By TONY ZAKARIA, 30th October 2011 @ 09:24, Total Comments: 1, Hits: 1388
Sometimes I think some of our leaders and decision makers failed English. Why? Because if they had passed the Queen’s language they would have heard some wise sayings like procrastination is the enemy of time. Or never wait until tomorrow for something you can do today.
To be fair, government bureaucracy was created to safeguard against hasty decisions. If we had similar bureaucracy for social decisions, no young man would be able to marry before the age of 40. By that time all nice looking age-mates would have ballooned like school matrons with square figures and stern facial expressions.
Has government been hesitating to think outside the box in solving primary and secondary education woes? Take the case of teacher shortages. The country does not have enough teachers for the millions of children in primary school. Enrolment in grade one through seven has really taken off in recent years.
And with a successful MES – programme for expanding access to secondary education – many children eligible for secondary education have been handed a lifeline. Half to three-quarters of all grade seven leavers in many primary schools join a secondary school not too far from where they reside.
In our time, hardly ten pupils were selected to join secondary schools in a division – tarafa in Kiswahili -- which meant all primary schools within 10-20 kilometres radius. Secondary school students practically knew each other by name and homestead. Nowadays few pupils from a village in Karatu know each other even when in the same grade.
Getting enough teachers for the many secondary schools nowadays is like going to the hospital pharmacy to get drugs. Both of these essential items for social services are so frequently out of stock that when a teacher reports to a remote school he automatically becomes headmaster without an assistant. We have no shortage of pharmacy staff even though some medicines are as rare as albino giraffes in Katavi national park.
To manufacture enough teachers to fill gaps would require employing mercenary tutors from abroad somewhere. Government should invite qualified Ugandans, Kenyans and other nationalities to teach in public schools. Why should their nationality matter if they can teach? An expat grey cat is still a mice-catcher. Tanzanian cats can play rodent officers so long as Tanzanian children get good education.
There must be East Africans, Malawians or Zimbabweans who are willing to work for local salaries and other emoluments. Let them come in the spirit of globalization. Some private schools in Tanzania have already been thinking outside the box and recruiting from outside our borders.
Employing non-Tanzanian teachers could teach some local teachers who harbour a confrontational attitude towards government lessons in humility. Nobody is indispensable. The best students in mathematics, chemistry and physics in the past selected other professions instead of becoming teachers. The ministry could employ them now as part-time teachers.
While education is the key that opens the doors of opportunities in life, agriculture remains the backbone that provides food and cash to fund investments in education. It was clear since the time of Mwalimu Nyerere that the peasant agriculture practised by 80% of rural families could not propel Tanzania into prosperity in its second half-century after independence.
Tanzania must learn and adopt modern agricultural methods. When we killed Ujamaa, we kissed goodbye to collective farms run on principles of modern agriculture. Now it is every family for itself. So why are we allowing hooligans to disrupt and at times destroy medium and large-scale farms?
If a Tanzanian plants 100 acres of crops he is considered a fisadi or corrupt. Let us love such fisadis because they are investing at home instead of stashing the small change –vijisenti – abroad in offshore accounts.
If two or more friends combine efforts to plant 400 acres of crops they can contribute more significantly to the national coffers than some coastal villages where a whole family seldom cultivates a hectare of land in a given year.
When the agricultural investor is a foreign national, he is here to exploit our land and harassed by villagers and political lightweights alike. Not too long ago some angry elements destroyed crops and farm machinery belonging to an investor in Babati.
He was growing sugarcane, if I remember correctly. Maybe he closed shop and moved away. Is it any wonder we have shortages of sugar and other food items that can grow efficiently here? The Ministry of Agriculture must come out unequivocally to condemn harassment of investors in agriculture.
We need investors in agriculture like we need food. They will bring fresh air into our inefficient traditional farming methods. We have enough land for every living citizen from babies to toothless grandmothers to get one acre each of arable land. Tanzania has 100 million acres of arable land.
Tanzania has millions more acres of less arable land similar to the land in Israel and Afghanistan. The Afghans and Israelis have managed to grow wheat, olive and palms for centuries on land that few Tanzanian villagers would risk building their houses on.
Let the long arm of the law deal perpendicularly with law breakers who destroy property belonging to genuine investors both local and foreign. Anyone who incites such actions should be regarded as an enemy of the people.
Tanzania should be able to feed East Africa but not with our hand-held hoes and traditional seeds of inferior yield. Filipinos trap rainwater and use it to grow paddy on mountain slopes and here we are, letting water flow away as flash floods during the long rains in places like Makanya and Hedaru.
Perhaps we should invite Filipino missionaries to settle in Same and Shinyanga and see how in no time they transform those areas into green zones and by so-doing, teach the Wasukuma and Wapare that while ugali and makande are tasty for them, maize is not the only crop that can flourish in their areas.
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Total Comments on the above stories (1)
Good analysis, but if you get to know the truth about the challenges of development in Africa which includes our country you will be surprised. Although getting teachers from elsewhere including neighbouring countries would have been good because some countries have so many teachers who are unemployed, you will be surprised that even within our borders we have teachers who are looking for jobs but the problem is limited financial resources for salaries to recruit them at a particular time. In the same way you will have shortage of doctors around the country but with limited funds to recruit all of them who are graduating at a particular time and send them around the country. While large scale farmers should be encouraged to invest more resources in producing more to feed the country and the region, subsistence farmers should also be empowered to expand their farms as issues of access to markets for their produce are dealt with.
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