SEATTLE — Education has been a priority for Tanzanians since the country’s independence in 1961. However, millions of Tanzanian children are left without secondary education or vocational training. This leaves many children with no choice but to work in exploitive, abusive or hazardous environments in order to support their families. However, progress is being made to improve education opportunities in Tanzania.
Since 2015, Halotel Telecom Company (HTC) has provided free and fast internet services to 450 Tanzanian schools. Joseph Julius, a student at Lugoba High School, said that HTC has helped him and other students have access to downloadable textbooks, full-color content, articles and high-definition videos. Joseph remembers how his class used to see DNA drawings in only black and white, but they can now use the internet to view DNA in various forms, colors, videos and other mediums. “There are new software updates every day,” said Emmanuel Muhizi, a computer teacher pleased with HTC’s help in introducing Tanzanian students to the world’s unfolding technologies.
In November 2015, Tanzania’s government issued Circular 5, which directs the country’s public bodies to ensure that secondary education is free for 11 years for all children. “Provision of free education means pupils or students will not pay any fee or other contributions that were being provided by parents or guardians before the release of new circular,” reads the Circular. Students will only need to pay for school books, uniforms and pens.
In February 2016, the College of New Caledonia (CNC) began a plan with Canada’s College of the Rockies to conduct a three-year capacity-building project for Tanzania’s vocational training programs. Funded by Global Affairs Canada, the project will bring advanced trade instructors to Tanzania’s vocational institutions. “This is a great learning opportunity for students and faculty both at CNC and in Tanzania,” said Frank Rossi, CNC’s Dean of Trades.
In April 2017, the organization FHI 360 established an education management information system in seven of Tanzania’s poorest regions. Once the system is taken to scale, it could support more than 10 million students and 25,000 schools. FHI 360 is also using a geographic information system, K-Mobile, to map 5,500 schools in the impoverished region. The mapping has improved the Tanzanian government’s capacity to budget and plan for future EMIS efforts.
In May 2017, the World Bank approved a credit to create more education opportunities in Tanzania. Worth $80 million, the credit will provide primary and secondary education to millions of the country’s children and help Tanzania’s most vulnerable households. “We congratulate the government on removing obstacles to school attendance, especially among the poor, and for its focus on education quality,” said Bella Bird of the World Bank.
At a press conference in October 2017, Stanbic Bank announced plans to offer Tanzanian students financial assistance for university-level education. “It is a flexible solution that allows parents to support their children’s higher learning needs by meeting their financial obligations for fees, books and accommodations,” said Lilian Mtali, the bank’s head of personal markets. The bank will also offer graduates cost-free transactional accounts for managing their finances.
Technological developments have greatly served efforts in improving education opportunities in Tanzania. However, opportunities for secondary education and vocational training may continue to be greater challenges facing Tanzania’s youth. Projects in other categories, not just technology alone, may also be needed to continue strengthening the country’s education sector. Financial assistance such as the World Bank’s $80 million credit could play a key role in filling these gaps.
– Rhondjé Singh Tanwar