Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tanzania is East Africa’s best hope

ZhongNing Chen from the University of Illinois, visited Arusha and makes the following observations on the Cosmo Club website.

As in many other developing countries, education is the only hope for children in Tanzania to get out of poverty. Education in Tanzania is divided into primary and secondary systems, which together last for 13 years. Primary education, which lasts for seven years, is free and compulsory. Students must write a national examination at the end of primary schoolings. Many children leave school at this point and go to work.

Secondary education lasts for six years. There are few secondary schools in Tanzania and enrollment is less than 7% of all children who have completed primary school. Students must pay fees to attend secondary school. Secondary school fees range from $100 to $400 a year. Many students who have passed the national examination at the end of primary schooling cannot attend secondary school simply because they cannot afford the fees. For most of the girls among them, the only option left is to get married.

In an interview last year, when asked to prioritize the country’s most basic needs, President Jakaya Kikwete outlined the following: more schools, universities, hospitals; more roads; more access to drinking water. Clearly, education and medication are Mr. Kikwete’s top priorities. That fills the hearts of many people with optimism.

Many development economists believe that Tanzania is East Africa’s best hope; so do I. I left Tanzania with hope for the country, respect for its people who never give up with their lives, admiration for the volunteers, and determination to help.

With projects like the School of St Jude, Tanzania is certainly East Africa's best hope!

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