Illiteracy back in full force - govt (Guardian) 2009-04-24 By Erick Kabendera In a sad reversal, Tanzania is now among countries with the highest illiteracy rates in Sub-Saharan Africa, with one in every three of its people not able to read and write. The finding comes as the world celebrates the Global Week of Action On Education for All (Efa), which focuses on youth and adult literacy and life-long learning to raise awareness about the global literacy challenge. The acting director for Adult Education at the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, Salum Mnjagila said in an interview the level of illiteracy has more than tripled from 9.6 per cent in 1986 to 31 per cent last year. The campaigns in 1970s were highly successful and saw the country achieve literacy rates of up to 90 per cent. He said Scandinavian countries which then funded adult literacy programmes in Tanzania faced economic problems in the 1990s and withdrew their support, causing a gradual reversal of the trend, because the government could not support the programmes. ``I think the government didn`t have the money to inject into such programmes and that is when things started getting bad,`` said Mnjagila. Goal number four of Efa calls for a certain level of improvement in adult literacy by 2015 and that it should be 50 per cent better than it was in 2000. If the trend continues, Tanzania could be one of the countries which will not meet the 2015 deadline of reducing adult illiteracy. The goals were agreed on in 2000 at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal, with Tanzania being one of the 164 countries which endorsed and signed the goals. Mnjagila said the national education sector budget priority has been for primary and secondary education despite the fact that adult education and life long learning are included in the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (Mkukuta). ``About 40 per cent of children on average don`t continue with education despite doing well in their examinations In Dar es Salaam, students who even score 100 per cent of pass marks in their primary education don't go to secondary school. As a result, an estimated total of four million adults are also still locked out of basic education,`` he said. Mnjagila said the government has set up a five-year Adult and Non formal Education Strategy (ANFES), which in collaboration with the Civil Society, seeks to help adults, youth and children have access to quality basic learning opportunities. Nderikyo Elizabeth Ligate, who is an adult education advocate and member of Tanzania Education Network (TENMET), an umbrella organization for education civil society organisations, voiced concern over what she termed ``government`s uncoordinated efforts`` to increase the level of literacy in the country. Ligate said in a separate interview that in the 1970s literacy campaign, many adult education aspects were linked, but now small projects are being introduced rather than long term plans. ``The National Service and teachers' colleges were all put on board to eradicate adult and youth illiteracy, but what we are seeing is different now,`` Ligate said. She said the government had no comprehensive plans and budget allocation to implement adult education. ``The government should also strengthen the system so that dishonest civil servants who steal money meant for education are dealt with,`` said Ligate. However, Mnjagila said the government has noticed the inadequacy of budgets for adult education and was moving quickly to address the issue. ``The government recently re-introduced the department of Adult Education at the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, which is a positive sign as it will start getting its own budget soon,`` he said. When Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP) started in 2001, Mnjagila said the expectation was the number of dropouts would decrease, but currently an estimated 1.5 million children are locked out of basic education. Mnjagila said rapid population growth, nomadic societies and some tribes` perception that education was a waste of time are some of the factors causing the drop in the literacy level. Ligate said it is difficult to monitor accurately the current adult and youth education programmes because of lack of plans and the unwillingness of policy-makers to set in place sound policies. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), in every country of the world, the use of reading and writing is part of life because governments require written documents throughout life. It further says that it was vital that everyone is able to take part in these circles of written communication. The organization estimates that over 800 million adults - over 15 years of age - still have not had the chance to acquire literacy, and two thirds of them are women. Such people, it says, are therefore excluded from reading what is important to them or writing what they want to express. ``Yet the progress is still far too slow: at current rates the education goals will not be met in the next 100 years, let alone by 2015,`` Unesco says. Hellen Binagi, Education Programme Coordinator at Oxfam GB in Tanzania, said it was important for the country to act on Efa because it committed itself at the global level. She said the government wants to tell the world that it was doing enough on adult education but education advocates believe that there are still gaps. Adult and youth education are sidelined and there is need for government and other partners to act hastily, said Binagi in a separate interview. ``It`s for all of us as actors for education and development to work together and eradicate illiteracy,`` said Binagi. Mnjagila however said education was crucial to tackling poverty, adding that the level of illiteracy was increasing together with the level of poverty. ``Learning basic life and literacy skills will help reduce poverty. People who know how to read and write can earn more money and support their families,`` said Mnjagila. The Global Action Week is coordinated by the Global Campaign for Education, which exist to ensure that governments and institutions keep their promises and that Education for All really is achieved. In Tanzania, the official celebration of the week will be held at Karimjee Grounds tomorrow. My Thoughts: Something is simply wrong! Tuna TVs kibao, tuna vyuo kibao, mashule mengi, barabara bora, internet n.k and then we have ujinga kila kona what the heck is wrong? Kama Nyerere na Ujamaa aliweza kuifikisha nchi kwenye asilimia 90 what is wrong with these people today? Kisingizio cha ufadhili hakiwezi kusimama kwa sababu hakuna wakati ambapo Tanzania imekuwa mpenzi wwa wafadhili kama hivi sasa! Tunapokea misaada ya kila aina hadi mingine tunaitafutia mahali pa kuichomeka!