Z’bar plans to increase academic pass rates, raise literacy

ZANZIBAR envisages increasing pass rates at all educational levels as well as raising the literacy rate from the current 87.3 to 90 per cent by 2025.

Education and Vocational Training Minister, Lela Muhamed Mussa stated this on Wednesday as she announced massive educational transformations, which seek to accelerate the country’s social and economic development.

Moving the ministry’s 457.3bn/- budget estimates for the 2023/2024 fiscal year in the House of Representatives here, she identified eleven priorities that will guide the ministry’s operations next financial year.

The government will also sustain its feeding programme to 42 primary schools that operate under difficult environment and all pre-primary schools in the country.

The minister briefed the house on plans to prepare a seven-year (2023/2030) educational development plan and completion of educational policy and law to respond to the contemporary national needs and enable scholars to compete in the domestic and international labour markets.

Under the school infrastructure strategy, the government will construct 1,000 classrooms at nursery, primary and secondary schools through erection of 31 storey school buildings in the country.

Under plan is also the construction of the ministry’s offices in Unguja and Pemba as well as five district educational offices, which will comprise libraries and education inspectors’ offices, the minister explained, adding that construction of Mtopepo and Muembeladu schools will be completed in the next financial year, with 21 other schools in Unguja and Pemba undergoing major and minor repairs.

The budget also covers construction of five vocational training centres–three in Unguja at Jendele, Pangatupu and Bweleo and two in Pemba at Chambani and Tumbe areas under the Skills Development for Youth Employability in the Blue Economy Project (SEBEP).

Construction of seafaring college at the State University of Zanzibar’s (SUZA) Nkrumah campus and expansion of mechanical workshop at Karume Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) are other envisaged projects under SEBEP, according to the minister.

The government is keen to improve teaching and learning environment through supplies of teaching materials at all levels of education, including books, computers, aid tools for students with special needs, teachers’ guides, furniture, exercise books and chalks.

She further told the house that the government would enhance boarding services through construction of three more boarding schools and four dormitories at Lumumba, Paje Mtule, Utaani and Chwakatumbe secondary schools.

The government will supply public schools with information and communication technology (ICT) equipment and connect them to the national fibre optic cable network in efforts to boost ICT learning and uses in schools.

The next financial year will see the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) branching to Zanzibar to groom ICT experts for the islands and the entire East Africa. Through collaboration with Austrian partners, KIST laboratories will undergo massive renovations, Minister Lela said.

Issuance of higher education loans is also among the ministry’s priorities in the next fiscal year, with the target being to provide loans to 6,060 students in 2024 from the current 4,875 beneficiaries. The ministry will as well recruit 5,554 new employees to beef up the docket labour force towards execution of the yearly plans.

She asked the house to approve 457,299,603,000/- for the ministry’s operations in the coming financial year that commences on July 1, 2023. She said 276,288,600,000/- and 181,011,003/- are for recurrent and development expenditures, respectively.

The House Standing Committee on Social Services decried financial constraints that impede operations of vocational training centres in Unguja and Pemba.

Presenting the committee opinions in the house, Zawadi Amur Nassor faulted the allocation of Tanzania Revenue Authority’s (TRA) collected skills development levy (SDL), describing the system as ambiguous, leading to failure by many centres to operate efficiently. She proposed 100 per cent allocation of the SDL to vocational training centres.

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