Education 'still a thorny issue' as polls draw closer

Dar es Salaam. A manifesto is defined as a published declaration of the intentions, motives or views of the issuer – be it an individual, group, political party or government.
So, political parties promise people to implement several things enshrined in their election manifestos if they are entrusted by the particular people, whom they lead.
During the 2015 General Election, CCM presidential candidate emerged victorious and his party’s manifesto was implemented by the government he formed in November 2015.
The education sector was one of the items that were mentioned in the CCM manifesto as when Dr Magufuli was elected to lead the country his government managed to implement key issues outlined in the manifesto.
The key issues include preparing a system, structure and crosscutting procedures of providing elementary and primary education (1+6+4) with the exclusion of school fees.
This resulted in increased registration of pre-school pupils from 45 percent in 2015 to 100 percent in 2020, as well as the increased registration of Standard One pupils from 95 percent in 2015 to 100 percent in 2020.
Besides that, the registration of Form One students increased from 60 percent in 2015 to 80 percent in 2020 without forgetting the Form Four pass mark that went up from 69.8 percent in 2015 to 90 percent in 2020.
The number of pupils joining Form One also increased from 55 to 100 percent.
Likewise, CCM in its manifesto pledged to end the problem of having competent teachers and lecturers, particularly for mathematics, languages, science, technology and vocational training subjects. The party’s manifesto also targeted to construct a J K Nyerere University for Agriculture and Allied Sciences at Butiama and to complete the construction of the University for Mineral Sciences (Shinyanga).
The party also promised to increase admissions at vocational training colleges from 150,000 students in 2015 to 700,000 students in 2020.
Over the issue of higher education, CCM pledged to increase student admissions at higher learning institutions as the number of admitted students at the institutions increased from the average of 60,000 students in 2015 to 117,000 students in 2020.  It also pledged to incorporate education stakeholders to help finance training education including giving loans and subsidies.
Section 52(o) of the CCM manifesto of 2015 clarifies on the party’s intention of establishing Teachers Commission that will supervise the development and interests of all the teachers in the country in disregard of their differences.
In his address to dissolve the 11th Parliament on June 16 this year, President Magufuli said the government’s many achievements were gained in the five years of his leadership, touching on different sectors including education, health, industry, water and infrastructures.
During the period, President Magufuli said the number of schools had increased from 16,899 in 2015 to 17,804 this year, and that the number of secondary schools had also increased from 4,708 in 2015 to 5,330.
The head of State also revealed that 73 old government secondary schools out of the operating 89 had undergone repairs by his government.
Likewise, President Magufuli said his government had managed to construct 253 dormitories and 227 school labs, and buy some 2,956 medical devices.
According to the president, the government has also increased the number of vocational education training colleges from 672 in 2015 to 712 in 2020.
President Magufuli also addressed that the budget of higher education student loans had been increased by his government from Sh348.7 billion in 2014/15 to Sh450 billion in the year 2019/20.
“Honourable MPs, I believe I’m not mistaken when I say a big job has been done in the education sector,” said President Magufuli while being applauded by the MPs.
Addressing Parliament for the 2020/21 Financial Year, Education, Science and Technology  minister Joyce Ndalichako listed things that had been implemented by the government in the 2019/20 financial year.
She said the Vocational Education Training Authority (Veta) had admitted 302,626 students taking short and long courses on workmanship, and out of the number, 112,453 were girl students, equivalent to 37 percent.
The new admission number has increased largely from that of 2015, which was 150,000 as the aim was to admit 700,000 students.
She added that her ministry had installed sophisticated equipment at workshops in Mtwara, Morogoro, Kihonda, and Arusha regions as the aim had been to offer more educational opportunities and expert workmanship training.
Prof Ndalichako added that the government, through the Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU) had coordinated 99,014 applications of students wishing to take up first degree studies in the 2019/20 academic year. Of the number, she said, 87,813 applicants had been admitted at different higher learning institutions in the country, being an increase in admission number from 60,000 in 2015 as the target was to reach the admission number of 117,000 students in 2020.
“The government, through the Higher Education Students’ Loans Board, dished out loans to 132,119 students until March, 2020 including 49,799 first year students and 82,320 students who continued with their studies as the aim is to provide higher learning opportunities to those in need of them,” she said.

Opposition parties mnifestos
During the 2015 polls, the opposition had also the education sector in their manifestos as they clarified different things that they would have implemented had they been given the mandate by Tanzanians to lead the country.
The 2015 ACT-Wazalendo manifesto said the quality of education in the country is fluctuating and there are many challenges which, if left unaddressed, will make the contribution of the education sector not to be realized. Chadema’s manifesto of 2015 put it clear that the provision of quality education for every Tanzanian from pre-school to university level will be financed by the government.
The opposition main party also promised to improve secondary, technological and expert workmanship education so to build self-employment capacity among students and also make them competent in the labour market.
The party’s manifesto also aimed at forming a commission or national education advisory council that would have comprised all education stakeholders.
The Civic United Front (CUF), for its part, pledged to be transparent about teachers’ employment, depending on the education needs. It also aimed at giving exams to teaching job-seekers so to ensure qualified teachers earned employment.
The CUF manifesto had also a plan of overhauling and running the education system in the country.
According to the CUF manifesto, this was to ensure there would have been the stable provision of quality education that matched with both the East African Regional and international standards so to help grow the talents of students and make them compete in the regional and international labour markets.

What others say
Speaking on the implementation of the election manifesto, Ruaha Catholic University (Rucu) lecturer Prof Gaudence Mpangala said the government had endeavored to manage the education sector by implementing the things that it pledged in 2015. Among the things, he said, was free education that helped many children, particularly in rural areas, to freely get registered for starting school.
Such a thing, he added, had helped push those poor parents to take their children to school.
“Free education is a very important thing that’s done by this government in the education sector. Many children now get registered to start school unlike in the past when they had to pay,” said Prof Mpangala.
However, HakiElimu executive director John Kalage called on the government to increase its budget in the education sector for the provision of quality education to all primary pupils and secondary students.
Kalage revealed that at least in three phases the education sector had been going down by 1 pecent every year.

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