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Swahili Blogosphere: State of education in Tanzania, M-Pesa and Open Source Movement in Kenya

Higher education students in Tanzania are still finding it hard to adapt to the user-pay system in which they have to directly pay for the costs of university education. Under the Higher Education Sponsorship Loans Board (HESLB) arrangements, the government offers only 60 per cent scholarship to qualified students. Students are required to pay the remaining 40 per cent.

Recently, University of Dar Es Salaam students went on strike demanding 100 per cent government stipend for their studies and additional allowances. University of Dar Es Salaam (UDSM) students claim that most students are unable to pay the remaining 40 per cent of their fees.

Following that two-day strike, the University board suspended all undergraduate students and imposed conditions that all students who want to return must pay the required fee in full before resuming studies.

Chemi Che Mponda has two posts about the issue. In the first one, like many Tanzanians outside the country and to some within the country, Chemi strongly suggests that UDSM students face ‘reality':

Ni mwaka 2007, na siyo miaka ya 1960′s au 1970′s na hata 1980′s. Na wajue maisha ni magumu duniani pote. Hata hapa USA kama huna full scholarship utafanya kazi mbili tatu, huko unasoma ili kuweza kumudu fees. Wenye wazazi wanaoweza kuwalipia ‘full’ ni wachache sana ukilinganisha na idadi ya wanafunzi. Wanafunzi wengi wanasoma kwa mchanganyo wa mikopo, grants, scholarships na kazi.

It is 2007, not 1960s or 1970s not even 1980s. They should know that life is hard. Even here in USA if you do not have full scholarship you have to work two to three jobs a day to be able to pay your fees. Those with parents who can afford to pay for them in full are very few. Most of the students pay for their studies through a combination of loans, grants, scholarships and work

In her follow up post, she posts her readers’ comments. Some outrightly reject students’ demands while others sympathise with them.

Muhidin Issa Michuzi documents sequence of events as they unfold at UDSM. And again, readers’ opinions vary from those who favour user-pay education system as practiced in most Western countries to those who favour full government sponsorship for higher education students as it used to be during the times of Ujamaa:

Kwa kweli nijitahidi kufikiria kama haya baadhi ya maoni humu ndani yameandikwa na Watanzania au Watanza-European, au Watanza-American, kwa kweli ni aibu kubwa sana kwa baadhi ya maoni hayo.
Hivi kwa vile ninyi mko nje au mna uwezo wa kifedha ndio mnafikiri kila mtanzania yuko hivyo? Hata hamjui world bank records zinasema vipi kuhusu average income per capita ya Tanzania ni U$350.00 (kumbuka ni kwa mwaka mzima), ambayo ina maana Mtanzania kwa wastani anaishi for less than a dollar per day?

Pamoja na kuwa na ukweli kwamba baadhi ya hawa wanafunzi wazazi na walezi wao wanaweza kulipa hiyo Tshs.800,000/-, lakini nina imani wengi tu hawana uwezo wa kulipa kiwango hicho, na sasa wanaambiwa walipe kwa muda usiozidi wiki mbili kutokea sasa, kwa kweli serikali yetu imelewa madaraka na labda huu ndio utakuwa mwanzo wa watu kuanza kuchallenge ahadi za wanasiasa, nanukuu, ” hakuna mtoto wa maskini ambaye atasimamishwa au kuachishwa masomo kwa kuwa hana fedha za kulipia ada” Jakaya Kikwete kwenye moja ya hotuba zake kuhusiana na maswala ya elimu bongo.

Kama nilivyosema hapo siku za nyuma, HUU NDIO MWANZO WA TANZANIA KUJENGA MATABAKA… Mungu ibariki Tanzania….

I am not sure if some of the comments here have been written by Tanzanians, Tanzanian-Europeans or Tanzanian-Americans, indeed, some of those comments are shameful.
Just because you are living abroad and you are financially secure, you assume that every Tanzanian is in your position. You don’t even know what the World Bank records say about Tanzania's average income per capita – it is only US$350.00 (mind you this is the annual income) which means an average tanzanian lives on less than a dollar a day.

Even though some parents can afford to pay Tshs.800,000/- [626 USD], I believe that most of them cannot afford. And now they are asked to pay that sum in less than two weeks. Our government is drunk with power and perhaps people will start to challenge politician's promises. I quote “No child from a poor family will either be suspended or expelled because of lack of fees” said President Jakaya kikwete in one of his speeches addressing educational issues in Tanzania.

Like I said before, this is the beginning of creation of classes in Tanzania… God bless Tanzania…

Still on education, Jeff Msangi posts a photo of one primary school “classroom” in Morogoro, Tanzania in a post titled: “What Do You See?” He asks:

Huu ni mfano mmoja kati ya mingi sana nchini mwetu. Hivi ndivyo tunavyoiandaa Tanzania ya leo. Ewe raisi wa nchi,ewe waziri, ewe kiongozi,ewe mwananchi mwenzangu,unajisikiaje kuona hali kama hii? Nini thamani ya uongozi wako?…

This is just one example amongst many in our country. This is how we build modern Tanzania. Mr. President, and you dear minister, and my fellow citizen, how do you feel when you see such a situation? What is the value of your leadership?…

In his follow up post, he offers a solution:

Tufanye nini? Hili ndilo swali ambalo hatuna budi kusaidiana kulijibu kwa pamoja. Jambo la kwanza ambalo naamini tunaweza kulifanya ni kutochoka kuhoji,kukemea na kusaidia kwa kutoa mchango wetu wa hali na mali. Tusiishie kuandika tu huku kwenye mitandao na wakati mwingine kutupiana lawama hata miongoni mwetu sisi wenyewe.Jambo moja ambalo ni muhimu sana ni kumuuliza mbunge kwa mfano wa jimbo hilo la Morogoro Kusini Hamza Abdallah Mwenegoha kwanini hali katika jimbo lake ni ya kukatisha tamaa na kutia aibu kwa kiwango kile? Binafsi nimeshafanya hivyo kwa kumuandikia barua pepe nikiambatanisha picha ile na kuhoji kwa kina,kulikoni? Ingawa bado sijapata majibu na pengine sitopata majibu kamwe nina uhakika kwamba ujumbe umemfikia na hivyo atatambua kwamba dunia inamtizama. Ukipenda kumtumia barua pepe pia unaweza kwa kutumia anuani ya hmwenegoha@parliament.go.tz

Usiishie kwa Mwenegoha peke yake bali pia mbunge wa jimbo lako, kule utokako au kule ilipo familia yako,asili yako nk. Kwa bahati nzuri anuani za barua-pepe,simu za nyumbani, za ofisini, za kiganjani za wabunge wetu zimeorodheshwa katika tovuti ya Bunge la Jamhuri ya Muungano Tanzania.

What can we do? This is the question that we have to help each other to answer. The first thing that I believe we can do is to be persistent in questioning, criticising and helping financially and in kind. We should not just write on the Internet or blame each other. One important thing is to ask the Member of Parliament (MP) for South Morogoro [where the school is located], Hamza Abdallah Mwenegoha, why the situation in his constituency is in such despair. Personally, I have emailed him with the photo in question attached. Although I have not received a reply and perhaps I will not get any reply at all, I am sure he got the message and he knows that the world is watching. If you would like to send him an email, you can use this one: hmwenegoha@parliament.go.tz

Do not stop there, you can also do the same to your MP. Luckily, members of parliament emails, their homes and office telephone numbers, their mobile phone numbers are all available at the parliament of United Republic of Tanzania Website.

While Jeff encourages his readers to write directly to members of parliament, Ndesanjo takes a look at digital tools for activists. He cites online media, blogging and SMS technologies as the latest weapons in the African activists’ arsenal to fight for political, economical or social change. He gives an example of Zimbabwe where one Zimbabwe's online publication Zimdaily has started a campaign of naming all of government officials children living abroad, replete with their work, college or residence addresses. The logic of the campaign being “if you hate the West that much why send your children there?”.

Ndesanjo asks his readers for their views on this particular strategy that Zimdaily is using to fight the current Zimbabwe's government. His readers have expressed divergent opinions on the matter:

… Ni kweli si vizuri kuwapakazia watoto makosa ya wazazi, lakini mzazi anapoielezea dunia kwamba hazihitaji au hazipendi nchi za magharibi ilhali anapeleka familia yake huko huko, ni unafiki uliopita kipimo.
Nadhani wananchi wa Zimbabwe wanajaribu kuwaanika viongozi na familia zao (ambao vile vile ni wala matunda ya mfumo mbovu), kuonesha kwamba “you have to mean what you say”.

… it is not fair to smear the children when their parents makes mistakes. It is hypocricy if the parents tells the world that they do not need or that they hate Western countries yet they send their families to those same countries.
I think Zimbabweans are trying to tell their leaders and their families (who are the beneficiaries of a corrupt/faulty system), that “you have to mean what you say”.

While another reader does not think that this strategy will affect the targeted group:

… lakini si siasa safi kuweka picha na anuani za vijana hao kwenye tovuti. Wangeweza kuwasialiana na serikali za nchi hizo kimya kimya. Labda waneweza kuongelea hilo swala na kueleza sababu zao bila kutoa picha na anuani za watu hao. Na hata kama hao watu wakirudi Zimbabwe, hawatapata shida kabisa, wataendelea tu kula pesa hizo hizo za wizi.

… it is not fair to expose those young people's addresses. They could have consulted with the Western governments where those kids are residing. And even if those people were to be returned to Zimbabwe they would not suffer, instead they would continue to live a privileged life.

On development and mobile phones in Africa, Ndesanjo writes:

Matumizi ya SMS na simu za kiganjani kwa ujumla kwenye harakati na hata shughuli nyingine za maendeleo kama vile kilimo, masoko, biashara, afya, na elimu yanapanuka siku hadi siku. Hakuna teknolojia ambayo ni rahisi kupatikana na kutumika kama simu za mkono kwa nchi za Afrika ambazo zina mtandao mdogo sana wa simu za nyumbani. Simu za viganjani ndio zitakuja kuwa chombo kikubwa cha watu wa kawaida kuingia kwenye zama za habari na mawasiliano. Sio kompyuta za mezani au za mapajani. Kompyuta zao zitakuwa ndani ya simu zao.

The use of SMS and mobile phones in general by activists and in other development activities such as agriculture, marketing, trade, health and education continue to expand day by day. In Africa where the coverage of telephone landlines is not widespread, there is no simpler and easily available technology than mobile phones. Mobile phones will be the ordinary people's access into the new era of information and communication. Not personal computers or laptops. Their computers will be inside their mobile phones.

He cites M-Pesa as a good example of the use of mobile technologies for development. M-Pesa is a new service that allows members of the public to transfer money using SMS.

Maitha, who blogs at Mawazo na Mawaidha, writes about M-Pesa and open source movement in Kenya. Recently, he, used M-Pesa service. He points out an incorrect Swahili phrase used by the service and wonders why they did not consult a Swahili linguist.

He posts links to three Kenyan websites dedicated to the promotion of open source software. He believes that the websites will contribute to the growth of open source movement in Kenya.

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  • http://c-mwakambonjahotmail.comu Charles Mwakambonja

    If the cow has no milk you cannot continue mlking it.Sharing trining costs is part and parcel of the studnts parents/guardians.

  • leonida Tenga Paul

    Ninakubaliana kabisa na wote waliotoa mawazo yao kwamba hakuna maana ya kuendelea kulaumu serikali yetu kwa tatizo hili kwa maana kuwa haisaidii kitu. Tatizo linapotokea kinachotakiwa ni kutafuta njia ya kulitatua na siyo kutafuta nani ana kosa. Ninakubaliana pia na mawazo kuwa wanafunzi wetu walio wengi hawawezi kulipa 800,000 hata wakipewa mwaka mzima. Ninaomba nimpongeze Raisi wetu kwa uamuzi wake wa busara wa kuwarudisha wanafunzi wote chuoni nadhani anafahamu matatizo yetu kuliko mimi. Ninachotaka kusema ni kwamba wambunge wetu wanatakiwa kuliona tatizo hili kama ni mzingo wao mkubwa sana na waubebe. Ni Ukweli usiofichika kuwa haitowezekana kuendelea kuwasomesha wanafunzi wote bure katika ngazi ya Elimu ya Juu kama tunataka maendeleo. Kwanza kabisa wazazi ni lazima waelimishwe na wafahamu kwamba ni jukumu na wajibu wao kuwasaidia watoto wao kama dunia nzima inavyofanya sasa. Kwa kufanya hivyo tutakuwa tumepunguza uwingi wa wazazi wasiokuwa na uwezo kabisa wa kuwasomesha watoto wao. Baada ya hapo kuwe na mpamgo kabambe wa kuwasaidia wazazi kuboresha maisha yao ili waweze kuwasaidia watoto wao. Na mwisho lazima kuna wanafunzi watakaobaki ambao watatakiwa kupata msaada mpaka wamalize masomo yao. Wabunge wa Tanzania Wakumbuke tunatumia muda wetu mrefu sana kuwachagua. Wanachotakiwa kutulipa na kukutana na wananchi na kujua matatizo yao. Sitaki kuwalaumu Wabunge wetu bila ya kuwa na uhakika, lakini nadhani wao ndiyo wanaotakiwa kufanya kazi ya kupunguza hali ya mgomo wa Chuo kikuu cha Dar es salaam kwa kuwafahamu wanafunzi ambao wazazi wao wana uwezo wa kulipa na kiwango ambacho wanaweza kulipa na wale ambao hawawezi kulipa katika majimbo yao na kushauri Uongozi wa Chuo Kikuu na Viongozi wa serikali inavyopaswa kuwa. Ushauri wangu wabunge wote wa Tanzania waende kwenye majimbo yao na wafanye uchambuzi wa uhakika wa uwezo wa kila mwananchi mwenye mtoto anayesoma katika Vyuo vikuu na kushauri Serikali na Uongozi wa Chuo Kikuu ipasavyo. Na ninaishauri Serikali kuwa wahakikishe kila Mbunge awajibishwe itakapoonekana kuwa kuna matatizo katika uwajibikaji wake katika tatizo hili. Ni mategemeo yangu kuwa kwa kufanya hivi tunaweza tukatatua tatizo hili.

    Leonida Tenga
    Mkuza Mitaala
    Taasisi ya Elimu Tanzania.

  • dani mfungo

    mi naona mfumo wa siasa tanzania ndio chanzo cha mambo yote haya.kwani kauli za viongozi wa tanzania zimeigama kwenye chama kimoja,ndio maana hata hili suala la mikopo linashikiliwa sana na ccm.nimeona viongozi mbalimbali wa vyama vya upinzani wakiwalipia wanafunzi mahitaji ya shule ikiwemo ada ya shule.kwakweli nchi hii inaelekea kubaya maana kama asilimia 40 ya wanafunzi tukisomesha na vyama vya upinzani lazima hapo baadaye tukipinge chama kilichopo madarakani,na hii inaweza kusababisha mtafaruku katika nchi hii.

  • edson kawe

    in short my self i hate ccm(chama cha mapinduzi) tanzania

  • dani mfungo

    i cant belive even myself,at a celtain district at Tanzania known as Mpanda district,there are something which is not good happened to the people who live there.
    To travel from one region to another it almost cost 9000 shillings of Tanzania which is equal to 8.4$ U.S.
    But within one region of Rukwa where Mpanda is among of the three district,from mpanda town to sumbawanga distict it cost almost 35000shillings of Tanzania which is approximatery 34.8$ of U.S which is a very big amount to the people who live there because most of the people at mpanda depend on agricuture and per day income in less than 1$ U.S so this is very bad situation.
    I would like to request the government of Tanzania to help there people of that district.
    Just imagine by yourself from one region to another it cost 8.4$ U.S while within a region from one district to another it cost 34.8$ U.S which is enough to travel to four difference regions.
    I thanks very much THE GOVERMENT OF TANZANIA for startig to prepare the road from Mpanda to Sumbawanga town.
    I also request others componies and people to help for this.
    am DANI MFUNGO
    Email;dal_wisser@yahoo.com
    Mob number;+255787473351

  • mchiks2000

    Shida ya Tanzania ina vyanzo vingi. Kwanza watanzania wanapaswa kuondokana na imani kwamba kuzaa watoto wengi ni mipango ya mungu; lazima serikali yetu ikazanie uzazi wa mpango badala ya kuacha watu wajizalie watoto kadri wanavyotaka hali ni masikini. Bila kukazia uzazi wa mpango, mtanzania kuweza kuchangia elimu ya chuo kikuu itabaki kuwa ndoto ya mchana na baya zaidi matatizo ta uhalifu na ukimwi yataendelea kutuandama siku hadi siku. Ni aibu kuona masikini wa tanzania akizaa watoto saba wakati bajeti yetu inachangiwa kwa asilimia 40 na mataifa ambayo watu wake wameijiwekea kikomo cha kuzaa watoto wawili. Viongozi wetu wawe imara kupambana na vyanzo vya maradhi badala ya kutibu dalili.

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    Kuna aliyeisikia SMS Salama?

    http://groups.google.com/group/sms-salama/web/introduction

    “Tuma na pokea SMS ukiwa na uhakika hakuna mmbea atakaye ichungulia”

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