Education can change people’s lives. And for many, it has done just that. The trans-formative power of education especially for poor rural children is surreal. Numerous examples exists of people climbing the economic ladder due to education in a single generation. The examples are too many for the poor in rural areas not to notice.
But, is this still the reality of today’s education system in Tanzania?
In Tanzania and much of the developing countries, children are looked at as investments. The more education one acquires, the better the chance to land a lucrative job afterwards. This in turn, guarantees a good living wage, retirement (plan) for themselves, and their parents.
Unfortunately in the past decade, this line of reasoning has turned into a trap for many families in Tanzania.
Many rural families spend a lot of capital to send their sons and daughters to schools following this fallacy. In other words many parents are hoping for a good return on their investments–that is not actually there. They hope to create a “safety net” for themselves because none exist through the government. This is especially true for peasant families that don’t receive any type of retirement income after many years of hard work.
For most of the rural kids attending ward secondary schools, the prospect of ending up with a division zero and/or four “if they are luck” is hanging at 85% according to statistics from the Tanzanian Ministry of Education’s data on form IV pass rates for the past 3 years. All of these failing kids are a retirement investment plan that has gone sour for themselves and their parents. If this was a bank doing this kind of business(education utapeli)–many people will be heading to jail for selling a fake product. The parents are losing money twice in this scheme: (1) a shot at a decent life for their kids and (2) a retirement investment for themselves.
The pathetic state of the schools and the schooling conditions is killing the dream that many Tanzanian families have for their children. And the sad thing is–this was not the case from independence all the way to the nineties. Most of the people you see occupying the high-rise offices in Dar came up from poor families through education. Education then, was a much flatter playing field than it is today.
What has gone wrong here?