Article: Tanzanians hope for better quality of local education

The Citizen: This is an in-depth article examining the issues faced by the education sector in Tanzania, particularly in regards to its funding as part of the government’s budget, which is a low 18%, compared to 30% in neighboring Kenya, a country with a budget almost twice that of Tanzania and a population slightly lower than Tanzania’s. There is also mention of the capitation grants needing to be increased. In my experience, the government-promised capitation grant of 20,000 Tshs per student at the secondary level often, in reality, would only average about 9,000 Tshs per student and even that would come in September or October, near the end of the school year, leaving the school to rely on fees collected from students (20,000 Tshs per year). School fees in Tanzania were reduced from 40,000 Tshs to 20,000 Tshs in 2004 leading up to the 2005 elections, with the government promising to make up the difference. A promise that it has not been able to keep, especially with the explosive growth in the number of secondary schools opened under the Secondary Education Development Plan (SEDP). The result has been that schools that were already under-funded have now even more limited resources.

Education Slowing AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa This study challenged the decades-long belief that increased education increased the chance of receiving AIDS. While Tanzania was not part of the study, neighboring Malawi and Kenya should provide a strong correlation. I am not necessarily convinced of the “cognitive tool” hypothesis, it may just be because time in school means less time doing “other activities” or that it even provides a formal education on HIV/AIDS awareness.

Article: Girls Give Up on School To Get Married

IPP Media: Giving up on school to get married Too many girls, especially in the South of Tanzania are forced to leave school, due to pregnancy. In Tanzania, the law requires pregnant girls to leave school, although there has been much debate in Parliament about changing the law so they may return after giving birth. Of course, most times the girls are not in a position to return to school, as they have the new responsibilities of childcare to deal with. The article focuses particularly on the impact of traditional initiation rites that, it claims, lead to more girls getting married at a young age or getting pregnant. There are a few good points made in the article. First, there is definitely a correlation between teen pregnancies and local drum circles, which many teens attend at night. Second, the practice of bride prices in Tanzania does sometimes lead  parents to try to marry off their daughters too early in order to receive some income. Third, there is often too much focus by parents on initiation rites. While I think it is great to keep traditions alive, parents will often spend most of their cash earnings for the year on the ceremonies surrounding initiations, while forsaking the school fees and other supplies needed for their children’s education. It is not unusual to hear of a parent who has “mortgaged” their house in order to get cash for the ngoma. Jando and Unyago rites are an important part of tribal culture, and many parts of the country have given them up completely. They should, however, be conducted in such a way that will still allow the children to get the education they deserve.