Dar es Salaam. Key stakeholders in the education sector on Friday reiterated the need for the government to increase the budget set aside for the basic social service, a step they consider necessary if the five years education sector development plan (ESDP III) is to be successful and if the quality of Tanzania’s education is to be improved.
Stakeholders made the appeal in Dar es Salaam during a breakfast debate organised monthly by a local think tank Policy Forum.
Mr Makumba Mwemezi is a policy analyst from HakiElimu, a local non-profit that influences education policies pointed out that the education budget, as a proportion of the national budget, has been declining from 16 per cent in the financial year of 2016/17 to 13.7 per cent in the financial year 2022/23.
“According to [Tanzania’s] education sector plans and other international commitments we have entered as a country, the required proportion of the education budget to the national budget should be at least 20 per cent of the national budget,” Mr Mwemezi said.
The budget proposal presented recently in the parliament, which includes five-vote supplies, showed the government is expecting to spend Sh5.635 trillion in the education sector out of Sh41.1 trillion overall budget. Stakeholders see this amount as insufficient to boost the quality of education in the country.
In this financial year of 2022/23 in the education sector budget, the government has outlined some priorities which include reviewing laws, guidelines, curriculum and education and training policy of 2014; improving enrollment of school-age children, including those with special needs and increasing opportunities and quality education for primary, secondary and high learning education to mention few.
Stakeholders are worried that these priorities may not be realized if the education budget continues to be below the required 20 per cent of the national budget.
Stakeholders also identify other challenges facing the education sector in Tanzania. These include the unrealistic capitation grant rate that is provided to the primary and secondary school students, which currently stands at the rate of Sh10,000 and Sh25,000 per student in primary and secondary schools respectively.
This amount was set twenty years ago, and the experience shows that 40 per cent of it usually remained in the government’s hands instead of going directly to the schools, stakeholders noted.
The proposal put forward by observers of Tanzania’s education sector involves revisiting the capitation grant rates and improving them up to Sh23,000 per student in primary schools and Sh57,000 per student in secondary schools.
The proposal also includes the consideration of special needs students, schools locations and environment during setting rates of the capitation grant to ensure inclusivity.
A renowned educationalist in Tanzania Dr Richard Shukia highlighted the importance of the quality of teachers in ensuring the quality of education in the country, insisting that on-job training for teachers is vital among other things in improving the quality of teachers.
“We have a shortage of teachers,” Dr Shukia, who is a lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, said during the session. “But according to the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) report in the last five years, 80 per cent of teachers we have in primary and secondary schools have not attended on-job training due to lack of [sufficient] budget.”
Currently, the demand for teachers in the country in primary and secondary schools is 437,623 but only 259,808 are available, making a deficit of 40.6 per cent.
The government in the next financial year starting in July 2022 is planning to employ a total of 10,000 teachers for primary and secondary schools. This will reduce the deficit by just 2.3 per cent.
To solve the teacher shortage crisis, stakeholders want the government to employ at least 20,000 teachers in primary schools and 15,000 teachers in secondary schools per year.
They also want the government to look at investing more in technology in an attempt to bridge the teacher-student interaction gap.