Tanzania: Fresh Details Emerge On University of Dodoma

Fresh details emerged yesterday on the expulsion of about 7,000 University of Dodoma (UDOM) students, with the trend indicating persistence of 'ghost students' owing to "poor oversight" in admission procedures.

Addressing the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) community, including the administration and students, President John Magufuli said preliminary findings have shown that the majority of UDOM students who were admitted to pursue a special Diploma in Science (Education) did not possess required qualifications.

"About 7,802 students were admitted to the public university.

This was in contrast with the recommendation by a don, Professor Kitila Mkumbo that admission should not exceed 1,800 students," the president observed. Unfortunately, he went on, the university's administration went on to recruit more students, including those who attained Division Three and Four with a few ones among the Division One and Two achievers.

The president, who appeared to be irritated by the situation, told the gathering that the "university's Vice- Chancellor, Professor Idris Kikula, was dragged to allow such enrolment".

According to Dr Magufuli, such decision compromised enrolment of students selected to 10 teacher training colleges countrywide as the institutions found themselves short of students.

It has been earlier announced by Education, Science and Technology Minister Professor Joyce Ndalichako that the decision to order the students to return home followed a move by some lecturers to lay down tools.

While the decision by the government to send home students was described as appropriate under the circumstances, it was criticised by some opposition MPs. But giving fresh details yesterday, the president said some dishonest people in positions of authority were pushing their disqualified children to pursue high learning education at the expense of the government.

This caused qualified students from poor families to end their academic career. "We cannot tolerate this. There was no excuse. It was appropriate to send all of them back home. Prof Mkumbo had issued a positive advice and I think it's high time we stopped politicking on matters of such greater national concern," he emphasized.

Dr Magufuli announced explicitly that some of the expelled students were children of civil servants and government leaders, adding that fresh screening will be conducted to determine qualified students who will be admitted to other higher learning institutions.

"We have put on hold all higher education loans for UDOM pending thorough scrutiny of all the beneficiaries," he said, lauding Prof Ndalichako for her commitment in improving the quality of education in the country. Just recently, the minister had suspended Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU) Executive Secretary Professor Yunus Mgaya and four other senior officials for failing to take action against ghost students.

She further expelled 489 students at the privately owned St Joseph University of Tanzania, who were admitted despite failing their secondary education exams. In his stand, the president said he is committed to clear all ghost workers now standing at 10,500 and the emerging ghost students across the country.

The government has so far injected 349.6bn/- to the Higher Education Students Loans Board (HESLB). The initiative has thus benefited 124,358 students - up from 98,300 last year.

Source: Tanzania Daily News.