Quality education for girls is priority

Quality education for girls is priority

Kalanda Melami from the pastoral Maasai in Monduli District, Arusha Region is a victim of the deep rooted culture that still relegates women to objects of wealth creation through marrying them off for cattle. The girl’s father forced her into marriage for eight cows as dowry!

This is happening at a time when the fourth-phase government under President Jakaya Kikwete, in collaboration with stakeholders in education sector, has been in the forefront to improve the sector. The girl child education receives special emphasis on the known fact that if you educate a woman you educate the nation.

For an educated woman will have children later in life, few and well-spaced children, bring up a healthy family and eventually have a healthy nation that will play an active role in the socio-economic development of the country. But, despite this fact, studies on the status of education in the country reveal a rather sad story. The example reported from Monduli is a reflection of what is happening in many rural settings in the country where over 85 per cent of Tanzanians live.

Social services including water, electricity and reliable infrastructure are lacking in most of rural areas. In fact a healthy and prosperous nation comes from healthy and well educated citizens. The founder of the nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, correctly said it is only education that can ensure total liberation of a human being, and if you want to know the level of development of any country, view it through the eyes of its women.

He championed the adult education crusade that put Tanzania on the world map in 1980s which recorded about 96 per cent literacy rate among its citizens. It has since declined to about 60 per cent. Currently there is a growing population of young illiterates going by reports of children in secondary schools who can neither read nor write. Most of these secondary schools are community owned.

They face several challenges, including lack of qualified and competent teachers, teaching facilities such as text and reference books, laboratories, teachers’ houses and dormitories especially for girl students. The Deputy Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) responsible for education, Mr Khassim Majaliwa has brought some hope that the government, aware of the problems facing the education system in the country, has put in place strategies to reverse the situation.

The fact that President Kikwete has allowed people with financial resources to invest in education is a good sign that strategies are afoot to address the problems. Good news is that education graduates are assured of employment and, according to minister Majaliwa, about 13,000 teachers have been deployed in various secondary schools in the country early this year. Also that about 85 per cent of the over 37,000 shortage of teachers would be solved by 2014 is heartening.

Government plan is to ensure 1:1 ratio text books availability by 2013. Emphasis on science teachers training from select colleges of education and resource allocation for construction of dormitories/hostels especially for girls’ students are clear indication of the commitment to address to improve the education sector. For the shortcomings identified are part of the development challenges that, at the same time, provide opportunities for solutions. We must all support the government in its efforts aimed to improve the education in this country.

Transparency is the way forward

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Author: EDITOR

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