Citizens are optimistic about the promise of free education: 9 out of 10 (88%) are confident it will be implemented on time and 3 out of 4 (76%) believe that providing education for free will improve quality. Despite this general optimism, 15% of citizens believe that free education will not improve quality, as the surge in enrolment will stretch resources.
These findings were released by Twaweza in a research brief titled A New Dawn? Citizens’ views on new developments in education. The brief is based on data from Sauti za Wananchi, Africa’s first nationally representative high-frequency mobile phone survey. The findings are based on data collected from 1,894 respondents across Mainland Tanzania (Zanzibar is not covered in these results) between 10 December 2015 and 2 January 2016.
The announcement by President Magufuli on free education, including the abolition of contributions, is timely. Too many parents are already paying contributions at school. In total, 9 out of 10 parents report paying contributions (michango) to schools; 80% report paying TZS 50,000 or less annually, while 8% report paying over TZS 100,000. Although almost all parents pay these contributions, half of them (49%) do not think the contributions are used as intended and 6 out of 10 (58%) think that the contributions are not authorized by the government. A large majority of parents (89%) think that teachers use the contributions as an extra source of income.
Schools ask for these contributions for a range of needs, according to parents: security (66%), tests (57%) and desks (34%), and a smaller share goes to graduation parties (4%) and school trips (4%). Despite the announcement to ban these contributions, the Capitation Grant funds that are now being delivered directly to schools and which are the main source of funding for schools, may not be enough to replace contributions. Capitation Grant funding is allocated to textbooks and other reading / reference materials (40%), writing materials (20%), administration (10%), and examination papers and printing (10%). So schools have discretion on limited amounts of these funds, and many of the items parents currently pay for may not be covered by the Capitation Grant.
Despite their optimism about the promise of free education, citizens are divided about the quality of primary education over the past ten years. Half of them (49%) think it has improved while another third (36%) think it has deteriorated. About one in ten (14%) think there has been no change.
Authors: Sana Jaffer
Organizations: Twaweza East Africa
Type: Policy brief
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