RIGHT from the word GO after the then Tanganyika gained political independence in December 1961, the pioneer nationalists, led by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, reckoned that the achievement was not an end in itself.
It was, rather, the starting point for wananchi to become independent for real, rather in the symbolic context. For, they gained Uhuru while, all around them, they were assailed by serious problems which, if they remained intact, would render the whole concept of independence at best shallow, and, at worst, pointless. The problems in question were poverty, ignorance and disease.
A serious war had to be waged against them.
On ignorance, specifically, Mwalimu reckoned that, liberating wananchi from ignorance meant, fundamentally, empowering them with education.
The education wasn’t perceived in terms of the relatively fanciful terms of the country’s children attending school, and progressing from primary to university levels.
The sector also had to address illiteracy amongst adults, in the conquest of which Mwalimu Nyerere played an instrumental role. It was, and remains crucial that wananchi, young and old, be an enlightened lot.
The government was however enjoined to play a crucial role in nurturing young Tanzanians into resourceful nation builders, by initially equipping them with a solid academic foundation, as well as vocational skills-based training.
The government invested heavily in the education sector, but somewhere along the way, the private variety of the sector gained an upper hand.
Parents and children alike became endeared to better facilitated private schools, which stole the show in examination performance. No wonder students selected to join public schools switched to the private sector instead.
Come the Fifth Phase government, a revolution is in motion, under which the public education sector is being reformed and the positive results are steadily shooting to the fore.
One of the manifestations is the sterling performance of some ward schools in the latest Form Six examinations. The Minister of State in the President’s Office, Regional Administration and Local Government, Mr Selemani Jafo has attributed it to increased investments in the sector.
This is a significant and most welcome development, since it restores the glory that the sector used to command. Which, of course, is not to imply that private schools have no role to play.
The point is that the two sectors should co-exist mutually for the collective benefit of the nation.