The world of ‘fake news,’ Africa’s culture in child upbringing

MOST often than not these days, one comes across complaints of “fake news”- although the fundamental quality of news all the time and everywhere is factual accuracy.

The other day someone alerted my attention to an item seemingly carried by CNN that the World Bank has denied Tanzania a $300m loan amid “crackdown” concerns.

But within 48-hours, there was good news that the same World Bank has pledged its commitment to disburse the same amount of funds for the development of the country’s education sector!

This was the big news there at the break of this week and the beaming President John Pombe Magufuli (JPM) was all in smiles to have received the fund pledge from the World Bank’s Vice-President, Mr Havez Ghanem, when he received him at the State House in Dar es Salaam.

“There has been lots of fake tales that we will not receive the funds,” chuckled the President at the end of his meeting with Mr Ghanem.

But for the interest of those reading these lines that may not have seen the CNN dispatch, here are excerpts: 

Heading: ‘Tanzania loses $300m World Bank loan’.

Begin story: London, CNN: The World Bank has pulled out a planned $300m educational loan to Tanzania amid concerns about the country’s policy of banning pregnant girls from going to school.

The $300 million program was meant to help Tanzania’s Ministry of Education improve access to quality secondary education. It was scheduled to be approved by the bank’s management late last month, but a source within the bank told CNN the programme was instead withdrawn and will not be going forward.

Tanzania’s policy of expelling pregnant girls from schools was one of the reasons for the loan to be withdrawn, the source said.

When I saw this news item much earlier before the World Bank Vice-President went ahead to see our President here, I was livid with rage on the presumed reasons to withhold the funding as the CNN dispatch quoted at the launch of this perspective reported.

How do you penalize a country trying to impart good conduct on the discipline of school attendance for children? Can an institution like the World Bank support pregnant girls attending school?

Now, how does one rate the CNN news item? “Fake news?” My response to this question would be: “Verily!”

A local news item published by a local newspaper here read after the meeting between the Vice- President of the World Bank with President Magufuli:

“The World Bank has reiterated its commitment to disburse $300 million to fund implementation of various projects in the education sector.

“According to a communiqué from the Tanzanian Presidency, the World Bank Vice-President reaffirmed this commitment during his talks with President Magufuli.

“The money will be used to improve the quality of education by constructing laboratories, construction of teachers’ houses, classrooms, dormitories as well as purchasing teaching equipment.”

On his part, according to the story, President Magufuli was reported to have reassured the World Bank of Tanzania’s commitment for continued cooperation.

“I thank the World Bank for its continued support to Tanzania, because there are some people who do not wish us well,” the President was quoted as saying, most likely in reference to those earlier reports of the World Bank being negative to support Tanzania.

Now, what has motivated me to embark on this commentary is not so much on the subject of ‘Fake News’ whose expression is most common with US President Trump, when he turns on his local media, but the alleged concern of the World Bank on school girls in this country, who are allegedly prevented from attending schools once put in a family way – made pregnant.

But Tanzania, like most African countries lives in a culture of its own; and as a people, in a culture rooted on moral grounds and values.

While it may not raise eyebrows in the United States or Europe to talk of “same sex” partnerships – even marriages – it is something that can never be discussed in loud tones -going by African values and culture. It is something that is never entertained.

Thus being the foundation stone, African parents are always and ever serious with their children when it comes on the element of education. 

An African parent would not look away when his or her daughter is seen doing things that are for grown-ups -things that may interfere with her education development.

So if this were the attitude of parents in bringing up their daughters, what would be the attitude of their respective governments? Allow the country’s girls to attend school while pregnant? No!

This is an aspect no Tanzanian or African government anywhere on the continent can entertain.

But this does not mean to say that things should stay as they are– leaving to fate the quest for education by African girls. There must be continuous education efforts by parents at their respective cultural levels on their respective roles as parents to educate their children, especially the daughters on the ground or terrain they are in.

If the World Bank and other global institutions can come up with means of support in this endeavor, the initiative will be more than welcome.

On the other hand, there has been a very courageous on the part of the Magufuli Administration, the first of its kind since the independence of this country to open Primary Schools’ doors free to all children of Tanzania. Today primary school education is free for all children in this country.

One hopes that this bold step by the Tanzanian Government will be appreciated and supported by the World Bank and other multilateral global agencies in the next move by the State’s authority to achieve quality education from primary school level. 


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