CHADEMA's EDUCATION PLAN IS NOT A HOAX IT IS A LONG AWAITED
In Response to Tayari's Article : Is CHADEMA’s Education Plan a Hoax?
by Deus Valentine
I am writing this in response to the article "Is CHADEMA’s Education Plan a Hoax?" dated September, 16 2010 by Emmanuel Tayari. I took my time considering how I would respond to it. Anyway I feel obliged to respond to it for I believe the arguments upon which the piece of work was based were somewhat hoodwinking. I am not a member of CHADEMA or any political establishment back home. But I have developed keen interest and have been trained in Economics and Diplomacy therefore it only makes sense for me to put a word where I believe the arguments are misleading. I am going to quote some of the particular lines from the aforementioned article to highlight what iIbelieve is obfuscation contained in the article.
CHADEMA has at no point claimed that education will be funded by foreign aid. If anything for the past five years along with other political parties in parliament the party has been an indeed strong advocate of financial independence as was demonstrated by the alternative budgets presented throughout the 4th phase government's stay in office at a point suggesting zero donor funding. The outlook of development financing has changed quite drastically over the recent years especially after the Millennium Summit in 2000. Following suit was the Paris Declaration which among other things stressed the need for donor states to offer financial aid packages that are in consonance with the development priorities of the receiving nation. In Tanzania the declaration ha taken the shape of the Joint Assistance Strategy (JAST). Gone are the days where funding agencies and donor countries could dictate conditions for the receiving nations' aid package. It is a fallacy at this point to say the development priorities of the nation will depend on the interest of the WB and IMF. Development aid is nowadays simply a tool of soliciting warm relations with developing nations with particular ulterior strategic economic motives. So at no point would he nation have to reconcile economic (financial) diplomacy since it is not expected that this particular area would depend on financial aid but even if that was to be the case if we as a nation choose to highlight education as a priority donors would have to meet the Paris/JAST obligations to support it.
"Even If financial diplomacy has to be ignored the only way CHEDEMA can manage to invest 35% of the governments’ budget in education, will be to cut budget dependency to 0% which will mean cutting down 30% of budget contribution from donors; something which is impossible to be achieved in 100 days of their administration as they are promising."
You have not provided statistics that prove that the government would have to spend 35% of the annual budget to invest in education so it remains nothing but an unfounded argument. Cutting dependency has been a priority while in the opposition and I believe it will remain so even as ruling party. Nowhere has it been mentioned that the "free education" policy would be achieved in the first 100 days. Even from a policy perspective it sounds senseless since the first budget only comes after the first 7 months in office.
Looking at the resource based perspective, I oppose the free education for all and instead I propose for partial free education for all. This is based on my belief that tackling our social problems can be only achieved by mobilising more domestic and foreign resources and I don’t believe giving free education for people who can afford it is a good idea.
Offering free education is based on one of the core values of the nation - EQUALITY. If anything, providing free education is an important instrument in ensuring that all children are treated as equals regardless of their financial backgrounds.There is no evidence to suggest that free education creates inequality in society if anything it does the total opposite. I am sure even with provision of free education the well-to-do will still go to private schools which can prove an important source of tax revenue in form of an education cess. Additionally it would allow parents to prepare their children for college by establishing for their children college funds.
The following argument and I believe all the other arguments prior to it generally pose one important argument : THERE IS NOT ENOUGH MONEY OUT THERE TO PROVIDE FREE EDUCATION.
Lastly, we should increase our social Investments by asking those who can, to contribute. I know by contrast CHADEMA believes, the money for free education should all come from public money through taxation; but being realistic I believe that the level of our development at the moment, does not allow us to give free services for all even for those that can afford it, and therefore we should not take any revenue for granted.
I want to simply highlight that free education is more than just a pragmatic policy. Let us consider (in the worst case scenario - from a cost perspective) that there are in Tanzania 1.5 million pupils in secondary school. I have considered only secondary school since primary education is already free so additional resources are mainly meant for extending that to secondary education. So let us also consider that the average fees is Tshs 60,000 per student since it is 40,000 for day scholars and Tshs 70,000 for boarding pupils. This basically means to educate these students for free we need Tshs. 60,000 * 1.5 Million pupils which equals 90,000 million Tshs in other words Tshs 90 billion. So to implement this seemingly alien idea of free education we need additional resources of Tshs 90 billion which doesn't amount to 35% of the budget as it currently stands at Tshs 11 trillion or the 79% of the budget as Kinana and his colleagues attempt to suggest. All this fuss and argument going on is all about an extra roughly Tshs 100 billion. So I believe now the argument should be where do we get the additional 100 billion from.
CHADEMA has promised to go square in on unnecessary government spending. To start with the annual President's Office budget currenty standing at 150 billion will be slashed. The party promises to cancel foreign trips and only go for necessary travels like attending the UN general assembly in September. Assuming the next President (if its not the current one) slashes the foreign trips by half we have in our hands 75billion additional resources. CHADEMA promises to cut the MP salaries by atleast 20% currently standing at 7 million Tshs multiplied by 323 MPs per month. So 20% is 1.4 million Tshs multiplied by 330 (since there are new constituencies this year) that brings us to 462 million mothly making it 5.5 billion additional resources annually. The tally stands at 80.5 billion so far. Government spending on office snacks currently stands at 30 billion assuming it is cut by half we have an extra 15billion.The tally now stands at 95.5billion. So assuming that CHADEMA implements its move to limit the use of luxurious vehicles and unnecessary spending on conferences and workshops (which will be replaced by indoor sessions) you really don't believe it can come up with the rest 4.5billion to make this dream come true???. Remember Kikwete took only a week to decide on spending 7billion to bring the Brazillian national football team. So lets say we still have in government people with the same "financial wit" how much can they come up with in 28 weeks (7 months). I am not going to multiply that by 28.
But thats just one side of the argument. If we look at other potential sources of income. We have learnt from recent studies that the nation looses up to 700 billion as a result of a poor policy regime in the mining sector. Add to that the money lost in scams like EPA (133billion), Tangold and Meremeta (close to 200 billion), Richmond and all those. Remember CCM is spending 50 billion just on the presidential campaign. All we need is twice that for free education!!!!!
I am quite sure by the time the elections come to an end CCM will have spent more than the money needed for this noble move.
In your argument you have mentioned about the need to ensure improvement in the quality of education. Mind you, education stands as one of the top priorities of the MDGS for so long most of the so called achievements reached in the education sector (shule za kata) has depended highly on donor funding be it MMEM, MMES, MMEKWA or the ESDP at large. I can assure you no singular sector has attracted more donor funding than education. It is for this reason I believe we can raise the resources for free education while spending donor funds for improving the quality.
I think the challenge with this noble Idea is that it sounds or to be precise is made (by special interests) to sound so alien. We have been so immersed in UFISADI we even think basic rights like education can not be provided for free. From a human rights' perspective it is the only best way. Education is free at our next door neighbors - Kenya. Give Rwanda 3 years its gonna be free there. Up to high School education is free in the US, the UK and most so called developed nations. In most Scandinavian countries education is free with no limits. One goes through pre- school to becoming a Professor even more than once if so interest without having to pay a single dime because education is regarded as a fundamental inalienable human right. There is no point it sounding so alien in our own country.
Cynics of this noble move attempt to suggest if CHADEMA were to come in power they would cease tax collection while significantly increasing spending. It is the same CHADEMA that has advocated so much in parliament for expanding the tax base suggesting such alternatives as improving the mining regime and consolidation of such sectors as fishing.
As I said earlier I am no CHADEMA steward but I find moral obligation to shed a light on a matter so crucial for our own nation's sake. My advise for those who are against the move is to read carefully CHADEMA's election manifesto. I believe it gives a glimpse on how PRACTICAL REVOLUTIONARY IDEAS CAN BE.
Lets stop this fuss about an extra 100 billion. It is probably less than a party's election expenses. Lets stop being cowards. CHADEMA's EDUCATION PLAN IS NOT A HOAX IT IS A LONG AWAITED FORTUNE.
I am all for this noble move. GOD BLESS Tanzania.