Further issues surrounding Tanzania’s higher education GASTOR MAPUNDA

Regarding quality, it is of interest b ecause when there were only two or three universities in the country the issue of quality was not something to worry ab out.
The selection criteria were known and adhered to. Now that there are hundreds of higher education institutions, it is only quantity that seems to b e the priority, ignoring the fact that lack of quality is costly to the nation. Under the Development Vision 2015, Tanzania is determined to b e a nation with high quality education at all levels.
The nation env isions producing the quantity and quality of educated people who are well equipped with requisite knowledge and skills to solve the society’s prob lems to meet the challenges of development and to attain competitiveness at regional and global levels.
Nevertheless, the reality on the ground shows that this is far from achieving. G enerally, we can say that we are possibly ev en not moving in that direction. At the moment universities and other institutions of higher education in Tanzania have b een b lamed for not producing the kind of workforce with knowledge and skills necessary for addressing the challenges of underdevelopment.
It is imperativ e that Tanzania estab lishes an inv entory of knowledge and skills gaps which the higher education sector should address b it b y b it.
For ex ample, we know that the Tanzania’s electricity sector is not doing very well, b ut we also know that there is a lot of wind in regions such as Singida, Dodoma and Kilimanjaro. The immediate question is why shouldn’t our education system address this need so that we get enough electrical engineers who can reform the sector?
Now that we want to b ecome industrialized, why doesn’t our education system invest in relev ant disciplines, and in more meaningful and practical ways? We are currently producing graduates who are merely theoretical and who are unable to marry theory and practice.
On a separate but related note, there is the issue of using and misusing academic and professional titles b y some Tanzanians.
While this issue may not directly affect the quality of education, it does hav e some implication. People hav e haphazardly included titles such as doctor, professor, engineer, economist, architect, and so forth when they introduce themselves.
There are at least three issues which I want to talk ab out in this regard. The first is to do with how the titles are improperly used b y people who are actually qualified for the titles, and so deserve to b e identified as such.
What is at issue here is that some people unnecessarily introduce themselves with the titles, not knowing that they hav e to b e identified b y such titles b y others.
The second is to do withpeople  who do not have the qualifications, b ut comfortab ly use the titles. This group comprises witchdoctors and traditional healers, among others, who b rand themselves doctors or professors. The third is a category of people who introduce themselves or are introduced b y others starting with the names of their professions.
It is commonplace in many Tanzanian universities to find academic members of staff introducing themselves starting with their academic titles. This is particularly the case with the professorial and doctoral titles.
Usually when they are told to introduce themselves in conferences and other events, would say, “ My name is Professor Mwenye Akili”, or “ My name is Doctor Nywele Fupi”. This is also very common among parliamentarians and councilors when using the honorific honourable. They too would usually introduce themselves as “ I am Honourable Doctor Mti Mkavu, … .” .
My question is, are these titles part of their names? I would think that when one is asked about their names, the response would be their actual names, minus the titles. This anomaly is also becoming coming common among some people in some professions. In this regard it not uncommon to hear a person introducing herself as, “I am Engineer Kufa Kunoga, or my name is Accountant X Y ” .
With professional titles, this trend is rather recent in Tanz ania, b ut it gaining momentum. Additionally, some people in these so-called celeb rated professions, who also happen to hold these academic titles, create v ery cumbersome identification comb inations such as, “ I am Professor Engineer Hapa Njaa … .” and the like.
I want to argue here that the use of such titles in self-introduction is a sign of ignorance, except if they are required to include these titles and their professions. There is also this b ehav ior which is very common nowadays among people who are not qualified to be called professors and doctors who use the titles.
Way back in the late 19 9 0s some parliamentarians started talking ab out this category of people in the parliament, b ut they were threatened b y some of the witch doctors that they should stop talking ab out their use of such titles b ecause some of them (the politicians) were beneficiaries of their serv ice.
Sadly this deb ate ab ated instantly. I am not sure whether the parliamentarians were scared of b eing ex posed b y the medicine men or not! Along with this category, there are also who hold people honorary doctorates (honoris causa) who also identify themselves or are identified as doctors, and surprisingly they accept these titles without saying a word.
In this category politicians take the lead, and it is b ecoming very common in tz. What is even stranger is the fact that some senior academics in universities also address such people as doctors. I would think that the minister responsible for education should prepare a b ill and take to the parliament to stop this b ehav ior. Many of the people who use these titles are mediocre figures who actually mock and insult these difficult-to-get qualifications.
There should b e a law that criminalizes the use of these titles, and whoever uses the title should b e told to v erify the authenticity of their tiles.
Dr G astor Mapunda is senior lecturer in the College of Humanities (CoHU), University of