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Tanzania: A Secular State, Secular Education But With Some Elements of Religious Influence?

February 27, 2021

Author: Isakwisa Amanyisye Lucas Mwakalonge

Numbering: Issue 1.B, Idea: African Freethinking

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: African Freethinker

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: February 27, 2021

Issue Publication Date: TBD

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 1,195

Keywords: Dar es Salaam, East Africa, Isakwisa Amanyisye Lucas Mwakalonge, religious influence, secular education, secular state, Tanzania.

Tanzania: A Secular State, Secular Education But With Some Elements of Religious Influence?

Isakwisa Amanyisye Lucas Mwakalonge[1],[2]*

Dar es salaam, Tanzania – East Africa.

Since independence the government of Tanzania was committed to provide to Tanzanians a kind of education which is secular, this government commitment is demonstrated by a speech of the first president of Tanzania Julius Nyerere when speaking to heads of schools in Tanzania on 3rd March in 1975 at Kivukoni College in Dar es salaam as a head of state by then when addressing to them about the government position on a type of education the government was aiming to offer in public schools(government schools). He said that his government was dedicated to provide secular education in public schools, which will largely focus in researches that are scientific. He further added that the purpose of education acquired from secular schools is to help human being to solve problems in life, therefore he insisted that education and knowledge imparted from secular schools to be applied in solving problems in life. This indicates that the government of Tanzania was enthusiastic to provide secular education to the population. In order to help the government succeed in fulfilling this good intention then the specific law was enacted so as to support government obligation of providing secular education to the people from primary to universities, this is the Education Act [Cap 353 Revised Edition 2009] also the law regulates all educational affairs and provides for the better development of the system of education in the nation. But somehow this government determination is controverted by the same law. Despite the good purpose of making this law yet there are some sections in this law needs to be debated in a very neutral perceptiveness, because somehow these sections do rise some illogicalities to the government determinations of providing secular education to the population targeted. For instance it is undeniable fact that Tanzania is a secular state, dedicated to provide secular education, yet section 2 and section 57(3) of the education Act poses some ambiguities.

(a) To start with section 2 of the Education Act in defining the concept education among other things the law has some elements of religious influence, for example the section defines education as “the instruction of or training of persons of all ages in various fields of learning designed to contribute to the spiritual, moral, mental and physical development of the community and to the attainment of the wider national goods.” Cambridge International Dictionary of English defines the term spiritual as something that is not physical (religious). Then the question is how comes a secular state, with secular education can offer a kind of education with one among of its aims is to prepare some ones to spiritual development? Does secular state with secular education believes in spiritual development of the one acquiring such secular education? Why this? This section contradicts article 3 of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania,1977 which articulates that Tanzania is a secular state.

(b) Furthermore section 2 of the Education Act with this term spiritual is moreover contradicting article 19(1) of the constitution, the article provides that: Every person has the right to the freedom of conscience, faith and choice in matters of religion, including the freedom to change his religion or faith.” A good description of this quoted article 19(1) is from page 9 of the Civics Manual for Secondary Teachers and College Tutors, a hand book is from the ministry of education and vocational Training in Tanzania through Tanzania Institute of Education.[3] The manual describes article 19(1) of the constitution as follows Freedom of religion and conscience this right means that no person should be required to profess any religion or other belief against his or her desire. Additionally, no one should be punished or penalized in any way because he or she chooses one religion over another or indeed opts for no religion at all. Therefore if this article 19(1) of the constitution gives freedom on matters of believing or even not believing, then why section 2 of education Act is designed to contribute to the spiritual development of a learner? It is a bit perplexing to witness that secular education is there to prepare someone for spiritual development.

(c) Section 57(3) of the Education Act directs that “Every school shall provide in its curriculum for the provision of religious instruction to its pupils on the premises of the school, but no pupil shall be compelled to attend any particular religious class or worship against his will if he is above the age of eighteen years or against the will of his parent or parents, if he has not yet attained the age of eighteen years.” These words “every school shall” indicates that it is mandatory to do so, then why the obligatory term is used here? For a religious curriculum to be provided? While Tanzania is a secular state, with secular education? Maybe this could be left for religious schools or schools owned by religious organizations and not public schools which are owned by the secular state. Therefore section 57(3) contradicts article 3 and article 19(1) of the constitution. Why section 57(3) of the law requires every school to provide in its curriculum for the provision of religious instructions to pupils on the premises of the school? In a nation which is secular one, with secular education? Is this law or these sections not contravening the constitution? Even though the law has given an exception that no pupil shall be compelled to attend any particular religious class or worship against his will if he is above the age of eighteen years or against the will of his parent or parents, if he has not yet attained the age of eighteen years. Yet the law was not supposed to require every school to provide in its curriculum matters of religious instructions, this was to be left free to be decided by the one who believes because this is a secular state, and matters of faith are private affairs of the person concerned. This is also emphasized in article 19(2) of the constitution.

Grounding on the fact that since Tanzania is a secular state then it is expected to provide secular education which is regulated by secular laws and not a vice-versa. confusing sections which are section 2 and section 57(3) of the Education Act especially those statements or words which in one way or another do contradict constitutions as it has been revealed in this essay, they must be removed or changed very immediate by the authorities vested with powers of either reform or amend laws so as to remove these ambiguities and leave Tanzania to flourish as a total free secular state.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Assistant Editor African Freethinker / http://www.in-sightjournal.com (Tanzania) a Lawyer, a Teacher, an Advocate of the High Court of Tanzania, a Notary Public and Commissioner for Oaths, Member of the Bar Association of Tanzania Main Land (Tanganyika Law Society.) He holds Degree of Bachelor of Laws (L.L.B), Degree of Master of Laws In Information and Communication Technology Law (L.L.M – ICT – LAWS), Post Graduate Diploma In Legal Practice (PGD – LP), Diploma in Education (DIP – EDUC), Certificate of Admission of Advocate (High Court of Tanzania).

[2] Individual Publication Date: February 27, 2021: https://in-sightjournal.com/2021/02/27/tanzania-a-secular-state-secular-education-but-with-some-elements-of-religious-influence/.

[3] Tanzania Institute of Education (TIE) – Is a Parastatal Organization under the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (M0EVT) charged with the responsibility of ensuring the quality of education in Tanzania at the Pre-School, Primary, Secondary and Teacher Training Levels. Civics Manual for Secondary Teachers and College Tutors, by Tanzania Institute of Education is a guide to Teachers and Tutors of Civics to prepare Civics lessons (Lesson modules) basing on the authorized syllabus in Tanzania. The manual aimed to add skills and knowledge of Civics Teachers and Tutors in the Teaching of Civics.

*Contacts are: Email: isamwaka 01@gmail.com. Mobile Phone +225 754326296. WhatsApp +255 629204106

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