The issue of education struck a chord with one of Tanzania’s dailies this week, as lawmakers suggested that corruption has wreaked havoc on the teaching and learning system, while a local weekly charged that illicit drugs and alcohol abuse added to the ruin of students.
Education featured at the top of debate in the Tanzanian parliament during the week when lawmakers focused on shortcomings in the Education and Vocational Training Ministry’s curricula for primary and secondary schools.
Writing under the headline "Which way should Tanzania take toward quality education", the GUARDIAN daily wrote that at one point in time, the education curriculum had focused on developing critical and creative thinking, communication, numeracy, technology literacy, personal and social life skills and independent learning among students.
However, the paper observed that there have since been indications of the syllabus of various subjects in primary and secondary schools being altered, apparently with a view to helping students better cope with global technological changes.
The GUARDIAN asked: “Who would find cause to complain were the new syllabus to involve greater and wider use of computers and the internet as a way of facilitating or indeed smoothening not only teaching but also learning?”
But the paper wondered "If the new syllabus were implemented as expected, how many schools would have found themselves adequately equipped to absorb and benefit from the changes as many of them lacked computers, let alone internet connection.
“The nation has yet to provide enough schools with enough teaching facilities and aids such as classrooms, books, desks and laboratory equipment, all of which would be required irrespective of the type of curriculum.
“What is most at stake here is availability of the requisite resources. Making adjustments to the curriculum alone cannot promise much difference in the standard of education and training offered in the country.
“We need resources for training more teachers especially for deployment in remote parts of the country. As we have long observed, a mere increase in the number of schools does not do us much good,” The GUARDIAN said.
The weekly ‘ARUSHA TIMES' reported that consumption of illicit brews and drugs were greatly contributed to the increase in cases of mental disorders in Arusha Region of northern Tanzania.
Most of the drug abusers being treated at Mount Meru Regional Hospital in Arusha were youth aged between 15 to 35 years. On average, 1,220 cases are referred to the hospital annually.
“These are largely high school, college and university male students,” the weekly quoted nursing officer Angea Gurti of the hospital’s Mental Health Department, as saying.
“The number of narcotic drug abusers and alcoholic cases increases every year. The major challenge here is that many of the patients are too addicted to drop the habit.”
According to the weekly, narcotics consumed by young people included marijuana and heroin
“Drug effects are widely known in the society and the hospital receives on a daily basis several youths brought by parents for counseling. They don’t come voluntarily and that shows how bad the situation is out there,” said Gurti.
On another closely related health issue, The GUARDIAN wrote that the World Cancer Day, globally observed Monday this week, passed unnoticed by many people in Tanzania.
“For most people, it was just another entry on a list of calendar days bearing a special tag commonly taken for granted or not even noticed, despite advertorials ran by the local media a month ahead to sensitise members of the public on the disease,” the daily observed.
“Part of the messages revolved around ways to avoid factors commonly known to prompt or precipitate cancer, among them tobacco and alcohol use, being overweight or obese, going for diet with low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, and some sexually transmitted infections,” the daily recalled.
“One would have thought that the grim statistics given from time to time by the World Health Organisation would have injected enough sense into people to translate into more responsible lifestyles and, by logical extension, much fewer deaths."
At least 7.6 million people succumbed to cancer in 2008, accounting for 13 percent of all deaths worldwide.