Archbishop Valentino Mokiwa has urged a leading candidate for president to promise to return mission schools nationalized by the government to the church.
Speaking at a school fundraising event on 24 Oct 2011 in Dar es Salaam, Dr. Mokiwa asked Edward Lowassa MP to return the schools if he wins the presidency. Elections are scheduled in the east African nation in 2015 to succeed President Jakaya Kikwete. While Mr. Lowassa has not formally announced his candidacy, he is considered a front runner for the post.
Following independence in 1961, church schools received financials support from the government as long as they followed the Department of Education’s national curriculum. Government policies changed, however, following the promulgation of the Arusha Declaration on 5 Feb 1967 by President Julius Nyerere. The Arusha Declaration outlined the principles of Ujamaa — African socialism — and called for the overhaul of the economic system and self-reliance in locally administered villages through a villagization programme.
The villagization programme, implemented between 1973 and 1976, created a collective farming system through the resettlement of peasants who lived and worked their own land onto new villages that could provide economies of scale. The programme also saw a push towards self-reliance in industry and education. In 1974 the government nationalized private primary schools established by the Anglican, Catholic and Lutheran churches, and forced many missionary school teachers to leave the country.
African socialism proved to be an economic and education catastrophe for Tanzania, and in the 1980’s the government permitted new private schools to be opened. The government’s failure to maintain the confiscated schools and its disinclination to invest in education has led to a boom in private school enrollment, according to a UN report, such that over half of all students in Tanzania are now privately educated.
In his speech to kick off the fundraising drive for the Bishop John Sepeku School in the Yombo Buza district of Dar es Salaam, Archbishop Mokiwa asked the political leader to pledge to return the schools. “If you are blessed to win the presidency, please make sure that you return former church-owned schools to us… there are many properties belonging to the churches that were taken over by the government,” said Dr Mokiwa according to local press reports.
The Anglican Church in Tanzania has urged the government to return its confiscated schools, arguing that it is able to educate more children at a higher standard for less cost than the government.
The nationalization campaign had scarred many people, Dr. Mokiwa said, and it was now time to set politics aside for the good of the nation and support the best interests of children.