In their budget proposals for 2007-2008, Kenya and Tanzania pledged to boost spending on education and health, while Uganda set aside funds for rehabilitating the conflict-ravaged north, where internally displaced persons (IDPs) are returning to their villages.
Finance ministers of the three countries made the pledges when they simultaneously unveiled their national budgets on 14 June.
Tanzanian Finance Minister Zakia Meghji announced substantial increases in spending on education, health and infrastructure: "Those sectors have a great impact on poverty reduction," said Meghji.
About 18 percent of the country's budget would be spent on education, 12.8 percent on roads and 10 percent on health, while 6.2 percent would fund agriculture and 5.1 percent will be used on water services.
Challenges to Tanzania's education system include a shortage of teachers and teaching aids at all levels, according to Juma Ngasongwa, the planning, economy and empowerment minister.
I have blogged here about the current strains on the Tanzanian education system caused by an extra 2.3 million children flooding into primary schools across the country due to the removal of school fees. This budget shows that Tanzania is trying to manage this transition.
A simple comparison with the NSW State budget shows that NSW spends 24% of its budget on education, and that does not include universities, because they are funded by the Australian Government. NSW spends 28% of its budget on health.
It is great to see that Tanzania is spending more on education, health and infrastructure. But their revenue base is extremely low, even though external grants and concessional financing will contribute 39% of revenue. Their revenue is so tiny that the 18% to be spent on education is ONE HUNDRED TIMES LESS than the amount spent in NSW.
The School of St Jude is a fantastic project that provides essential basic education to bright children from the poorest families. How else are these children to grow up with the skills necessary to help guide Tanzania into the future?
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