countrywide now boasted of 2,632,392 desks, which is 77 per cent of the actual need, which means that they now need 792,949 to meet the shortage.

As for secondary schools, Mr Majaliwa said they now face a shortage of 112,785 desks as they have managed to solicit 1,395,138, which have been received at secondary schools countrywide.

"The job done is commendable; 25 municipalities in 13 regions are done with the primary schools shortage while 46 municipal councils in 19 regions have done well their assignment as far as secondary school needs are concerned", he said.

He added that every change comes with a number of challenges like the free education policy introduced in January this year, noting that public primary and secondary schools all of a sudden found themselves with many pupils and students who had enrolled compared to limited capacities.

"The free education policy has been a blessing to many families. But the schools have found themselves with infrastructural challenges, including classrooms and desks," he told the House.

Mr Majaliwa said for primary schools, 1,896,584 pupils were enrolled for Standard One in January this year, which is a 36.7 increase compared to those registered in 2015.

In dealing with the challenges, the Premier told the House that between December 2015 and May this year, the government has given schools 94.2bn/- directly as capitation fee and subsidy for running the schools.

Moreover, he said, in addressing infrastructure challenges, the government will in 2016/17 financial year set aside 46.2bn/- through municipal councils budget. As for Higher Education Students Loan Board (HESLB), Mr Majaliwa said people with disabilities and orphans will be given priority in attaining the loans regardless of course programme.

He insisted that the government will come up with strong legal measures for loan defaulters so that at the end of the day majority can benefit from the scheme meant to serve as a revolving fund.

The prime minister observed that the government was aware of the importance of building a strong education base for having quality and standard education. "Therefore, it will improve its rules, regulations, policies and standards to reach the needed goals," he quipped.

However, he pointed out, to make all projects successful, the government will improve it revenue collection system so that 40 per cent of the development budget can be accommodated through local collection instead of depending on donors.

The prime minister took a swipe at the opposition MPs for their incessant boycotts of House sittings, advising them to exercise wisdom and rethink their decisions as they were not being fair to their voters.

He urged them to exercise political maturity. Mr Majaliwa informed the National Assembly that the Economic Crime and Corruption Division of the High Court of Tanzania will start its operations effective today.

He insisted on accountability among the youth, saying spending working hours in bars and pubs will not be entertained as he directed local government, district and regional authorities to ensure enforcement of the order.

Source: Tanzania Daily News