Interview of Alphonso Mukoba, President of the Tanzania Teachers Union (TTU)
Can you introduce yourself and your union?
My name is Alphonso Mukoba. I am the president of the Tanzania Teachers’ Union (TTU) which gathers around 280 000 members. It was established in 1993 and is composed of teachers from primary and secondary schools and professionals from the Ministry of Education Science and Technology.
The core business of TTU is to fight for the rights and welfare of Tanzanian teachers. We have led many battles and an important one was to push the government to pay the retiring allowance. For a long time, the government has failed paying all the due money and many teachers had to leave the profession without any money. Debts have accumulated to billions of Tanzanian shillings. I remember that we once pushed the government to pay 52 billion shillings to the teachers. It was a great victory!
How much does a Tanzanian teacher earn?
Salaries are different according to the diploma. A secondary teacher in Tanzania earns approximately $200 a month. Teachers who hold an advanced degree can earn $350/month.
What kind of services does TTU provide to its members?
We provide many services to our members. We consider membership education as one of the key role of our union. That’s why TTU has developed a policy on education with the organisation of workshops about professional development and trade unionism.
We have also developed financial services and credit through our cooperative and credit society. We provide support to teachers with disabilities. TTU can also hire a lawyer to defend one of its members.
How is the social protection system organised for Tanzanian teachers?
There is a fund called the Public Service Pension Fund which provides teachers with pensions. Teachers contribute 5% of their salary while the government contributes with 15%. Once retired, they get a monthly allowance.
Healthcare coverage is dealt by the national health insurance fund. It is financed by 6% of the teacher salary (3% brought by the teachers and 3% by the government). Teachers can access healthcare for free. However, some drugs must be paid out of pocket.
What are the main challenges of the education system of Tanzania?
Poverty! There are a lot of inequalities in Tanzania. Many people are too poor to send their children to school. Primary and secondary education is free but it still represents a cost because parents have to pay for the uniform, books, etc. There are too many families who cannot afford to send the kids to school. Child labour is also an issue especially in mining areas where children have to work and drop out school. Many girls stay at home to take care of the house and look after the relatives.
The second challenge is the teaching conditions. Teachers are not paid enough. They can have empty pockets at the middle of the month and have difficulties in feeding their family. How can they be good teachers when they are worried for their family? Often, they are eager to leave the classroom to do other activities that are more rewarding and the pupils are left alone without a teacher!
You have to know that the military budget of Tanzania is higher than the education budget. We think that it is absurd because peace is achieved at school long before it is on battlefields.
What is the moto of TTU?
Service and justice!