The main recipients of the desks have been primary schools in the country’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam and the up-country regions of Mbeya, an agricultural city located near the Tanzanian-Zambian border; Iringa, a region famed for its timber products and Morogoro, the home of the famous eastern arc Udzungwa mountain ranges have also benefitted from this donation by Tigo.
According to Tigo General Manager, Diego Gutierrez, the support is in line with Tigo’s commitment to support community initiatives through its corporate social responsibility portfolio.
Tigo’s gesture is also part of a US$ 50,000 pledge by the telecom in response to the government’s call to individuals, company’s, organizations and other stakeholders to help offset the shortage of desks in the country’s schools.
In May 2014, Tanzania’s then Prime Minister, Peter Mizengo Pinda said that the country was facing a shortage of 1.4 million desks in its primary schools.
“Statistics have shown that Tanzania needs about 3.3 million desks for her primary schools while the available ones are only 1.8 million. We therefore, have a deficit of 1.5 million”, the former PM is quoted by the media as saying at the time.
“It costs Tshs. 120,000 (US$ 57) to make one desk”, the now-retired premier had opined, and continued to add that if the government would decide to make 100,000 desks at Tshs 12 billion, it would take 12 years to end the problem-and asked for support from well-wishers and other like-minded parties.
Tigo, together with the Hassan Maajar Trust (HMT), a local charitable organization, heeded the plea and collaborated, in the initial stages in providing desks to needy primary schools in Mbeya and Iringa regions. Tigo has continued to support more schools ever since, an initiative that has been lauded by the local government administrations and also the beneficiary institutions.
Speaking on the need to support in promoting the education sector in Tanzania, Diego says: “we understand the challenges the education sector faces in providing a conducive learning environment especially to students in the rural areas. It is our hope that the desks that Tigo is providing will translate to better and comfortable learning which the students will enjoy studying from”.
According to UNICEF, the net primary school enrollment rate shot up by 94%-a drastic growth mainly occasioned by the abolition of primary school fees in 2001 coupled with the government’s compulsory requirement that parents/guardians’ send all children to school.
The rapid expansion meant that class-room sizes had mushroomed with an average of 66% in each government primary school by 2011 (Source: Education Sector Performance Report: 2010-2011).
Expressing their gratitude to Tigo for the much-needed shot in the arm, the beneficiary schools said at different intervals that the support will go a long way in ensuring the comfort of the pupils in their learning sessions, hence tremendous improvement in their pupils’ academic performance.