Monday, July 23, 2007

Capacity-building in the education sector

IRIN reports that education experts have welcomed the Tanzanian government's pledge to hire more teachers in the 2007-2008 financial year to improve the quality of education in the country.

The government allocated 18 percent of this year's budget to education and announced plans to hire more teachers in June.

On 11 July, Education Minister Margaret Sitta told a parliamentary session in Dodoma, the country's political capital, that the government would employ 14,490 primary and secondary school teachers to raise standards. She also said

Permits will also be issued by the government for about 600 expatriate teachers for privately owned primary and secondary schools.

Since free primary education was introduced in 2002, the Government has focused on improving the quality basic education in the country.

Ministry of Education records show that enrolment in primary schools increased from 4,839,361 in 2001 to 7,969,884 in 2006. This raised the net enrolment ratio in primary schools from 65.5% in 2001 to 96.1% in 2006.

This means that nearly all the children of primary school age are now enrolled in primary schools.

Pressure on secondary schools

The increased enrolment in primary schools has put more pressure on secondary schools to absorb those completing primary education. Enrolment in form one, the first year of secondary education, increased from 99,744 in 2003 to 243,359 in 2006.

Suleiman Sumra, a retired professor of education and researcher with Hakielimu, an NGO dealing with educational issues, said that while it was important to expand schools and enrol more pupils, the question of teachers should also be tackled.

When you cannot have everything and trade-offs have to be made, priority should be given to teachers over buildings.

During a debate on the education ministry's budgetary estimates, legislators praised the government's efforts to build primary and secondary schools over the past 10 years. However, they expressed concern over the shortage of competent teachers and teaching aids, as well as inadequate laboratories and libraries, especially in rural areas.

One legislator, Ponsiano Nyami, gave an example of a secondary school in his constituency with only one teacher - the headmaster. This teacher was forced to use the school's head-prefect as deputy and to carry out administrative duties, such as looking after visitors.

Teachers enjoy working at St Jude's because class sizes are limited, they have excellent teaching resources and there is mentoring and staff training.

St Jude's senior staff and leader trainees

Supporters of the School of St Jude know that their donations are going where they are needed most – to one of the poorest countries that is struggling to give its children an education that can lift the whole country out of extreme poverty.

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