In an attempt to address development challenges, Tanzania came up with its “Development Vision 2025” which among other things envisages “a well-educated and learning society.” Under the vision Tanzania is determined to be a nation with high quality education at all levels; a nation that produces the quantity and quality of educated people sufficiently equipped with the requisite knowledge and skills to solve the society’s problems, to meet the challenges of development and to attain competitiveness at regional and global levels. This is considered critical after realising that the quality of our workforce is a serious constraint to our development efforts. Thus, education including the application of information and communication technology (ICT) shall continue to rank high in our efforts to ensure sustainable development.
To achieve this vision Tanzania treats education as a strategic agent for mindset transformation and for the creation of a well educated nation, sufficiently equipped with the knowledge needed to competently and competitively solve the development challenges facing the nation. In this light, the education system is restructured and transformed qualitatively, with a focus on promoting a science and technological culture from its lowest levels. Basic sciences and mathematics are accorded great importance in keeping with the demands of the modern technological age without losing sight of the humanities. The vision emphasizes the need to ensure that science and technology education and their application for promoting and enhancing productivity permeate the whole society through continuous learning and publicity campaigns.
In addition, the poor communities are targeted to ensure their access to basic education. The resource base is being broadened to ensure adequate funding for primary education up to the university. More resources are being allocated to tertiary and higher education while management capacity to cope with the requirements of the education sector is enhanced.
Recent policy in Education Sector including Technical Education and Training Policy(1996), National Higher Education Policy (1999) and Science and Technology Policy (1996) emphasise the overall goal of education sector which is to ensure quality, access and equity at all levels of education. Specifically these policies are aiming in improvement of quality education and training, expansion of the provision of education and training, promotion of science and technology and broadening the base for the financing of education and training.
These education policies are in line with the larger national or macro policy which emphasizes, inter alia, increased role of private sector in education, introduction of cost sharing measures, and decentralization of education and training management.
To meet this high demand of educational and training institutions, the establishment and ownership of tertiary education and training institutions was liberalized, and the training institutions were allowed to design and develop their own curricula which are to be validated by NACTE, VETA and other appropriate organs. These policies stipulated further that Tertiary and higher education and training institutions shall conduct and administer examinations award appropriate certificates, diplomas and degrees as provided for in their respective Acts.
The government’s first priority to education initiative should not be taken coincidental but purposeful preparation of the Tanzanians to fare well in the globalised world. It is very impressive to see that the number of the university students in the country has risen from 7785 in 1995 to 32,681 in 2005, making an increment of about 400 percents. Of course, this has been possible due to the contribution of the private sector for which the government has created a conducive environment. As a matter of fact, the achievements in education is a crystal clear evidence and an indicator that we are going in the right direction towards making education once again accessible to the majority of the Tanzanians
While having as many as possible people go through tertiary education is a prerequisite for development in this era of globalisation, it should be remembered that, the Tanzanian population has increased from about 7 million people in 1960s to about 40 million people in the present, an increment of about 500 percent. In 1960s and 1970s it was quite possible to deliver free university education but today this would be an illusion of the economic position of our country.
However, it seems Tanzania is caught up in a situation where it needs many highly educated people but at the same time without enough resources to support its people acquire that education. This is a dilemma in which most poor countries especially those in Sub-Saharan Africa face. Although that is the real situation, we have reasons to cherish the government efforts to establish and inaugurate the Higher Learning Students’ Loans Board. Through the board, more Tanzanians will benefit as some are already doing.
Since 1995 when education sector reforms began, the government role has now changed from that of a key player to that of a facilitator in the provision of education. This new role of the government provides a more conducive environment for the private sector to increase its investment in education. Private investment in education will establish a more learning environment that will allow imparting both knowledge and technology to the youth for a more active participation in the agricultural sector and the economy as a whole.
As any other sector of the social development, education sector has been affected by poor resource allocation to the sector, being public or private. The situation has been observed by donor community and acted friendly to support the sector. Donor community in terms of funds, technical assistance and carrying out researches has supported various programmes and projects.
The government’s aim, we can say, is to make sure that all Tanzanians access education to the tertiary level regardless their family or parents’ economic status. The Higher Education Students Loans Board is one of the strategies to help more students get into colleges and this is vivid in the extension of the loans to students who are under private sponsorship and in private colleges both inside and outside the country. We thank the government for equally considering students of different higher learning institutions and we hope that from now on, more Tanzanians will be absorbed into the higher learning institutions.
It is through this background that ASEKI is founded, to give support to the government in its endeavour in building a sound and sustainable educational system in the country which will help Tanzania achieve its medium and long tem socio – economic development plans.