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The human resource is certainly the most important factor of production because it is capable of transforming all the other factors for the betterment of human life and human welfare. Developing and utilising this resource effectively increases its productivity and its capital value. Thus, human resources development must be one of the leading objectives on the nation's development agenda.
The government has all along been conscious of the need for a concerted effort towards human resources development in Tanzania. The Arusha Declaration was the basic inspiration behind the fundamental national goals and strategies and these were reflected in successive national development plans all of which had a triple focus, i.e. economic growth, equity and self reliance, emphasizing rural development, mass literacy and the provision of the basic needs of the population.
The improvement of the people's welfare was the overriding objective underlying the various measures and programmes that were embarked upon in the post independence period. The most notable ones included:
- Social mobilization of rural population through the villagisation programme, the main aim of which was to ensure an adequate and equitable provision to communities especially at grass roots level, of the basic services such as health care, primary and secondary education and vocational skills training as well as clean and safe water within easy reach.
- Universal primary education which attained more than 75 per cent primary school enrollment level during the late 1970's.
- Mass literacy programmes which at one time recorded more than 80 per cent coverage of the adult population, and promotion of Kiswahili as the national language
- Interfacing of work with education (i.e. the Musoma Resolution), as well as an expansion in the number of primary, secondary, tertiary and higher education institutions.
The above outlined successes were attained at a high cost to the government. The approaches adopted were characterized by excessive government intervention and control which in turn promoted a heavy bureaucratic system and all the weaknesses it entails, notably, corruption and inefficiency. Furthermore, the approaches pursued by the government in the past had a deepening effect on the population in that the people were reduced to passive participants in national development programmes and activities. As such, the past approaches which had been adopted and implemented by the government in developing human resources in Tanzania were, with time, rendered unsustainable.
Today, the government has adopted another set of approaches that are more in line with the socio-economic realities of Tanzania and that of the contemporary world. The government realizes the various demands of a market oriented economy put on the nation. One such demand is that citizens compete for jobs in employment on the basis of their skills and work experience or their own ingenuity.
This approach is based on the new policy objectives i.e. to reflect the increasing significance of the private sector, to give greater attention to manpower requirements at the sectoral and organisational level and finally to leave the market forces to play a bigger role in order to link manpower planning efforts to social demand for manpower. A three tier human resources planning mechanism is being used, that is at the national, sectoral and organizational levels.
Secondly, this recognition on the part of the government underscores another important policy requirement of ensuring that education and vocational training at all levels but more so at the primary and secondary levels is relevant to the basic needs of the labour market in terms of the practical application of the knowledge and skills acquired through education and training.
Thirdly, as the national development strategy envisages the participation of the entire civil society right down to the grassroots level, the government is stepping up the basic primary education system in order to ensure not only the widest coverage of all school age children and youth, but also the acquisition of basic trade skills that will facilitate self employment.
Another important innovation is government's approach to human resources development is the determination to undertake extensive collaboration with relevant private sector institutions as well as the local Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) with a view to capitalizing on their direct knowledge of and contact with people's communities at the grassroots level.
With regard to the contribution of technical assistance in human resources development, the dominant approach has been to fill the gaps in high and middle level manpower requirements, and to help in the training and development of local capacities. This has been accomplished through the use of foreign experts in specific projects and through various forms of training programmes.
There have been a number of drawbacks which have prevented Technical Assistance (TA) from being effective in the development of human resources. These include poorly designed training programmes, great differentials in pay between foreign experts and local counterparts, unqualified TAs, unfamiliarity with work and cultural habits by foreign experts, distrust of local experts, lack of suitable local trainees and constraints resulting from the strings that are sometimes attached to the TA packages by donors.
With the intensification of aid dependence, the role of technical assistance has increasingly shifted from one of filling gaps to one of substituting for local human resources. The local human resources are underutilized partly because of unconducive working conditions and partly because the technical assistance is often packaged with other forms of aid (e.g. vehicles, computers etc.) which may be needed. In some cases, technical assistance is accepted as a means of mobilizing other forms of aid.
There is need to have a technical cooperation policy which can address these problems.
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