NECTA launches tighter student school records system

As the National Examination Council of Tanzania (NECTA) has developed a system that will keep records of primary school pupils to get rid of ghost pupils and students, the government has so far recovered over 2bn/-, which was paid to ghost students in higher learning institutions.

The system, dubbed Primary Records Manager (PReM), will enable pupils' records to be maintained in secondary and higher education and will facilitate transfers of pupils from one school to another.

Briefing reporters on the council's achievements in Dar es Salaam yesterday, NECTA Communications Officer, Mr John Nchimbi, said the system had already been tested in Mwanza and Ruvuma and is expected to be used effective January, next year.

"Currently, there are dishonest headteachers who provide names of ghost pupils. After the introduction of this system, there would be no room for dishonest teachers.

"This system will help the government to channel required funds to support free education instead of sending the amount to the dishonest headteachers' pockets. And each pupil will be registered with pictures and his/ her registration number will be used even in other national examinations," he revealed.

Mr Nchimbi said also the system would reduce days that were used to transfer pupils from one school to another and from one region to another. It will also provide performance statistics of pupils and students for national education plans.

On war against examination cheating, Mr Nchimbi said together with regional and district examination committees, they managed to reduce a number of cheating cases.

"For primary final examinations, cheating cases have decreased from 9,736 candidates in 2011 to 293 in 2012 and up to 2015 there was no case recorded," he explained.

For Form Four examinations, the NECTA communications officer said there were 3,303 candidates in 2011, 789 in 2012, 272 in 2013, 184 in 2014 and in 2015 there were 87 candidates who were found cheating.

According to him, the number of students found cheating during Form Six exams was five in 2015 - from 11 candidates in 2011. Mr Nchimbi, however, advised organisations and institutions planning to recruit new employees to submit their new employees' certificates for verification to avoid employing people with fake certificates.

Meanwhile, the government has recovered more than 2bn/- paid back by higher learning institutions whose students didn't show up for verification. The verification exercise conducted between May and July, this year, in 31 higher learning institutions, discovered that a total of 2,192 students who could not be traced were paid a sum of 3.9bn/- in the 2015/16 financial year.

However, the Minister for Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training, Professor Joyce Ndalichako, suspended loans for the students and ordered their respective universities to return the money they have been receiving for them within seven days.

In an interview with the 'Daily News' in Dar es Salaam yesterday, Prof Ndalichako confirmed that a total 2bn/- was paid back by mid-September, this year.

"The universities have agreed to repay the money but some of them have requested their respective debts to be deducted from the funds, which will be allocated to them," she said. She said that the government will deduct 600m/- as requested by the universities, making a total of 2.6bn/- .

Prof Ndalichako, however, noted that there were also some students who turned up after the verification claiming that they had problems and they were verified. She said that the exercise was underway in the remaining 50 universities, calling upon students to turn up for the important exercise.

In August, this year, Prof Ndalichako said that the verification exercise in 31 universities call for further investigation and verification of previous loans beneficiaries to establish the amount paid to unqualified students.

"The government will be forced to conduct thorough investigation basing on the findings of this exercise, which has discovered that there are some graduates and discontinuing students who have still been getting loans since 2013/14," she pointed out.

Prof Ndalichako also directed higher learning institutions to put in place a good record keeping system that will allow access to students' information related to registration, education performance and bank accounts where the loans are channelled.

"The government will also take disciplinary measures to all people who facilitated payment to the ghost students and this will include employees of Higher Learning Students' Loans Board (HESLB) and respective universities," she noted.

Meanwhile, the minister said that the government has paid a total of 22.5bn/- it owes teachers in the country and plans were underway to ensure that it clears all outstanding areas.

She pointed out that the government recognises teachers as important stakeholders in the education sector and that is why it has taken initiatives to ensure that it pays all the debts.

Between October, last year and August, this year, a total of 22.5bn/- has been paid to teachers while verification on teachers' claims is still going on to clear further debt.