Empowerment and effectiveness of school committees in Tanzania
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Empowerment of local communities and establishment of appropriate local level institutional frameworks have recently become important tenets for education management in the developing countries. Tanzania is also sailing on the same boat with other countries in that endeavour, where educational decision making powers have been conferred to the local levels. As of now, school committees have been empowered to take over the oversight and development roles in their respective schools. The study has been an attempt to assess the effectiveness of the primary school committees in Tanzania; focussing on two LGAs namely, the Morogoro Municipal Council (MMC) and Mvomero District Council (MVDC).Two primary schools (one from each LGA) were studied in detail to ascertain any significant differences between the urban and rural school committees with regard to capabilities and effectiveness in role accomplishment. The study approach was mainly qualitative, using in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, observation and documentary analysis. The study involved 32 purposefully selected informants, comprising of Education Officers from the two LGAs, Village and Mtaa' Executive Officers, Head teachers, School Committee members, parents and pupils. Generally, it was found that majority (78%) of the two school committees members were primary school leavers or below, a phenomenon attributed to lack of interest of the educated' to become members of school committees. While there was trivial difference between the rural and urban school in terms of committee members' understanding of their responsibilities, the committee members from the two committees were adequately informed about their roles. In addition, there was high consistency between the level of education and role accomplishment capabilities. That is, members with fairly high educational qualifications indicated that they were competent enough to accomplish their roles; while those who had low educational qualifications declared that they were not competent enough to accomplish most of the skill-demanding roles like planning and budgeting. Inadequacy of financial resources was pervasive in either case, constraining successful implementation of school development plans. On these grounds, therefore, my conclusion is that not outstanding but impressive achievements have so far been accrued regarding the empowerment and effectiveness of the school committees. However, attainment of the real school committee empowerment and effectiveness calls for enduring and comprehensive capacity building efforts by multiple agents (the Government, NGOs, CSOs, Media, CBOs etc.) to develop knowledge, skills and financial resource bases at the local levels; and also create awareness to the people on the importance of their participation in educational decision making processes.