There are significant improvements in education sector of Tanzania particularly in achieving universal primary education. From 2001 Tanzania waived primary school fees. This one factor has enabled the country to achieve the Millennium Development Goal 2 by 93% (World Bank, 2012). The expansion of education has contributed to the rise of primary education enrollment but also raised questions about the quality of education provided. This blog post is going to point out the challenges facing education sector at local level in Tanzania. It is about ground experience in a rural ward (Machame North B- in Kilimanjaro Hai District) meeting with one agenda- education school. The meeting included teachers, local councilor, district education officers, village government, school committees, and members of the public. The aim of the meeting was to discuss issues in the village schools. The motivation for such a crucial meeting stem from the poor standard seven results.
One of the impressing things of the meeting is that, the community at large knew the issues of education and their school. This was evident from the contribution and in general discussions. Below I will discuss some of the issues that were pointed out:
Inadequate food: It was pointed pupils are not fed properly at home and in school. Lack of food to children is the main cause for deterioration of education. They cannot concentrate. The problem starts at home when they do not eat properly or at all, and when they get to food is also scarce or unavailable. The reasons for the lack of food include social-economic changes, which are taking place such as women going to work very early in the morning hence children find no one to feed them in the morning before they go to school. Also, some parents have been reluctant to contribute for the school lunch.
Poor relation among parents, teacher and pupils: the relationship among these three key stakeholders has deteriorated causing a major setback in the quality of education provided. Parents have failed to give teachers enough support to enable them to deliver their duty to students; instead parents have been demoralizing teachers by aligning with pupils to attack teachers when they do their responsibility. Furthermore, the fact that parents align with pupils encourages truancy. This discourages teachers. It kills their motivation hence leading to poor delivery of quality education.
Inadequacy of funds and materials: This hampers provisions of teaching aids, training and seminars for teachers, books, sports facilities, water, and electricity. The lack of sport facilities, for example, makes pupils dormant and inactive in and out of the class. Lack of teachers training and seminars makes teaching difficult especially on new subjects such as ICT where teachers need to be constantly trained considering the consequent pedagogical implications of ICT.
Another aim of the meeting was to discuss ways through which the community will raise standard and quality of education. Members of the meeting came up with the following recommendations:
Food plan: in order to curb the food problem community members came up with a food plan that will enable pupils to have sufficient food throughout the year. They decided to make enough storage for each school in the locality that will be enough to store food to the next season of harvest. They also decided that food will be collected during the harvest period instead of collecting during the start of the year when there is shortage of food. Also during the harvest period the food prices are low and hence it cheaper for parents to contribute food for schools.
Disciplining parents: the meeting made a resolution that all non-committal parents should be summoned by the village government for disciplinary sessions. This resolution focused more on the root cause (parent) who also has the power to change things rather than punishing a pupil who is often not in control of his/her problem. A pupil, for example, should not be suspended out of class or sessions because his/her parents failed to supply exercise books or other related payments. The resolution came about after discovering that troublesome parents are not the poorest. This resolution takes the burden away from the teacher and pupil and places it upon the parent and the local government. Thus the teacher and pupil can concentrate on education.
Public education: lastly the meeting agreed to have public education for adults and parents on the importance of education and their role in enhancing education quality in the locality. This measure will be instrumental in dealing with ignorance of parents, and community members. The value of education will never be the same when this education goes to the public members of the local community.
To sum up, challenges facing education at local level in Tanzania can be alleviated by the community. The community only needs mobilization and leadership. Such meetings enable them to change perception, which is often the single most important change agent. Yes, the government can say primary education is free, but education is an expensive commodity. The fact that there are no fees should not be the reason for people not to contribute for the education of their children. People should contribute as much as they can so as to share the cost of education. This can be done through adequate food contribution, learning materials and teaching aid, sports facilities, among other related education needs. If community contributes, people’s hearts will be on education since they will have stored their treasures on it.