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Invest more in teachers’ skills, motivation

Debating the 2022/23 budget proposals for the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in the National Assembly, MPs said educators were trained in curriculum tied to prevailing education policy now being extensively reviewed, they too must be exposed to new skills to adjust to changes , and be remunerated accordingly.

Margaret Sitta (Urambo) said the provision of quality education requires availability of students, teachers and infrastructure, noting that the country had done well so far in infrastructure and the students are there, and it’s time to invest more in teachers.

Mussa Sima (Singida Urban) said the government has done a commendable job in education infrastructure that must now be complemented by human resource development.

“We should not invest in infrastructure for now; let’s invest more in capacity building for teachers,” he said. “The ministry recently introduced digital marking technology while teachers (markers) are not digitally literate,” he asserted.

The ministry prepares teaching and learning resources for approval by the President’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Governments), lacking close understanding of challenges facing teachers, he stated.

The government went ahead and introduced competence based education but its implementation was promised on the knowledge basis approach, he affirmed, pointing at the likelihood of a further fall in the quality of our education “if these issues are not addressed.”

Sitta, earlier a teacher by profession and serving as education minister in the past, said there are administrative issues that make teachers’ lives difficult. Apart from lack of training and other incentives, teachers in the country work in a difficult environment, with multiple supervisory agencies.

The teachers’ employer is the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) located in the President’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Governments) the commission has no power over most issues affecting educators.

“TSC hires but it can’t fire, handling only disciplinary issues. It should be made an efficient one-stop center for teachers,” she said.

Sitta also recommended that school inspection duty should not be left to quality assurance department considering the fact that there are thousands of primary, secondary schools as well as teachers’ training colleges. “Inspection responsibility should be handled by an independent body with powers to inspect even private schools,” she said.

Dr Charles Kimei (Vunjo) said that as Tanzania is set to adopt new ways of teaching and learning focusing on vocational skills, a major challenge meriting urgent attention is technology, whose rapid advance has left teachers’ skills far behind.

Saashisha Mafuwe (Hai) said Tanzania was supposed to rewrite her post-independence history and affirm a national development vision before reviewing its education curriculum. As a curriculum review is already underway, it must focus on developing talents and problem-solving skills for learners, I have stated.

One stumbling block to talent and career development is the method of issuing loans to higher education students, as it compels some learners to change their preferred career choices. A student who is passionate about engineering changes to education in order to access the loan, he said in illustration.

Dr Pius Chaya (Manyoni East) pointed at minimum higher education entry qualification for foreign students as prohibitive as it locks out qualified foreign students.

“We have a problem caused by TCU (Tanzania Commission for Universities) guidelines. A Kenyan student who completed form four for instance, cannot be admitted for a degree program in Tanzania,” I observed.

“This lowers our universities’ ratings internationally. While we are supposed to have a diversity of students with about three per cent being foreign students, we have less than per cent,” he added.

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