Analysts yesterday welcomed the government’s latest education circular.
They said, however, that a number of issues should be addressed in the interests of learners, parents and schools.
Through its Education Circular No. 2 of 2023, the government banned academic camps organised by schools to prepare pupils for national examinations.
Instead, the document dated February 28, and signed by the Commissioner of Education, Dr Lyabwene Mtahabwa, directs schools to put in place instructional strategies in line with academic terms in order to improve pupils’ performance.
The document, which came into effect on March 1, also prohibits schools from taking boarding pupils from nursery school to Standard Four.
“Boarders should be allowed from Standard Five and above. It is prohibited to accept boarders from nursery school and Standard One to Standard Four except under special permission issued by the Commissioner of Education after receiving an application from a stakeholder,” says the document seen by The Citizen.
Various education stakeholders welcomed the government’s decisions, but said more needs to be done.
“This will make it possible for parents’ accountability to be seen, including enabling parents to supervise their children and ensure that they do their homework as required,” said Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) secretary-general Charles Kitima when commenting on the ban on boarders in nursery and lower primary school.
“When parents lack academic competence to help their children, capable parents and guardians in the area should step in and assist,” he added.
Dr Kitima said schools with specific characteristics should be identified to assist parents looking for such institutions, but which were not found in their areas.
“Special permission from the Commissioner of Education should benefit all parents and not only those with influence,” he added.
An education stakeholder, Mr Benjamin Nkonya, said all the parents would like to live with their children at least until the age of 15 in order to establish strong bonds between them.
However, parents have been giving a number of reasons to support their decision to take their children to boarding schools, he added.
“The government should focus on improving the boarding environment for primary school pupils. This is the responsibility of school quality controllers.
“Banning boarding services is not the solution because even senior pupils are not supposed to stay in harsh environments,” Mr Nkonya said.
Tanzania Education Network (Ten/Met) national coordinator Ochola Wayoga commended the government’s decision, saying, however, that boarders should be allowed from secondary school.
“Boarding is preferred by school administrations, but the truth is that children lack the necessary guidance. This is because nobody is sure about the integrity of those given the responsibility of taking care of children.
“Another challenge is that most parents believe that boarding school and the attendant high feed equate to quality education. However, we are shirking our core parenting responsibility,” Mr Ochola added, and said the government should seriously consider allowing boarders from Form One.
Another education stakeholder, Mr Adonis Byemelwa, said the government should focus on the creation of enabling environments for children at boarding schools since parents have concrete reasons for sending their children there.
“Banning boarding services may not be a solution because even the older ones are not immune from a bad learning environment,” he said.
According to him, unreliable househelps force parents to resort to boarding schools, with another important reason being broken families.
“School quality assurance officers should not sleep on the job. They must push for quality boarding facilities instead of prohibiting the services,” Mr Byemelwa said.
Dar es Salaam resident Beatrice Lazaro commended the government’s “long overdue” decision, noting that young children need the close attention of their parents.
She supported calls for borders to be allowed from secondary school.
For her part, Ms Neema Silayo said most boarding schools have an unfriendly environment for young children.
“I was shocked last Saturday when I visited my son at a boarding primary school and found him emaciated. He cried hysterically, begging me to transfer him to a day school. It showed that something is wrong with the school,” she said.