DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzanian students for eons had no say over one of the most important stages of their lives - choosing a university and a course to pursue.
The mandate and final say into it laid with the Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU), that had to peruse through a list of alternatives to allocate a student, an institute of learning. Light, however, seems to shine at the end of a dark tunnel for students as all this is about to change.
President John Magufuli has called for change of mandate of TCU into a regulatory authority, to allow students make their choices to correctly shape their lives and live their dreams.
He made the remarks, in Dar es Salaam, while launching new student hostels for the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) - Mwalimu Nyerere Campus, with the capacity to accommodate 3,840 students.
Dr Magufuli said it was high time TCU gave freedom to students, instead of forcing them into universities that have no capacity to accommodate them.
"The time has come for TCU to deal only with setting standards and leave students to choose universities they wish to be enrolled in, there is no need to force them to go to universities they don't like," he said.
Moreover, he said, though he was not certain of kind of business going on at TCU, there were some university leaders who have been contacting TCU and luring them into allocating more students to their colleges, even if they do not have the capacity.
"Let students be free. I want standards of our universities to be maintained, thus we should be careful on how we operate. The issue is not having many colleges but the output matters a lot," he elaborated. He also promised that students will be charged 500/- instead of 800/- per day as rentals for them to enjoy living on campus.
President Magufuli explained that he contacted foreign contractors for the construction of the hostels and they pegged the price at 150bn/-, before settling for local ones. "Tanzanians should strive to utilise local contractors because they are cheaper and execute quality work compared to expensive foreign construction firms," he said.
He added that some Tanzanians still believe that anything good must be done by foreigners. The new hostel should be a great lesson to all those who doubt local experts as they have shown that they can do tremendous job.
President Magufuli earned his Bachelor of Science in Education Degree, majoring in chemistry and mathematics as teaching subjects in 1988. He also earned his master's and doctorate degrees in chemistry in 1994 and 2009, respectively.
He earned all his degrees with the University of Dar es Salaam. "I understand all the challenges and problems faced by both students and the university.
The President also said he was waiting for a report of government employees with fake certificates, so that various measures can be taken, he said there were more than 9,000 officials with forged certificates.
Earlier, briefing the President on the project, UDSM Vice-Chancellor, Prof Rwekaza Mukandara said that through funds from its sources and contributions from Mlimani City Mall investor, they have been able to make 1,920 beds, 1,920 cupboard, 1,920 shelves, 1,920 tables, 3,840 chairs and bought 3,840 mattresses.
"As promised, we also erected a fence around the hostels for security reasons and the job was done by Suma JKT," he noted. He further said the UDSM administration will ensure all important services such as cafeteria, dispensary, shops and police post are available in the area, adding that they have already commenced constructing a cafeteria that will accommodate 500 students at once.
The Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training, Prof Joyce Ndalichako, said the hostels will effectively address accommodation challenges facing UDSM students, asking them to take care of the facilities for future generations.
The country's oldest university and home to over 20,000 students has been using infrastructure built in the mid- 1960s and early 1970s. Water and sewerage systems do not work effectively any longer while roads and dormitories are in pathetic conditions.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK