Reflection on Education for Self and National Reliance: Challenges of Access, Equity and Quality in Higher Learning Institutions in Tanzania



This paper argues that liberalization, and with it the introduction of Private Higher Education (PHE) institutions in Tanzania, has diluted the achievement of the Arusha Declaration, which tried to deal with issues of access, equity and quality in education. Though the PHE institutions in Tanzania outnumber public ones, they enroll less than 22 percent of the total number of students in a year. With majority of Tanzanians living below the poverty line, they cannot finance their higher education and that of their children. The paper contends that though quality is an elusive concept, the present liberalization system in higher education coupled with underfunding of higher education have threatened access, quality and equity in education. In addition, the considerable public subsidy for higher education in Tanzania benefits the already socio-economically well to do families with connections, and that the Universal Primary Education (UPE) needs reconstruction in order for it to deliver good graduates to higher education in the liberalization environment. To advance these arguments, this paper uses secondary data such as documentaries, journal papers and edited books to trace and reflect on the history of education in Tanzania in the lenses of Plato’s theory of education, with emphasis on the Arusha declaration as a landmark that introduced education for self and national reliance, to the present time of quasi-capitalism. The author concludes that though PHE institutions are good and needed, their modus operandi further increases the gap between the haves and the have-not and compromises the quality. The paper proposes a need to revamp the education system in the line of Ujamaa need-based Education for Self-Reliance (ESR) to prepare people to work among different classes as analyzed by Plato. Also, a need for Higher Learning Institutions to offer ethics and critical thinking that would make graduates responsible citizens who understand that what matters is what they can do for themselves and for the nation after acquiring education, and not only the titles and certificates that come in the process.


Key words: Private Higher Education, Self-reliance, access, equity and quality, Ujamaa

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