Dont fear to develop productive debates

SCHOLARS in the country have been urged to eliminate fear in fulfilling their obligations of developing productive debates for the benefit of the country.

The call was made on Tuesday in Dar es Salaam by Professor Issa Shivji, during a three-day symposium organised by the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), College of Social Science (CoSS) to discuss academic freedom, democracy and sustainable development in Africa.

Moreover, he says that unlike the 1970s to 1990, when academic debates were a hallmark of the institution, the trend now has changed.

“Sometimes, academics themselves felt constrained and therefore, afraid to discuss. So let me remind them that they are free to talk,” says Prof Shivji.

Prof Shivji says that the country’s systems sometimes restrain people from speaking but academics should continue to raise their voice without fear because it is their responsibility.

He says that it is important to prioritise the freedom of academics because they have a great contribution in the production of various policies and programmes in the country.

The UDSM CoSS Principal, Prof Christina Noe says that the current discussions are not as strong as those of previous years about 40 years ago.

“Scholars should not be afraid to speak because they give their scientific arguments that are researched so their ideas are worked upon the policy makers,” says Prof Noe.

On his part a veteran politician Mr Zito Kabwe says the presence of conferences discussing academic freedom is important not only for universities but on all platforms.

“Discussion platforms are what generate concepts, experts, academics and scholars where they will argue and find things that can make society move forward. This is not only for Tanzania but the whole world,” Mr Kabwe said.

The symposium drew scholars from various universities in Africa including Nairobi and Kabarak -Kenya, Makerere – Uganda, Bujumbura- Burundi, Witwatersrand – South Africa and University of Rwanda, Ardhi, Dodoma and MUHAS and UDSM as host.

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