Monday, February 22, 2010

Funding Higher Education in Tanzania: A Mobilizing or a Dividing tool for Tanzanians?

This was my class assignment among the many I have done, I have decided to Dedicate most of my Assignments to Michelle, there are several reason for dedicating them to Her, but let it be enough to say; Michelle, You among the best friends of mine I never met before and thank you for being so...

This paper aims at exploring how the funding of higher education in Tanzania. This paper gives a historical background on how higher education has been funded in the past years and explores the major means for current funding.
The second section of this paper discusses the major ways of funding higher education that are currently in use which include; Loans and grants from government and higher education students’ loans board, private sources- individual contributions (cost-sharing), sponsors/donors, revenues and tax collection, education levy, contracted research and consultancy.

The other section takes a glance at the policies for funding higher education which are practiced and what are the consequences that Tanzania may face in the near future using such means of funding and policies.
It discusses on how the funding process has resulted in dividing Tanzanians; those from well-off families against those from low income families. The findings from this paper shows that, financing of higher education is still a challenge that the state needs to face for the benefit of the coming generation. The paper concludes by summing up the major means of funding and its impact on the fate of many Tanzanians.

Funding for higher education in Tanzania has brought chaos and misunderstandings between the students, government, institutions and in fact with the studying schedule too. This is caused by the lack of clear higher education funding policy in the country. It was until 1992 after the creation of the new ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education (MSTHE) that the need for the policy to fund higher education became necessary. (MSTHE, 1999)
The Tanzania government has been experiencing problems in funding higher education apart from the cost-sharing policy, it is either way that, the policy is toothless or else there is poor supervision in the implementation of the policy which as the result has led to “free loans and grants” disbursed to both; those qualifying for the loan and the other group which do not qualify.

Other problems include the influx of new enrollment in the higher education against un-coordinated system of including them. There is also a major problem of including the private universities in the system of loans from the government; such situation has also contributed to the high enrollment number of higher education students to be served by Loan board. (MSTHE, 1999)

Such a situation has caused majority of poor individuals to miss access to higher education since they can not afford paying even for the quarter of the costs.
Ishengoma (2008, p.2) puts it this way… The Tanzania government-despite of the existence of cost sharing in higher education policy for the past 15 years and its limited financial ability to finance public higher education because of many competing needs- still shoulders the burden of financing both public and private higher education through disbursing interest free loans and grants through the Higher Education Students’ Loans Board (HESLB) and the Tanzania Education Authority (TEA). The current system of financing public higher education is in dire need of being revisited to avoid further looming crises in the higher education sector.
The current means for financing higher education in the country which works under the cost-sharing policy include these; Loans and grants from government through higher education students’ loans board, private sources- individual contributions (cost-sharing), sponsors/donors, revenues and tax collection, education levy, contracted research and consultancy.

Therefore, this paper explores a variety of financing systems of higher education the country, its availability and accessibility, who benefit and what to be done.
Loans from government through higher education students’ loans board
This is a way of financing higher education by the government. It is an effective way of funding higher education which can be accessed by majority and increase equity in education from the low income families to the high income families. The effectiveness will depend however on the effectiveness on “means testing” and reduced misconduct by the board personnel. The tool however, has now proved failure to high misconduct of the board personnel, poor means testing, lack of proper and true information for the applicants and low follow-ups on the set criteria.
Private sources and individual contributions (cost-sharing)

It includes the self financed students and those financed by government by percents, it is also another effective way which if used properly could increase students accessibility to higher education but very unfortunately, this has been denied and therefore, everyone need to be included in the grants and loan scheme. Such claims were difficult to find out any written document to support this argument.

In the year 2004-2005 after the effective take-off of the loan board, all students were supposed to be under the board, no matter who was being financed by who, it was at this point when the role of the Sponsors and donors lost its meaning. This decision was never taken with care, the number of students to be sponsored under the board was also overlooked, the outcome was that, in one moment, the boards found laden with more students that it could handle. Sponsors and donors in this sense refers included, religious foundations and organization, community based organizations and individuals who were sponsoring students at different level.
Donors and sponsors (those who were helping individuals) withdrew from financing higher education at the level of individuals and their role was turned to finance direct to the government.

Revenues and Tax collection plus Education levy
This means of financing higher education could have been a solution to the current problem only if the government could have played its role in the collection of revenues and tax and proper allocation of the fund in the higher education.
There is very low effort by the government to collect loan paybacks from the graduates who were under government sponsorship although the higher education funding policy states vividly that, the graduate shall be given grace period of one year before starting paying the loan which will last for ten to fifteen years, if the cash could have been collected from those graduates it could have helped the higher education finance more students, hence increasing accessibility to higher education. Ishengoma (1998) clarifies that the while domestic revenue has increased by 55% from 2000/01-2005/06, and during the same period Government finance registered consistent deficits between revenue and expenditure implying the Government’s inability to adequately finance critical sectors including higher education and also inability to control its expenditure.

Current policies for funding higher education

There have been several policies formulated since the creation of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education in 1990s, other policies and utterances from political leaders have also been given out, the major aim was to improve the process of financing higher education. Sources of financing higher education include these; contribution by the owners (infrastructures, buildings and other resources), contribution by beneficiaries, the government ( as main financier provide loans and scholarships), private sector ( encouraged to invest on education), individual and families and finally contribution by higher education institutions.
The 1999 policy as narrated in the number 2.2.5 articulates that; the big imbalance in students’ enrollment between the sciences and humanities shall be addresses. Currently, the policy was used as a determinant of who should get the loan for the on going academic year 2009-10.

The policy as narrated in 2.2.6 states that, deliberate action shall be taken towards increased financing of higher education in general and of higher education institutions in particular in order to facilitate pursuit of the missions of which they each are established. Increased funding towards the critical minimum of 1 to 1.5 percent of GNP shall be the goal. This policy has done nothing to its claims as Ishengoma ( 2008 p.6) narrates that, while domestic revenue increased by 55% from 2000/01-2005/06, during the same period Government finance registered consistent deficits between revenue and expenditure implying the Government’s inability to adequately finance critical sectors including higher education and also inability to control its expenditure. In such situation therefore, it is difficult to expect a miracle to happen in our higher education financing systems.

Another policy is found in 3.2.1 of the MSTHE document of 1999 demanding that, curricular emphasis on higher education shall be placed on programs that are geared towards responding to the changing world of sciences and technology and the corresponding ever –changing needs of the people… as agriculture will continue to be the back-borne of the economy, agricultural related disciplines and technologies shall be given priority. My doubt is, what is the meaning of having good policies with poor teaching technology and manpower? The execution of this policy may remain in the writings than in practical.

3.2.3 Policy states that, the education sector shall be given priority in allocation of resources by the government. Training and research objectives shall target the development and promotion of a strong indigenous base of science and technology to enable Tanzanians solves their development problems.

If Tanzania truly wants to produce strong indigenous base of science and technology, some of the policies needs or should be removed and that, there must be one source of information to avoid current “conflict of interest”. For example, while the Loan board claims that, there is no enough fund to fund all students, the head of the state stands out and declare that, no one student shall miss the university or chased out because of lacking loan.

Also the 5.2.5 policy states clearly that, the student relationship shall be that of the sponsor-sponsoree based on contract terms. The terms shall be clear to all parts. Take a simple loan form used for the academic year 2009/10, the instruction were not clearly stated, it was based on one side, the form dictated the Sponsoree( Student) to fill it quickly and agree to everything written in there, failure to do so or disagreeing meant that, you did not want to get the loan.

Since there are more than 15 policies, this paper can not go through all these but where necessary a policy can be copied as a reference.
How the Process of financing higher education divide the community

i) Equity
These policies do not allow elasticity- that is do not consider other cross-cutting issues that individual may face, example, the claim that, all science students shall be given priority in disbursement of loan and admission in the higher education does not consider students who come from villages where there have never been a laboratory and science materials are rare, therefore, it is vivid that, majority can not enjoy the loans from the loan board.

ii) Accessibility of Loans

Majority of Tanzanian students comes from rural areas where there is limited access to information, the loan board demands students to either download Loan forms from the website or collect them from the post offices, two, the particulars needed to qualify for the loan include certificates of birth, residents, property ownership which these parents do not have, therefore, failure to attach the required information result in missing the loan and miss the access to higher education. Dachi (2000, p.148) copies Woodhall (1989a, 1989b and 1989c:78) that
… no hard evidence to support the argument that, loans deter low income students, ethnic minorities and other marginalized groups from participation in higher education, the system of mandatory grants is restrictive and it is still the upper income families who are most likely to benefit from higher education despite the system of means tested grants.

iii) Quality of Education provided

Though the policies insist on producing our own scientist to cater our own problems there is great doubt about because, most of the studying time is spent on demonstrating for access to loans and good learning facilities.
Two, the increased number of students is inversely proportion to the available facilities starting with accommodation, lecture room, seminar rooms, libraries and the teaching staff. For example, the University of Dar es Salaam has established two learning centers; Center for Continuing Education (CCE) and UDSMAVU Learning Center in 2001 has changed nothing to the lecturer’s pedagogical skills.

Galabawa (2005, p.84) show how technology can be integrated in higher education without segregating others as he says; the first step out of this trap would be to increase enrolment in higher education level in such a manner that, overtime, Tanzania can move into the category of “dynamic leaders” group: with the requisite human-capacity potential to trigger-off technological achievements through new ideas, research and knowledge.

iv) The concept of scarcity

Tanzania can not ignore the truth that, the supply of resources in our production is so limited and therefore, there are extra power needs to be employed to include both students from low income families too. We need scientist, teachers and engineers who will take us to somewhere else, therefore, the following must be included in financing higher education as Galabawa outlines them; (i) the end product (
graduated students) must be allocated among competing uses, assuming that behavior is rational, (ii) resources used in education provision have alternative uses,; thus it is possible to use the same kinds of resources to make different kinds of goods for Tanzanians with the education system itself and outside the education system.
The question comes in, should the state make the higher education scarce so that we may have quality education or allow the influx into higher education and miss the quality? Need more research especially on the rate of return to education, if the higher education has high rate of return both; private and public return regardless of quality let it be, but if not, the state therefore need to rephrase the policies and conduct of financing higher education.

v) Who benefit: Private and Public Returns

When it comes to the question of who benefit from the process of financing higher education, one can conclude that, it is the upper class because the loans scheme especially from the government as the main financier of education is being implanted without taking into consideration other issues like; the level of income of the families, as Dachi( 2000) copies Omari (1994) that…the loans schemes in Tanzania is implemented without taking into consideration family income levels, thus failing to institute a different criterion for disbursing loans between relatively, those who are considered as high income students and low income students.

Private Returns

Private returns refer to those benefits that an individual have after completing education (higher education in this context). There are several returns including;
a) Earnings- the increase of productivity goes direct with the increasing in earnings.
b) Quality Employment- with higher education, one is not going to seek for any job but a quality one, one therefore becomes more productive for himself but also for the community. Currently, more jobs are available for increased job-specific human capital among those with higher levels of education
c) Social status – human being likes being appreciated, that they exist, so when it comes to higher education individual would like to acquire it so as to increase their social status in their working society.
Public Returns
This refers to those benefit of an individual through which the public benefit from, these benefits include the following;

a) Economic growth- education has effect on the growth of the economy of any country in that education increases human capital. More highly educated individuals mean more analysts, and inventors, and scientists working to increase more human capital through the development ideas and technologies and proper implementations of those ideas. Hence more and quality goods are produced for the growth of a stable economy.
b) Development of good citizenry- this benefit need to be understood with a close eye, it is believed that, the society with more educated elites the chances of misconducts is lowered, therefore, these people will understand the importance of voting, cleanness and other society related issues.

The findings

Several findings have been identified from the discussion above; the current financing system do not have a specific criteria of deciding who deserves what, as the result, even the students from well-off families have been included the loan board, two, there is a need of having a guaranteed system of repaying back of loans, scholarships should also be aimed to those in need whose ability to afford the cost of education is almost zero.

Other findings are that, the political statements should be filtered from policy implementation because if this is allowed, the system will always be twisted by those political utterances and statements.
It is also noted that, the connection between education and opportunity has oriented the discourse around those who are most in need of enhanced opportunities. Low income, minority, and disabled students are often the targeted group in this context, and the same general focus has been applied to low-wealth or low-income taxpayers. (Berne& Stiefel…)

What to be done

The financing system in Tanzania has brought the education sector at dilemma, the state is struggling to move forward but there are pitfalls in the financing system that needs to be addressed.

There are several options that the state can deploy to enhance the current financing system, the following may be assistance per the finding; one, finance higher education out of taxation on a small scale, two, the government inter into contact with banks to provide educational loans to students just the same as “Mabilioni ya Kikwete” which was the loans taken from the bank, or else, create a special bank for generating, disbursing and collecting student loans. three, rely on private finance for students who comes from well-off families and, perhaps, a small number on scholarships for Low income, minority, and disabled students an or low-wealth or low-income taxpayers. (Dachi, 2000, Barr, 2004)
Other models of financing higher education in the country include these ones;

a) Potential Graduate Employers

This includes direct donations to the higher institutions from these graduate employers, students and professorial chairs sponsorship.

b) Alumni

These are graduate students who did their studies in that particular institutions, if well organized they can be usefully utilized to generate income for the institutions.

Concluding Observation

Having explored the policies for financing higher education, it is strongly recommended to have up-to-date policies which will have clear distinctions criteria of who deserves what and drop the current system of relying on paper information.
The government may opt for a system of tracing back the financial capabilities of parents therefore when it comes to means-testing it will be easier to come out with true deserving names.

Mshana, Elli
M.A Education Student
UNiversity of Dar es salaam- Tanzania

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