DODOMA, Tanzania — By 2025, Tanzania hopes to transform itself into a middle-income country. The government’s initiative, known as the Big Results Now program, was established to raise the nation out of its low-income status, tackling problems in eight different areas: agriculture, energy, water, transport, health, business environment, resource mobilization and education.
While every area is important, education has proven to be the one requiring the most urgent attention. For despite showing great progress in the past decade, the sector now struggles with the quality of instruction as increased numbers of children enroll.
As such, the Tanzanian government — partnering with the World Bank Group’s International Development Association and the governments of the UK and Sweden — has rounded up $416 million to address the needs of the country’s education system.
The funds will be allocated towards significant, results-oriented reform in what is called the Big Results Now Education program.
These results include improvement of test scores and more efficient placement of teachers within the primary and secondary school systems.
Already, the Tanzanian government has responded to such concerns, forming the Education Reform Compact, which ensures Tanzania’s commitment to motivating teachers, gathering test scores from an earlier age and improving financial accountability.
Today, 23 million Tanzanians exist in the job market. The World Bank projects that this number will increase to 45 million by 2030 — and more people will live in cities than in the countryside.
If such an explosion of potential workers occurs — especially if they predominantly live in urban areas — Tanzania must enact quick education reform to ensure job placement and avoid widespread unemployment.
This program opposes all prior projects and attempts at education reform, as it focuses on “outputs” and education quality. Previous and some ongoing reform initiatives have placed an emphasis on “inputs” and student accessibility.
In 2008, for example, the Tanzanian government began the Science Technology and High Education Project, which aimed to improve science and technology learning centers. This was achieved by increased investment in science textbooks and building facilities where students could learn.
For instance, the Open University of Tanzania built a 10-story building, thereby improving student access to learning science and technology, fields that readily provide jobs and financial success.
The Science Technology and High Education Project will complete its first phase by the end of July.
Similarly addressing the problem of accessibility, Tanzania’s Local Authorities Pension Fund is now offering loans to help finance higher education tuitions for needy students. The new move comes as demand for higher education in the country increases and from the LAPF’s discovery that many Tanzanians who are capable of university-level work simply cannot afford the tuition.
Administrators hope that LAPF low-interest loans will help economically empower recipients.
– Shehrose Mian