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To reach those who are furthest behind in society, it is important to institute a system of just and fair social economic development. This is key especially during these tough times of the COVID-19 pandemic where global health and economic systems have been significantly disrupted. Through the years that I have been working with communities, I have observed how important it is to have groups of people who are empowered and have a voice and the capacity of being active players in raising concerns that affects their wellbeing. In this regard therefore, while pursuing a ‘leaving no one behind’ agenda it is paramount to ensure that community members who are most vulnerable are empowered.  

The year 2020 marks a decade of action towards attaining the 17 global goals for Sustainable Development. World leaders have been called to deliver the SDGs by 2030 and to announce actions they are taking to advance the agenda. The implementation of SDGs commenced in January 2016 with a view of accelerating global actions to end poverty, create prosperity and protect the planet. As opposed to MDGs, SDGs are shaped with a unique character of being holistic and universality, bringing onboard people, prosperity, planet, peace and partnerships. The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres asserted that “The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals are our collective response to building a fair globalization”. This implies that, the national, regional and global collective actions must be well coordinated to ensure SDGs are attained and the promise of having a fair globalization where no one is left behind is achieved by 2030.

Thus, as the pledge to “leaving no one behind” connotes the commitment made by the world leaders, it is an undoubted that people who are the most marginalized cannot be passive and must be empowered and engaged in the monitoring, review and implementation of SDGs so that the realisation of these global goals reach first those who are furthest behind. To advance this, citizen engagement approaches must then be employed, one of the approaches that has been widely used by different development practitioners is Social Accountability.

Social Accountability (SA) encourages citizens to proactively demand for accountability on the use of public resources. It emphasizes the inclusion and participation of citizen particularly those who are marginalized, those who are more vulnerable with social stress and high chances of missing the benefits of services provided by the government. The World Bank (2004) defines Social accountability as actions initiated by citizen groups to hold public officials, politicians, and public service providers to account for their conduct and performance in terms of delivering services, improving people's welfare and protecting people's rights.

The common tools used to deploy social accountability include public expenditure tracking, participatory policymaking and budgeting, citizen monitoring and evaluation of services that promote transparency and accountability in budgeting and service delivery. For a successful social accountability intervention, there must be an enabling environment guided by four pillars elucidated in detail below. In light of those pillars the nexus between the social accountability and aspiration of SDGs to leaving no one behind will be established.

The first pillar of social accountability demands having organized and capable citizens groups and a government that is engaging. It is a truism that unorganized citizens can neither exercise their rights nor be able to participate in governance processes including holding duty bearers to account on the use of public resources allocated for service delivery or to ensure progressive and constructive relationships.

Thus, communities must know what SDGs are and what they aim to achieve and hence contribute to it. For example, at the very grass root level, citizens can participate through attending village meetings and it is through such platforms they would know what the government aspires to achieve locally, nationally and globally. However, if the existing structures limit this, it would be difficult for the voices of vulnerable communities to be heard.

The opposite is also true. In my experience through conducting social accountability interventions in Tanzania, I have witnessed that in areas where people were not part of the planning process, delays in development projects and sometimes reluctance by communities to support development projects is commonly experienced. This is no different when it comes to SDGs, communities must be empowered so that they clearly understand what they will offer and hence contributing to their realisation and by doing so the aspiration of inclusiveness will be attained.

The second pillar is responsive government, this is vital to enable social accountability and so is to the implementation of SDGs. Given that the government is the primary actor responsible to deliver SDGs by 2030, it ought to be responsive and ensure that it creates democratic spaces for its people and avail information related to the implementation of the SDGs of which citizen will use to monitor its realisation.

Last year I got the opportunity to participate in the CSO taskforce which was responsible for the country SDGs implementation report writeup (Voluntary National Review report). One of the major gaps observed included the understanding of the SDGs by the communities and mostly the vulnerable groups. This posed challenges into measuring the extent to which the implementation of the SDGs in the country has achieved towards elevating the marginalized groups.  Considering that 2030 is just ten years away, it is vital that the information related to SDGs is trickled down to the very grassroot communities so that they own the goals and hence take an active role towards contributing in their review, monitoring and implementation.

The third pillar encourages access to information, the importance of accessing reliable and credible information to exert social accountability cannot be overstated. Governments are obliged to avail information which would enable citizens and other civic actors to constructively engage in the course of participating in the development agenda including SDGs. In light of the experience shared above, CSO actors encountered a challenge of getting latest, credible and reliable information during the process of developing the report on VNR for SDGs, such information would gauge the status of SDGs implementation in the country, as a result we were required to rely on outdated information.  Although this was not the case in all goals, goal 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institution) posed a huge challenge regarding information on implementation progress – this challenge was as well acknowledged by the government in their SDGs VNR report.

The fourth pillar acknowledges the role of culture and context within which SA is practiced. Social accountability requires cultural relevance, it must be understood and framed according to the unique values, language, and practice of the people within which the initiative is taking place. This is the best way through which the practices of social accountability can be initiated, mainstreamed, accepted and sustained in each context. Given that Tanzania is a Swahili speaking nation, deliberate actions must be taken by the government to translate the SDGs to be popularized and to fit our context. This will not only increase understanding of the goals by the communities but also enhances the participation and ownership.

To wrap up on the pillars and the nexus between social accountability and SDGs, it is important to note that, the four pillars of Social Accountability are interrelated, thus, for the social accountability ecosystem and as one of the approaches to empowering marginalized communities, each pillar prerequisite conditions must be observed to consent a systemic operation of the social accountability.

In line with this, Civil Society Organizations which have traditionally been working to empower communities must couple the efforts by the government. Their interventions, therefore, must demonstrate community empowerment to ensure attaining of milestones at the local level where most marginalized communities reside.

Community empowerment, therefore, should be more than the involvement, participation or engagement of communities. It should demonstrate community ownership and action that explicitly aims at social and political change. It should denote the ability of re-negotiating power in order to gain more control, and thus if some people are going to be empowered, then others will be sharing their existing power and giving some of it up (Baum, 2008). It is imperative to note that in empowering communities, power shift must be concentrated into complementing marginalized capacities to be able to organize themselves so as to take more control in making important decisions that affect their lives. This will include deciding on how resources can be distributed and allocated to serve their interest which in turn will uplift their welfare.

Once communities feel empowered, they will be able to organize into capable groups which will be at the forefront of demanding for accountability, this will include the ability to gather information relating to SDGs and use such information to directly engage with duty bearers and demand that the programmes or projects implemented serves community interests in order to leave no one behind. For instance, SDG 3 on good health and wellbeing – encourages communities to be in a position of linking what targets are set and how budgets have been allocated and distributed to ensure the realization of the same.

I therefore conclude by insisting that achievement of inclusive and people centered development, a kind of development that considers those who are furthest behind, communities must be empowered. As highlighted above, application of community empowerment tools must deliberately continue to be employed by all actors in the development ecosystem. This would not only bring about fairness in the development but also reducing inequality gap. Thus, I call upon all actors involved in the monitoring, review and implementation of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development to accelerate efforts through putting in place a well-coordinated mechanism while ensuring creation of community spaces for marginalized to engage is maintained so that no one is left behind.

About the author

Prisca Kowa is a dedicated development practitioner with advanced expertise in public policy, governance, and accountability. She currently works at Policy Forum as a Senior Officer for Local Governance and Stakeholders Relations.

Photo credit: Reinout

 

Findings have revealed that the need for promoting women leadership was as important as creating an enabling environment for women to hone their leadership qualities. Despite umpteen measures to empower women and see them in leadership positions, the representation of women in such positions across the globe is quite upsetting. Women make up just 4 percent of CEOs in the world’s 500 top companies, even a lesser percent of heads of government at national level belongs to women and the least percent of international leadership positions is occupied by women in the world today.

Absence of gender equality in leadership positions not only hampers the due progress in every sphere but also costs the global economy substantially. Hence, there is a need to promote women leadership. Corporate houses or companies need the best of leaders and it will not be fulfilled if the recruitment pool excludes women. Statistics show that women have not yet reached their full potential in leadership positions.

A lot of debate has sparked up because now more than ever people are seeing the relevance of women in leadership.

Africa still is the continent with the lowest number of women leaders on the globe. It is high time for the Africans to speak out for their beloved continent and find pragmatic solutions to this problem. Women are supposed to be part of the decision-making process across all African countries. Nobody can speak to the issues of women more than women and women have expertise in various fields and so they can speak on other issues as well.

Speaking over the weekend through a virtual debate organised by  African Young Ladies Change Makers Network, that involved young ladies from six African countries namely Tanzania, South Africa, Zimbabwe, The Gambia, Nigeria  and Ghana, a Tanzanian Lady, who is also a Gender Focal Point with the Policy Forum in Tanzania, Ms. Iman Hatibu has urged Tanzanian young ladies to vie for high political positions in the coming general elections so the they can represent the unrepresented big part of women is society.

“There are many challenges facing women in our community but are not spoken out, are not revealed because there is no enough representation in decision and policy making platforms,” she explained.

Ms. Hatibu further noted that the challenges facing women will only be echoed out by women themselves. “That’s why we encourage 

women to be in leadership, decisions, and policy making positions so that they can be in good position to fight and defend for their essential rights and needs.”

She has, however, advised her fellow young ladies and women that before vying for any political posts they first need to be knowledgeable and well informed on different matters going on in the communities they are living.

And because of that, Hatibu has said that there was need of having a dialogue that would raise awareness and find ways on how women can effectively participate in political platforms, nationally, regionally, and internationally.

“I call upon role model women leaders to render support by grooming the emerging young lady leaders, so that they can also become successful and role models like them,” she urged.

“I also urge young ladies and women who aspire for political posts in the coming general elections to seek for intellectual support as well so that they can learn crucial leadership skills.”

For her part, Angela-Genevieve Nhlamulo Ngobe from South Africa said “A Woman is not just a female but she is a person who has choices. Choices means she has the ability to pursue every opportunity given to her. Political office like motherhood is a choice a woman can make. I think it is very important for women to lead and take up politics because politics has the power to shape their lives.”

She further noted that women's voices are important because they bring their lived experiences to the table which allows policies regarding women to be shaped by women. I believe that a woman feminist voice brings a distinct voice on how to govern. Women have always played a role in leading and shaping the continent

However, their labours have been erased and so have their belief that a woman cannot lead. I think it's time for African women to come in front and take their place in political offices. “I believe that a woman can do it all and be successful.”

Benevolence Sindwe Mbano from Zimbabwe believed in the power of dialogue. “Women should come out and speak about their issues and challenges facing them to encourage each other and find solutions together.”

According to a new International Labour Organisation (ILO) report published for International Women’s Day on 8 March,2020, women are still underrepresented at the top, a situation that has changed very little in the last 30 years. Fewer than one third of managers are women, although they are likely to be better educated than their male counterparts. The report shows generally that education is not the main reason for lower employment rates and lower pay of women, but rather that women do not receive the same dividends for education as men.

“A number of factors are blocking equality in employment, and the one playing the largest role is caregiving." Manuela Tomei, Director, ILO Conditions of Work and Equality Department.

The Quantum Leap report shows that achieving gender equality will mean policy changes and actions in a range of mutually reinforcing areas, and it points to measures that can lead towards a transformative and measurable agenda for gender equality.

 “We need to implement a transformative agenda that includes enforcement of laws and regulations – perhaps we may even need to revisit those laws and regulations - backed by investment in services that level the playing field for women, such as care and social protection, and a more flexible approach to both working hours and working careers. And there is the persistent attitudinal challenge of attitudes to women joining the workforce and their place in it,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.

 Meanwhile, the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action flagged 12 key areas where urgent action was needed to ensure greater equality and opportunities for women and men, girls and boys.

It also laid out concrete ways for countries to bring about change. Various Gander and Women Rights Stakeholders works with governments and partners to ensure such change is real for women and girls around the world. Education is essential for women to reach gender equality and become leaders of change.

According to the Beijing Platform, once in leadership roles, women make a difference. But they are under-represented as voters and in top positions, whether in elected office, the civil service, corporate boardrooms or academia.

The media plays a significant role in perpetuating and challenging social norms that condone discrimination or violence against women. It can objectify women but also showcase strong women leaders and protagonists who can become role models in a society.

PREAMBLE: We, the members of the Tanzania Tax Justice Coalition (TTJC), a Civil Society Coalition advocating for fairness in taxation, having done a series of review sessions and consultations on Domestic Resource Mobilization (DRM) in relation to the National budget during the COVID-19 pandemic,  have considered the proposals presented in March 2020 by the Minister of Finance and Planning for 2020/21 which emphasized raising domestic revenue collection from TZS 23.05 trillion in 2019/20 to TZS 24.07 trillion in 2020/21. We: (MORE)

 

This submission from the Policy Forum (PF), a network of 76 Tanzanian NGOs brought together by their interest in public money accountability, is a continuation of efforts to contribute to the budget process, discourse and performance. Compiled by its Budget Working Group, the submission focuses on key public sectors namely; education, health, agriculture, youth and water and presents crucial concerns related to resource mobilisation, allocation, and execution and makes recommendations worth consideration in the Parliamentary deliberations. Being the final year of the Five-Year Development Plan  (FYDP  II 2016/17 to 2020/21), the submission takes stock of what has been accomplished across the education, health, agriculture, youth, and water sectors since the plan’s inception and, humbly offers some issue worth considering in the formulation phase of the next development plan. The submission also puts forth other aspects that are in need of concerted interventions in relation  to budgeting, planning or policy. This submission  also  comes  at  a time of uncertainty caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic that has resulted in unprecedented devastation and a worldwide economic standstill of which Tanzania is not invulnerable. The health, education agriculture and tourism sectors have taken a massive hit and livelihoods both in the formal and informal sectors have also been negatively affected. Click here to read more.

Recently Policy Forum did an analysis to assess the extent to which Tanzania’s mining fiscal regime is aligned with the Africa Mining Vision (AMV). The AMV, which was adopted by the Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) in February 2009, serves as a regional policy tool to guide the development of mineral resources in Africa. The AMV’s overarching goal is to create a regional framework that supports a “transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of Africa’s mineral resources to underpin broad based sustainable growth and socio-economic development”.

The Action Plan for implementation of the AMV was approved in December 2011. The Action Plan comprises of 9 programme clusters of activities. These are: mineral rents and management; geological and mining information systems; building human and institutional capacities; artisanal and small-scale mining; mineral sector governance; research and development; environmental and social issues; and linkages and diversification. The Action Plan provides guidelines for prudent, transparent and efficient development and management of Africa’s resources.

This analysis focuses on Cluster 1 of activities under the AMV Action Plan which deals with mining revenues and mineral rents management. The first issue addressed by Cluster 1 is how to design fiscal terms which are fair and equitable to both the investor and the resource owner (the Government on behalf and in trust of people). The second issue is how to design and implement policies and strategies that ensure the most efficient and productive use of revenues accruing from the mining sector.

The AMV Action Plan under cluster 1 acknowledges that the greatest challenge facing governments when designing fiscal frameworks is striking a balance between obtaining an optimal share of the revenues and attraction of investment. While governments wish to maximize the value of mining investment to fund socio-economic infrastructure and other national development priorities, mining companies seek for appropriate compensation for the high risks associated with mining projects. In practice, mining companies have more expertise, information and experience in the mining sector than most governments in Africa do. Consequently, fiscal provisions in mining concessions are not optimized. It has been reported that the extractive sector is a primary source of illicit financial flows (IFFs) in Africa, accounting for more than half of Africa’s IFFs. This illustrates the potential losses of financial flows from unequal contracts in the extractive sector in Africa.

Based on this state of affairs, the AMV Action Plan concludes that mining fiscal regimes in most African countries are characterized by overly generous tax holidays and poorly designed royalties and additional profit taxes. Further to that, mining companies devise several techniques to avoid and evade payment of taxes, royalties and levies. Consequently, there is a widespread sense that Africa does not obtain commensurate compensation from the exploitation of its mineral resources.

The AMV Action Plan also acknowledges that there are several challenges facing African countries in managing revenues accruing from mining sector. These include volatility of commodity prices, non-renewability of resources and equitable sharing of such revenues. In this regard, Cluster 1 goal is to create a sustainable and well governed mining sector that effectively garners and deploys resource rents.

In 2017, the Tax Justice Network-Africa (TJNA) in collaboration with Policy Forum (PF) launched a study in Dodoma, Tanzania entitled “Where is the Money? Taxation and the State of Africa Mining Vision Implementation: A case of Tanzania and East Africa.” One of the major findings of that study was that there have been notable improvements in Tanzania’s extractive sector tax administration and revenue management at the national level. However, there continued to be challenges in terms of engaging local communities in employment decisions and investing part of revenues back into communities hosting large extractive projects.  Based on its findings, the study provided recommendations to enhance the pace towards meeting the AMV aspirations at the national level in Tanzania.

The analysis reviews the existing literature on the AMV, on the Tanzania’s mining sector, Tanzania’s mining sector revenue policy and legislation as well as mining sector revenue regime in general from 2017 to 2019. The main objectives being: providing an examination of how the Tanzanian legal frameworks (from 2017-2019) are aligned to the AMV; assessing the extent to which the AMV study (by TJNA and PF) recommendations’ have been reflected by changes in the current statutes, policy, administrative circulars, regulations and political declarations; establishing what happened in two other East African countries (Kenya and Uganda) in terms of AMV implementation and whether there are any remarkable achievements that Tanzania could replicate; identifying any advocacy gap and providing recommendations that can help in the implementation of the AMV in Tanzania.

The analysis concludes that Tanzania has undertaken measures towards realisation of the AMV and most of notable developments have taken place since 2017. Tanzania has undertaken some major reorganisation of her fiscal regime applicable to the mining sector over the past three years. There are, however, areas which need further improvement and thus the study suggests remedial measures. For further reading click the link https://pfmis.org/allfiles/documents/15870263782397.pdf

We are all by now undoubtedly aware of the global pandemic outbreak known as Coronavirus (COVID-19) that is highly contagious which has resulted in one case being confirmed in Tanzania on Monday the 16th of March 2020. In response, the government of Tanzania, through the Prime Minister Hon. Majaliwa Kassim Majaliwa, has called for the prohibition of public gatherings including seminars, workshops and conferences for 30 days to help curb the spread of the epidemic. The government will be constantly appraising the situation as it follows developments and will provide further instructions accordingly.

To heed this call and to avoid situations which could increase the risk of transmission, Policy Forum regrets to inform that is has been compelled to postpone the Annual General Meeting (AGM 2020) which was to be held on the 26th and 27th of March 2020 until further notice.

In case of any queries regarding this notice, please feel free to contact the Secretariat by email (info@policyforum.or.tz) or phone (Landline: +255 22 278 0200 | Mobile: +255 782 317434).

Furthermore, we take this opportunity to urge the membership to stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak in Tanzania and to follow instructions on how to prevent its spread through public announcements from the Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children (MCDGC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

 

 

 

Making Policies Work for People in Tanzania!

 

Although the Parliament of Tanzania as a major decision-making body adopted a quota system in 1985 to address gender imbalance, the national assembly still consists of about 37 percent of women Members of Parliament whereby 30 percent are from special seats arrangement and 7 percent are elected by the citizens in their constituencies. There is a deficit of 13 percent of women in parliament to achieve a parity with men in the National Assembly. The deficit is also vivid in  local governance whereby elected women councillors constitute about 240 seats, which is equivalent to 5 percent of the total number of approximately 4000 councillors in Tanzania.

The initial objective of special seats for women was not to redress the imbalance but rather to ensure that the voices of a special category of citizens are heard in decision making bodies in order to enhance the representation of varied interests. It is said that special seats system has increased women’s numerical participation in the Parliament of Tanzania. The process of acquiring female members of special seats is held within their constituencies based on the level of membership attained, yet some stakeholders lament that the process is obscured by corruption and nepotism.

Unveiling a study on the women special seats in Tanzania at the Policy Forum Breakfast Debate of 28th February 2020 entitled “Towards the 2020 General Elections: Reflecting on Women Special Seats in Tanzania”,  Dr. Victoria Lihiru a Lecturer at the Open University of Tanzania emphasized that female participation in decision making has consistently been at the  centre of the global  development  agenda,  especially  after  the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and ratified in Tanzania in 1986 and the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, 1995.  The platforms have been instrumental in bringing to light issues that hinders equality between women  and men.

Despite the efforts to increase female parliamentary candidates, there has been a challenge for women to contest for electoral positions which hinders further numerical increase in the number of candidates that have been voted for by the people. The National Electoral Commission (NEC) should put in place proper guidelines on how to secure candidates to eliminate bewilderment. Hence the improvement of women special seats and its implementation should be aligned and geared to accelerate realization of its objectives, Dr Lihiru added.

Dr. Suma Kaare,  a renowned gender specialist stated that although the gender norms are changing at a snail pace, many negative norms still prohibit women from contesting for leadership position.

She further commented that restructuring of the women special seats based on CEDAW  guidelines (are supposed to be temporary in nature, diverse and broad) might not be as effective as stipulated rather suggested that  the realignment and repurposing of CEDAW and placement of  monitoring and evaluation frameworks to superintend women participation. Significantly, the greater representation of women in parliament has led to improved articulation of women issues and in positive legislative changes for women.

The Political Parties Amendment Act of 2019 gives guidelines on how political parties should empress gender equality and social inclusion in different aspect like in making of their policies and selection of their leaders. Women  Parliamentarians  formed  a  convention called  Tanzania  Women Parliamentarians’  Group  (TWPG)  to  enable  them  share  skills  and  experiences  and  unite  them regardless of their political differences, to address gender issues in a more focused way. The  group  has  increased  sensitization  and  awareness  of  gender  issues  for  Parliamentarians, decision makers in the public service, NGOs and the private sectors and led to the appointment of more women to leadership positions even in areas that are traditionally not occupied by women.

Moreover, Dr. Kaare emphasized on developing a mentoring programme aiming at assisting women to gain the political knowledge and skills that is needed. This will support female MPs to become more effective, but also to better understand the political processes and might build support to challenge to be a candidate for a constituency.

Policy Forum adopted social accountability monitoring (SAM) in 2008 as one of its strategic approaches to capacitate its members working at the sub-national level in Tanzania to engage in policy processes more meaningfully. Since then, I have seen SAM initiatives contribute to building teacher’s housing at remote schools, the operationalisation of primary health care facilities, and the empowerment of communities to lead participatory forest governance efforts among others. Conversely, I had to come to terms with our persistent failure to obtain a sustained shift in behaviour at the eco-system level to sustainably improve the way public resources are managed. Of course, the many factors and actors influencing a change at this level make this an arguably unrealistic objective for a single CSO network. The question was then how to develop a realistic and measurable strategy that keeps us focused on the desired result while providing an appropriate balance between flexibility and rigour.

A disappointing impact evaluation in 2016 motivated our decision to take part in a Learning Pilot Exercise,  both of which influenced our decision to rethink our strategic approach to SAM. Instead of merely providing formal training to a growing ecosystem of SAM actors and assuming that this would change behaviour at scale, we decided to be deliberate about which capacities to build, for whom, and why and how to determine whether it is worthwhile. We did this because we wanted to define for ourselves what our impact would be measured against through a fit-for-purpose MEL[1] strategy so that future evaluations contained no surprises. We then redesigned our SAM strategy to reflect our new strategic approach.

Our most persistent problem was that of accountability for the implementation of SAM findings at the subnational level. We therefore made a strategic decision to focus on working with Councillors because of their legal power to enforce their recommendations. It therefore made sense for us to focus on improving their capacity to make informed recommendations and to enforce timely, appropriate and meaningful corrective action. We chose to work in four under-performing local government authorities (LGAs)[2] (according to CAG[3] reports) where at least one Policy Forum member was also working. In December 2016, we began to train Councillors on a version of SAM training that has been tailor-made for their oversight role. Since then, 106 Councillors have been trained.

The feedback from both councillors and the local government officials they oversee has been overwhelmingly positive on the impact of training on their ability to implement their role. In fact, we are now getting requests from councillors from other LGAs who have heard from their colleagues about how this capacity building has benefitted them. Earlier this year, our work with councillors was evaluated and the findings recommended that we consider mechanisms to scale up the intervention and ensure its sustainability.

Despite the success we have had, three main things still keep me up at night:

  1. Councillors are elected for five-year terms at the end of which they might not return to the role. Even those who have been trained require on-going support to ensure that relevant capacities are built and used. How do we ensure that the capacity to perform effective oversight is retained and improved within Councils even beyond the electoral term?
    • To address this Policy Forum is currently negotiating a partnership with the Local Government Training Institute, a government training institution for public officials at the subnational level, to collaborate to institutionalise the training so that it can become part of their institutionalised capacity building support to LGAs across the country.
  2. Capacity is not the only thing that drives the decisions and actions of politicians. How do we ensure that we take this into account in setting goals and developing realistic indicators? Better yet, how do we navigate the other political and non-political incentives in a way that motivates councillors to use their newly acquired capacities to effectively perform their oversight role accountably?
    • This is a difficult one, but we at Policy Forum have begun to invest in our learning more strategically beginning with our new PMEL[4] strategy. In implementing the strategy, we have also begun to set up an electronic management information system to ensure that what we learn individually is available to others within the Policy Forum secretariat and membership, both currently and in future.
  3. Our primary goal in training councillors is for them to ensure that LGAs become and remain accountable to their constituents and communities in an informed and inclusive way. How can Policy Forum strengthen the influence of citizens over their councillors in between elections?
    • Here is where the Policy Forum membership is expected to play a key role. Policy Forum also sponsors community radio programmes in the districts where it works. This provides a guaranteed platform for locally based CSOs, CBOs and community members to ensure that their most important issues receive enough publicity to motivate action on the part of their political representatives.

Our biggest lesson over the last five years has been that we can only fail if what we learn fails to change us. We hence keep learning and we keep changing and hope to continue telling our story in the course of our journey.

 

[1] MEL = monitoring, evaluation and learning

[2] Kiteto, Kilwa, Mafia, and Mafinga

[3] Controller and Auditor General

[4] Participatory Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning

Development and the use of technology including mobile phones has been rapidly on the rise across Tanzania. According to the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), out of 59.7 million people in Tanzania, the number of internet users in 2019 amounted to approximately 23.1 million. This has eased communication and information sharing amongst the public and institutions including the government and among others, has presented the opportunity to utilize Artificial Intelligence in the realization of quality education in Tanzania.

‘Ticha Kidevu’, Tanzania’s first virtual teacher created by Shule Direct, is a website application with real teachers in the back-end designed allow students to interact with the platform and respond to their questions and be provided with links in order to access reference materials through google searches like in a classroom but through e-learning. The idea of using technology in education is not to replace the teachers but to support them.

This was revealed at the Policy Forum Breakfast held on 31st January 2020 entitled “Digital Platforms for Social Impact: The Role of Technology in Addressing Education Challenges.”  A presentation on how to bridge the educational gaps in Tanzania to convert quantity into quality was made by Faraja Nyalandu and Erick Kondela from Shule Direct.

Expounding on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its contributions towards the realization of the quality of education in Tanzania, the Executive Director of Shule Direct  Faraja Nyalandu emphasized that although nothing can replace the experience of learning in a classroom with a qualified teacher, educational technology offers an effective and efficient solution to bridge the educational resources. She also assured that AI is one of the safest methods to use in child protection and safeguarding.

Erick Kondela further elaborated that Artificial Intelligence, simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think and act like humans, is capable of closing teachers' shortage gaps and addressing inadequate supply of learning materials in the education sector. This also caters for students with special needs as AI comes with different forms such as audio, visuals and signs.

“Artificial Intelligence opens up more opportunities that lead to the improvement of learning outcomes. It enables the distribution of needed learning materials,” Kondela said.

Dr. Gerald Kafuku, Principal Researcher from COSTECH highlighted that the government would continue to partner with innovators in Tanzania to gain the infrastructure and to develop their work to help solve social challenges including the education sector.

Reacting on the presentation, a member of the audience Boniface Kyaruzi posed a question on the concept of “Leaving No-one Behind” and whether students from Non-English Medium Schools would struggle communicate with Ticha Kidevu because Kiswahili remains the medium of instruction.

Another member of the audience , Rahma Mwita expressed her fear of leaving the Girl Child behind due to the ban imposed to students who become pregnant forcing them to end their studies abruptly. She further asked how AI will assist in making sure that the girl child is still onboard.

Nyalandu responded to the question posed by Ms. Mwita by emphasising the importance of rethinking the classroom as not necessarily a place with walls but a space where access to learning is provided and this can be virtual. Hence whilst the debate to return girls to school continues, the virtual platforms can be remotely accessible to girls who are banned by giving them an unlimited array of subjects to study and virtual teachers to help them prepare for their national examinations.

Moreover, it is a great achievement that we have more children in schools today. However, to keep up with the increasing population growth and improved enrolment and retention rates that are straining the quality of education delivered, the most suitable intervention is technology which will help the country leapfrog some of these education challenges we face, Nyalandu said. “Are we meeting the demands of the 21st century ? Should our children continue paying the price for infrastructure challenges in education?,” she posed.

Also with the educational needs of our society no longer limited to age, gender or physical appearance, in order to provide quality education there is a need for the government to incorporate and integrate the use of technology in the country’s education policy from a junior level to accommodate the needs of different students in the society.

As a final word, Nyalandu also stated there are many ways to improve teaching methods and infrastructure in schools and that it is necessary to take steps to ensure that students are empowered to translate school-based education into real life and produce positive results.

Kindly be informed that Policy Forum secretariat office will be closed for Christmas and New Year Holidays from December 21, 2019 to January 13, 2020.                                    

We would like to wish you a very Happy Holidays.

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