“Elimu Haina Mwisho!” – “You are never too old to learn!” -
EDU Secretary General learns Swahili phrase during Tanzania briefing.
Elimu Haina Mwisho!
So began a briefing on the education policies of the United Republic of Tanzania to H.E. Irving Levance of the Intergovernmental Organization EDU, delivered in impressive style by H.E. Mr. Ahmada R. Ngemera, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Minister Plenipotentiary Mr. Ali I. Siwa.
The phrase was used by Julius K. Nyerere, the First President of Tanzania to encapsulate his belief in liberating the individual’s ability to become self reliant.
Education has been Tanzania’s highest single priority since then and remains in first place in terms of state funding, with Health in second place and Infrastructure in third. Although it is a country rich in natural resources with all manner of precious, scarce, strategic and staple minerals (including Tanzanite which as the name suggest is found nowhere else in the world) the Government regards its people as its greatest resource in its quest to become a “nation of ideas”.
The strategic “Vision 2025” consists of two Mega-Statements:
• By 2025 to become a Middle Income Society
• By 2025 to become a Learning Society.
Instilling the personal habit of knowledge acquisition by individual citizens is considered a priority.
Universal Primary Education is compulsory for the first seven years and is designed to ensure literacy and numeracy. The policy has successfully achieved 97% enrolment on the mainland and 100% on Zanzibar. Adult Education is facilitated with a policy which states that you are never too old to learn and a National Institution for Adult Education provides access to those who missed out in younger life. Primary education is locally administered while secondary and tertiary education falls under the Education Ministry in keeping with the policy of local empowerment.
At independence the country had only one university. It now has 40, which is almost one a year.
Capacity is increased by the decision to allow private education providers to operate in the country. Quality of education is considered one of the biggest challenges, such as sufficient teachers, manageable class sizes, teaching aids and adequate budgets.
Matching skills to employment opportunities and employer requirements is considered essential, especially in Information Technology, Manufacturing and Engineering Sciences.
Tanzania acknowledges it still faces a challenge of instilling discipline and a sense of duty amongst its teaching staff which it is pursuing through a process of teacher audits while ensuring that education remains affordable is a declared aim.
The country has tailored its curriculum to its own needs and aims and cultural identity. That said, with adjustments for relevance to international needs and a system of reliable accreditation, the education system in Tanzania could easily be adapted so as to become an attractive asset for export.
With this in mind, H.E. Mr. Ahmada R. Ngemera opined that active participation in the Intergovernmental Organization EDU would be commensurate with Tanzania’s current and projected educational policies and agreed to initiate and coordinate the process for that to happen.
His task in this should be facilitated by his prior education in Business Administration at Dar es Salaam University and Political Sciences and Administration at Wisconsin-Madison University combined with substantial experience as Deputy Secretary General of the East African Community, an Intergovernmental Organisation comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.
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