THE country’s education sector received a great impetus after the World Bank (WB) agreed to issue a loan amounting to 997.5bn/- to finance the Higher Education and Economic Transformation (HEET) project.
The project is envisaged to make university graduates excel in the job market and contribute efficiently to the country’s economic development.
The new five-year HEET project, kicking off this year, was designed by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to promote higher education as a catalytic force in the new Tanzanian economy.
The project would strengthen the learning environment and labour market alignment of priority programmes at beneficiary universities and improve the management of the higher education system.
Among strategic goals of the project include improving the relevance and quality of programmes at universities to meet the conditions and standards of the current and future labour market.It also seeks to increase the rate and extent of graduate employability through improving the relevance of curricula as well as create new and demand-driven programmes.
The WB internal processes on supporting the HEET started in 2018, but the Bank arrived at the decision to fund the project December 13, last year when it held its internal meeting for that purpose.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Dr Leonard Akwilapo spoke of the project during the meeting of higher education stakeholders which convened to discuss the draft document on safety, environmental and community guidelines in implementing the HEET project in the country.
Dr Akwilapo said the project will benefit, improve and make positive reforms in 14 public universities in the country, three agencies as well as the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. As an outcome, the project is expected to increase motivation and empower stakeholders, including students and trainers.
He mentioned main stakeholders of the project as Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU), Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) and Higher Education Students’ Loans Board (HESLB).
Dr Akwilapo further explained that the aim of the government is to increase human resources in universities, improve infrastructures, laboratory equipment to streamline the curriculum and enable graduates to create self-employments and become employable.
Building capacity of the universities through the project would also attract more local and foreign students, something which the CCM’s election manifesto has pledged in Article 80 (30), he said. “In our party’s elections manifesto for 2020-25 we have promised that in the next five years we will have increased human resources in universities, improve infrastructures and laboratory equipment in order to improving learning in the universities and enable graduates become employable and able to create their own jobs,” said Dr Akwilapo.
Dr Akwilapo further pointed out that his docket will make sure that youths are empowered, equipped with self-awareness and turned into patriotic citizens.
“With this project we will equip universities with modern facilities, and focus on practical training. We expect to review and improve 290 curricula in the universities in line with future skills demand and job market,” he noted.
The government projects high increase in the enrolment of students in the country’s universities due to the introduction of free education policy.
Since the introduction of this system, primary schools and secondary schools countrywide witnessed a significant rise in the number of enrolled pupils and students respectively. About 90,000 students are currently enrolled in the country’s universities, but in the next three to four years the number is expected to double.
The government initiated the HEET project by forming a five-member team which started working on designing the project in 2018 and has now presented the final draft to stakeholders to get more contributions on how to improve the education sector in the country.
According to Dr Richard Masika, Secretary of committee, the project will make the modern research equipment available through partnership with Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) which would be coordinating and managing innovations and publications.