10 Mar 2011

"Are we teaching, or cheating?" The primary education capitation grant in practice in Njombe

This feature article was previously published in the Kwanza Jamii Njombe March issue, in the paper's regular section of investigations - Uchunguzi. - An English translation is below the Swahili



“Je, tunawafundisha watoto au tunawadanganya?"


- Fedha za Uendeshaji wa Shule za Msingi hazigawi ipasavyo
- Shule moja yapata shs 122 kwa kila mwanafunzi (badala ya 10,000/-)
- Walimu Wakuu wadai kushindwa kuendesha shule
- Mfumo kusitishwa mwezi wa sita – Nini kinafuata haijulikani!


Na Wandishi Wetu
Cartoon courtesy of HakiElimu


Tuntufye ni mwanafunzi wa darasa la saba katika shule moja iliyopo jirani na Uwemba. Anakaribia kumaliza shule ya msingi. Angependa sana kuendelea na masomo ila hana uhakika kama itawezekana.


Kinachomjengea mashaka Tuntufye ni kwamba shule yake haina vitabu vya kutosha kwa wanafunzi wote. Wakisoma kiingereza wanatumia vitabu kumi kwa darasa la wanafunzi zaidi ya 50. Wakisoma hisabati, wanatumia vitabu sita tu. 



Je, shule ya mtoto wako ina vitabu vya kutosha? Je, walimu wanapata vifaa vya kufundishia kama vile chaki, kalamu, nk? Vitabu na vifaa kama hivyo ni muhimu sana katika maendeleo ya elimu. Kukosekana kwa hivyo vitu kunasababisha ubora wa elimu kushuka na wanafunzi wanazidi kuwa nyuma katika ulimwengu wa utalaamu. 


Fedha za Uendeshaji (Capitation Grant) za Shule za Msingi ni chanzo kikubwa cha fedha kwa ajili ya shule za msingi. Tangu mwaka 2002, Wizara ya Elimu imeandaa mfumo huu ili kuhakikisha kuwa shule zote za msingi zinapata fedha za kununulia vitabu na vifaa vya kufundishia, pamoja na kugharamia mitihani, utawala wa shule na ukarabati wa majengo. Ni sehemu kubwa ya Mpango wa Maendeleo ya Elimu ya Msingi (MMEM), na inahitaji fungu kubwa sana kila mwaka (Shs bilioni 80 kwa mwaka kitaifa) kutoka kwenye bajeti ya nchi. 


Inavyoandikwa katika sera, kila shule inatakiwa kupokea 10,000/- kwa kila mwanafunzi, kila mwaka. Hivyo, kama shule ina wanafunzi 300, inapaswa kupokea 3,000,000/- kwa mwaka kupitia mfumo huu. Pia, fedha zatakiwa kutumwa mashuleni mara nne kwa mwaka, kila baada ya miezi mitatu. 


Lakini je, katika mkoa wa Njombe, hali ikoje? Fedha hizi zinafika shuleni? Kama zinafika, ni kwa wakati gani? Na, ni kiasi gani kinachofikia shuleni? 


Haya maswali ni muhimu sana katika suala zima la kuelimisha watoto wetu. Hivyo, gazeti la Kwanza Jamii Njombe liliamua kuchunguza maswali haya.


Tumetembelea shule nne, mbili katika Mji wa Njombe na mbili katika Wilaya ya Njombe. Tumeongea na Walimu Wakuu na kutazama maelezo yaliyopo shuleni juu ya fedha zilizowafikia. Taarifa tulizozipata katika shule hizo zinatia mashaka. 


Swala kubwa ni kiasi cha fedha kinachofika katika shule. Katika mwaka huu wa fedha, ambao ulianza Julai mwaka 2010 na kumalizika mwezi wa sita mwaka huu, shule za Mji wa Njombe zimepata Fedha za Uendeshaji mara mbili tu. Awamu ya kwanza walipokea mwezi wa saba, kiasi cha shs 204 kwa kila mwanafunzi (badala ya shs 2,500 iliyotakiwa). Awamu ya pili walipokea mwezi wa kwanza, ilifika shs 489 kwa kila mwanafunzi (badala ya shs 2,500 iliyotakiwa).


Hali ya mfumo huu katika wilaya ya Njombe pia hairidhishi sana. Shule moja iliyotembelewa na gazeti hili katika eneo la Ilembula imepokea jumla shs 488 tu kwa kila mwanafunzi tangu Julai 2010. Na shule nyingine ilionekana kupata shs 122 tu!


Hivyo, hadi sasa, shule zilizo chini ya Halmashauri ya Mji zimepokea shs 593 tu kwa kila mwanafunzi kwa mwaka huu wa fedha. Shule zinatakiwa kupata jumla ya shs 10,000 kwa kila mwanafunzi kabla ya mwisho wa mwezi Juni mwaka huu. Hivyo, imebaki zaidi ya shs 9,400, ambayo shule zinatakiwa kupata ndani ya miezi minne kuanzia sasa. 


Je, fedha hizi zitafika? Sisi na wewe hakuna mwenye jibu. Ila, kama awamu ya tatu na ya nne zitafanana na kiasi kilichotumwa katika awamu ya kwanza na ya pili, shule zitapata shs 1,186 tu kwa kila mwanafunzi mwaka huu. 


Kiasi hicho hakitoshi kununua hata kitabu kimoja. Hakikidhi hata gharama za mtihani moja. Mkuu wa shule moja alisema, “tunadanganya tu, tumegeuza elimu kuwa udanganyifu.” Aliendelea kwa kusema, “we are cheating children, not teaching children” (tunawadanganya watoto si kuwafundisha).


Ukichunguza pia miaka ya nyuma, hali si nzuri. Mwaka jana, shule hizi za Mji wa Njombe zilipata takribani shs 3,850 kwa kila mwanafunzi, badala ya shs 10,000, upungufu wa zaidi ya shs 6,000 kwa kila mwanafunzi. Ndani ya miaka minne ya nyuma, kiasi cha fedha kilichofika mashuleni hakijawahi kutimiza shs 10,000 kwa kila mwanafunzi. Angalau miaka hii, shule zingeweza kununua vitabu vichache au vifaa vichache vya kufundishia, ingawa si kiasi kinachoridhisha wala kinachotakiwa kisera. 


Pamoja na haya, uchunguzi wa Kwanza Jamii Njombe umegundua matatizo mengine makubwa katika uendeshaji wa mfumo wa Fedha za Uendeshaji wa shule za msingi. 


Kwanza, viongozi wa shule hawana taarifa juu ya kiasi kitakachofika shuleni wala ratiba ya awamu. Hivyo, hawawezi kupanga vizuri matumizi ya fedha chache zinazowafikia. Mkuu wa shule moja alisema “kwa namna hiyo, siwezi kuendesha shule.” 


Pili, idara ya elimu ya Njombe mjini ina tabia ya kupunguza kiasi kilichotengwa kwa ajili ya shule ili kuendesha kazi zake zingine. Kwa mfano, barua moja iliyotoka kwa idara hiyo iliwaelezea walimu wakuu kifuatacho:


“Fedha za vifaa vya kufundishia na kujifunza zimetumika katika kugharamia shughuli za michezo UMISHUMTA (yaani Umoja wa Michezo ya Shule za Msingi Tanzania) ngazi ya Halmashauri iliyofanyika Makambako hapo tarehe 08-09 Disemba 2010.”


Kukata Fedha za Uendeshaji wa shule ni kinyume cha sera za taifa. Inatakiwa fedha zote hizi zifike shuleni, ili viongozi wa shule waweze kupanga matumizi yake kulingana na mahitaji ya shule yenyewe, kwani mahitaji yanatofautiana katika mashule tofauti. 


Mwisho, na kubwa zaidi, Walimu Wakuu wa shule zote za msingi chini ya Halmashauri wa Mji wa Njombe walitangaziwa hivi karibuni kuwa mfumo huu wa Fedha za Uendeshaji utaishia mwezi wa sita mwaka huu. Walishtuka sana kupata taarifa hizo kutoka kwa Idara ya Elimu ya Halmashauri ya Mji katika mkutano uliofanyika Januari mwaka huu, hasa kwa sababu hawajui kitakachofuata kuanzia mwezi wa saba. 


“Haijatamkwa kuwa kitafuata nini. Isipokuwa ni wazi kuwa itatusumbua sana,” alisema mwalimu mmoja. Anachohofia zaidi ni kama itarudishwa ada kwa wanafunzi. “Watoto wengi wataacha shule ikiwa hivyo,” alisema. 


Katika Halmashauri ya Wilaya, shule hazijapata taarifa yoyote kuhusu kusitishwa kwa mfumo huu.


Taarifa za kutoka serikali kuu haziko wazi pia. Waziri wa Elimu alieleza mwaka jana kuwa Awamu ya Pili ya Mpango wa Maendeleo ya Elimu ya Msingi inakaribia kuisha, na kwamba Wizara imeshaanza kuandaa Awamu ya Tatu. Lakini hadi sasa haijulikani kuwa Awamu ya Tatu itakuwaje. Fedha za Uendeshaji wa shule zitaendelea kuwepo? Na kama sivyo, shule zitapata wapi fedha za kununua vitabu na vifaa vya kufundishia, na kugharamia utawala, mitihani na ukarabati?


Gazeti hili lilijaribu kuwasiliana na Idara ya Elimu ya Halmashauri ya Mji wa Njombe juu ya uchunguzi huu lakini juhudi za kuwapata zilishindikana.





Are we teaching or cheating our children?
- Capitation grant funds are being distributed properly
- One school received only 122/- per pupil (instead of 10,000/)
- Head Teachers reporting they are unable to run their schools
- The capitation grant will be stopped in June, nobody knows what will replace it!


Tuntufye is a student in the final year of Primary School, not far from the village of Uwemba. As she is close to finishing school, she is very keen to continue with her studies, but she's not sure if it will be possible. 


The problem is, Tuntufye's school doesn't have enough textbooks for all the students. When they're studying English, they have 10 books for a class of 50. And when the same class studies Maths they have only 6 textbooks available. 


What about your school - does it have enough textbooks? And do the teachers have all the teaching equipment they need, like chalk, pens, etc? Textbooks and teaching equipment are vitally important for effective education. If there aren't enough, or if there are none at all, the quality of education being received by  those students will drop and they will find themselves left behind in a world where education is becoming more and more important. 


The primary education capitation grant is the main source of funds for primary schools. Since 2002, the Ministry of Education set the policy that every school should get funds for buying textbooks and teaching equipment as well as for covering the cost of school management, exams and school maintenance. It's a major component of the Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP), requiring around 80bn/- a year nationwide. 


In policy, every primary school is supposed to receive 10,000/- per pupil each year. So if a school has 300 pupils, they should received 3,000,000/-. These funds should be sent to the schools in four installments, once every three months. 


But is this policy being implemented properly in Njombe region? Is this money reaching the schools? If it is reaching them, does it get there on time? And how much gets there?


These are important questions for the education of our children. Kwanza Jamii Njombe therefore decided to investigate.


We visited four schools, two in Njombe Town and two in Njombe District. We spoke to the head teachers in each of the schools and reviewed whatever documents each school had about the funds they've received. What we found is alarming. 


The biggest issue is the amount of funds that arrive at the schools. In the current financial year, which started in July 2010, primary schools in Njombe Town have received funds just twice. They received the first transfer in July, of only 204/- per pupil (rather than the correct amount - 2,500/-). And they received the second in January, of 489/- per pupil. 


The situation is no more encouraging in Njombe District. One school we visited not far from Ilembula has received only 488/- since July. And another reported that they had received only 122/-.


So in 8 months of the current financial year, schools under Njombe Town Council have received a total of 593/- per pupil. They are supposed to get 10,000/- per pupil before the end of June 2011. So they're still waiting for over 9,400/- which they should get within the next four months. 


Will these funds arrive? Neither you nor we have the answer. However, if the next four months follow the same pattern as the first part of the year, these schools will get a total of 1,186/- per pupil this year. 


This is not enough to buy even a single textbook. It doesn't cover the cost of a single exam. One head teacher said "we are just cheating, we've turned education into deception."


If you look back to previous years, the situation is not good. Last year, schools in Njombe Town received around 3,850/- per pupil (rather than the correct amount of 10,000/-). And in the last four years, the amount received by the schools has never reached the 10,000/- as specified in policy. But at least in previous years the money was enough to buy a few textbooks or a small amount of teaching equipment, although not as many or as much as are needed or as much as the policy says they should get.


Kwanza Jamii Njombe's investigations also found out several other serious problems with how the capitation grant system is working.

First, school leaders have no idea how much of the capitation grant is going to arrive, or when it is going to arrive. As a result, they're not able to plan effectively how to use even the small amount of money they do get. One head teacher argued that "in this manner I can't run the school".

Second, the Njombe Town Education Department has the practice of cutting the amount of the capitation grant set aside for each school for use on other activities. For example, a letter seen by Kwanza Jamii Njombe, sent from the Education Department to the schools explained to the head teachers that:

"Money for teaching equipment has been used to cover the costs of the district level school sports event held in Makambako on 8-9 December 20010."

Cutting the amount sent to schools is contrary to national policy. The funds are supposed to be received in full by the school, so that the school management can plan according to the particular needs of that particular school, since every school has slightly different requirements.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we discovered that head teachers of schools under the Njombe Town Council have been informed recently that the capitation grant system will not continue after June 2011. The head teachers were shocked at this announcement, which came from the Town Education Department at a meeting held in January, particularly because they have no idea what will follow when the capitation grant is ended.

"It was not announced what would replace the capitation grant. If it doesn't become clear it will be very problematic," said one teacher. His worry is that school fees will be brought back to replace the grant. "Lots of pupils will leave school if that happens," he stated.

In Njombe District, head teachers had not been informed that the capitation grant was due to end soon.

Even at national level, information on the future of the capitation grant is not clear. The Minister of Education announced last year that the second phase of the Primary Education Development Programme is nearing its end, and that the Ministry has begun to prepare phase three. However, until now it remains unknown what will be included in the third phase. Will the capitation grant remain? And if not, where will schools be expected to get funds for textbooks and teaching equipment and to cover the costs of management, exams and maintenance?

This paper tried to communicate with the Njombe Town Education Department as part of this investigation but efforts to reach them were unsuccessful.