DESPITE higher pupils’ enrolments in primary schools in Tanzania, the country is still faced with problem of inadequate infrastructures. This has been revealed by the Controller and Auditor General (CAG), Prof Mussa Assad, in his performance audit report on the availability and up-keeping of primary schools’ infrastructure in Tanzania. Our Staff Writer FAUSTINE KAPAMA reports…
A situational study by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 2014 indicates that though many poor countries have shown significant increase in school participation, sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia were still home to the majority of out-of-school children.
The main reason is being supply-side barriers in terms of school infrastructure and quality. The Tanzania National Development Vision 2025 on education requires Tanzania to be a nation with high quality of education at all levels.
Such education must produce quality educated people who are sufficiently equipped with the requisite knowledge to solve the society’s problems, meet the challenges of development and attain competitiveness at national, regional and global levels. Despite higher pupils’ enrolments in primary schools in Tanzania, the country is still faced with the problem of inadequate infrastructures.
The research conducted in Tanzania with Kesho Trust in 2013 indicated that the basic infrastructures like classrooms, teachers’ houses, pit latrines and play grounds are major problems.
According to the Primary Education Statistics prepared by President’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Government), the number of primary schools pupils increased to nearly twenty times from year 1961 to 2016.
It is stated that in the year 1961 the number of primary school pupils was 486,470 and increased to 8.3 million pupils in the year 2016. This has created a significant demand for school facilities. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and President’s Office-Regional Administration and Local Government have obligations of ensuring availability and management of primary schools physical facilities or infrastructure.
They include classrooms, teacher houses, and toilets for teachers and pupils, desks, sport fields, water, drainage, electricity, fire and safety, among others. Among the efforts taken by the government include the introduction of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.
The initiative intended to reduce the number of risks to pupils resulting from poor sanitation which contribute into lost schools days due to illness or for girls while menstruating, poor pupils school performance and the increased economic burden.
Also, other government efforts were to ensure the problem of desks is solved and enough desks are available for all public primary schools in the country. Due to significant social-economic risks and need to provide quality education to pupils, the CAG, Prof. Mussa Assad, decided to conduct performance audit, focusing on availability and up keeping of primary schools infrastructure in Tanzania to identify and recommend on areas for further improvement.
His audit was motivated by several issues, notably the increased pupils’ health risk: There is rapid increase in primary school enrolment since the abolition of school fees in 2002 put a heavy burden on existing school infrastructures. They include Water Sanitation and Hygiene facilities, which generally were already suffering from poor operation and maintenance.
According to the study conducted by UNICEF, many new schools and classrooms were built with no consideration of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene facilities or if built, they rarely followed standards.
The study noted that children in such schools face increased health risks including diarrhea, worms and urinary infections, which can hinder their ability to learn and could result to increased absenteeism. Poor attendance often translates into poor performance, and pupils who perform poorly are more likely to drop out early from school.
There were also overcrowded classrooms. According to the report on primary schools in Dar es Salaam, overcrowded and without sufficient text books issued by TWAWEZA (2011), primary schools infrastructures in the Region are overcrowded and the average number of pupils per classroom in the surveyed schools is 81 pupils.
This is twice the required number of 40 pupils per classroom. This means that the rate of enrolment has doubled, while the maximum numbers of pupils that can be accommodated in the classrooms have remained constant for the period of 15 years.
Furthermore, there were higher pupils to latrine ratio: According to published Primary Education Statistics in Tanzania for year 2015, Dar es Salaam Region has a pupil-latrine ratio of 101 for boys and 94 for girls.
This is far below the norm required pupil: latrine ratio of 25:1 for boys and 20:1 for girls and the impact is more on girls especially on attendance and performance. This is to say that the number of pupils has increased while the number of latrines has remained constant. The CAG noted also inadequate water supply and sanitation facilities. Poor water supply and sanitation facilities have been a persistent problem over decades in Tanzania.
This contributes to poor learning environment, absenteeism, underperformance and higher dropout rates mostly for adolescent girls. A detailed 2009 study supported by UNICEF and other partners that covered all schools in 16 districts showed that over 80 percent of schools lacked functioning hand-Water, Sanitation and Hygiene facilities.
Therefore, the CAG decided to assess whether Ministry of Education and the President’s Office have effectively implemented the mechanisms to ensure availability of adequate infrastructure in primary schools for enhancement of good learning environment for pupils.
Specifically, the audit assessed on the extent to which primary schools adhere to the minimum registration requirements of the infrastructure and whether the inspection of Primary schools’ infrastructures are adequately conducted and the identified weaknesses are addressed thereof.
The CAG also wanted to know whether needed resources (financial and technical personnel) are allocated in order to ensure adequate primary schools’ infrastructures and the extent of which sanctions are issued to defaulters of primary school registration requirements. His audit has, at the end, uncovered several factors that have been contributing to poor performance of pupils in different primary schools in the country, notably the underprivileged, dilapidated and insufficient infrastructures.
He points out in his 2015/2016 performance audit report that two key ministries responsible of education have not effectively implemented the mechanism to ensure availability of adequate infrastructure in primary schools for enhancement of good learning environment for pupils.
As a result, he notes in the report on availability and up-keeping of primary schools’ infrastructure in Tanzania, four million pupils, equivalent to 48 percent of all pupils in the country, have no classrooms. Similarly, he said, 5.4 million pupils, equivalent to 65 percent of all pupils did not have latrines.
The CAG has noted that enrolments of primary school’s pupils in the country have been increasing while the infrastructures have been deteriorating and overcrowded. According to his report, from 2001 to 2016, the number of enrolled pupils increased from 4.8 million to 8.3 million.
Such increase, he said, does not reflect the available infrastructure, thus the need for the responsible ministries, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the President’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Government) to take necessary steps to improve the situation.
The CAG notes in his report that some schools are registered without meeting the minimum registration requirements, primary schools’ register did not include all schools and there was ineffective sanctioning of defaulters of primary schools registration.
He further discovered that not all schools and their infrastructures were inspected as planned, school inspection pays limited attention to infrastructure, failure to ensure the implementation of the issued sanctions and insufficient funding for development and up-keeping of primary schools’ infrastructures.
The CAG has recommended to the ministry to establish mechanisms for ensuring that all primary schools are registered according to the laid down requirement and establish procedures to further prioritize and ensure timely completion of primary schools infrastructures inspections.
He suggested that the ministry should ensure that application of sanctions after and during the inspection of primary schools’ infrastructure is done as per the stipulated laws and regulations, and conduct periodical follow ups on the effectiveness of the issued sanctions.
While the President’s Office-Regional Administration and Local Government should, the CAG suggests, should ensure that primary schools’ infrastructures needs assessment is periodically conducted and required actions are taken on time.
It should establish an integrated database system for maintaining and keeping records and information on primary schools’ infrastructures that will assist planning for activities regarding the development and up keeping of primary schools’ infrastructures in the country.
The President’s Office should also ensure proper allocation of resources (financial and technical personnel) and have mechanism in place to ensure that such resources are utilized effectively for adequate development and up keeping of primary schools’ infrastructures.