The Tanzanian government is flexing its muscles in the reform of education. It has warned regional and district leaders not to allow public schools under their jurisdictions to continue collecting money from pupils and students. According to the government, this violates the country’s free education policy.
The government had earlier issued a circular on the implementation of Education and Training Policy, directing all public institutions to ensure that education is free to all children. The circular among other things proscribed all forms of education related fees and contributions. It reads: “Provision of free education means pupils or students will not pay any fee or contributions by parents or guardians …..”
However, President John Magufuli noted with great concern that despite the ongoing execution of the policy, some schools have ignored the circular and teachers still collect money and have continued to send home pupils and students over failure to pay.
President Magufuli regretted that pupils and students were still forced to contribute towards food, laboratory services, desks and study tours. The president ordered stern measures against leaders and executives who have failed to check the contributions in schools within their areas.
He directed the Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training Minister, Professor Joyce Ndalichako and her counterpart in the President’s Office, Regional Administration and Local Government, Selemani Jafo, to ensure that the circular is strictly adhered to.
During his meeting with the two ministers at State House in Dar es Salaam, on Wednesday, Dr. Magufuli declared that the government disburses 23.8bn/- monthly to implement free education but was shocked to learn that there were teachers who continued charging pupils and students as well as sending home those who could not afford to pay.
He stated categorically, “I direct you that I don’t want to hear that a pupil/student is dismissed over failure to contribute. Send the same message to the regional and district commissioners, directors and all those concerned. If I hear this continuing anywhere, I will descend on my appointees heavily”.
The president charged, “It makes no sense for the government to remove the school fees and yet teachers decide to introduce contributions that poor parents can’t afford to pay for their children”. As the officials acknowledged, when authority speaks, the matter should be seen as final.