Mercy Sila is currently Director General of the Tanzania Education Authority (TEA) and is responsible for managing and ensuring the sustainability of the Education Fund by mobilising and soliciting revenue and utilising the Fund to finance education projects to supplement government efforts toward improving the of quality of and equitable access to education in the country.
She is an accountant and registered as a Fellow Certified Public Accountant with the Tanzanian National Board of Accountants and Auditors and a Fellow Member with the Tanzania Association of Accountants (TAA). She holds an MBA with a focus on Human Resources from City University, London (now CASS), and is registered as a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in the United Kingdom.
eLA: Could you please briefly explain the main tasks of the Tanzania Education Authority?
Mercy Sila: Tanzania is a peaceful country with a strong macroeconomic framework geared towards attracting international investors in key sectors including education. However, the country faces challenges in providing quality education for all. These challenges have made Tanzania develop and implement various programmes to support the sector.
One of the initiatives was the establishment of a national Education Fund. The Fund was established by Act of Parliament No. 8 in 2001 and is managed by the Tanzania Education Authority (TEA), which is a corporate body established under the same Act.
TEA is charged with the responsibility of mobilising resources outside the normal government budget system and effectively utilising these to support the improvement of quality and increase access to and equity in education at all levels.
eLA: Could you please provide a bit more detail?
Mercy Sila: TEA is responsible for securing adequate and stable financing of education, and it also advises the government on new sources of revenue for the purpose in its attempt to ensure a steady flow of money into the Fund. We utilise the money deposited into the Fund for the purpose of improvement and promotion of education, and we develop and periodically review the formula for allocation and disbursement from the Fund to the different educational levels. TEA also monitors the use of funds disbursed and ensures adherence to the Fund’s objectives. Last but not least, one of the most important tasks is to sponsor and provide facilities for higher learning and to establish relationships or associations with both national and international institutions.
This all refers to our overarching goals, which are to raise the quality of education and increase access and equity. We promote education and training according to needs within the framework of overall national socio-economic development plans and policies.
eLA: What is your role within the organisation?
Mercy Sila: I hold the position of Director General with the Tanzania Education Authority. The Director General is the Chief Executive Officer and is responsible to the Board for developing and carrying out corporate objectives, policies and plans. I also oversee the daily functions of managing the Authority’s affairs.
eLA: What is your role in financing the Education Fund?
Mercy Sila: TEA has been operating through government financing and voluntary contributions received from business communities, private and public institutions and individuals. However, the challenge is the sustainability of the Fund itself and fulfilling the high demands of educational requirements.
TEA develops educational project write-ups on the areas that need support and solicits financing from donors and other development partners, local and International. The philosophy of the Education Fund is based on a Public-Private Partnership.
Since funding is voluntary, the government provides incentives for all contributors. Contributors are recognised by publicly being awarded a Certificate of Educational Appreciation (CEA), which entitles them to apply for tax relief under the Income Tax.
eLA: What can be contributed?
Mercy Sila: In its databank, TEA has numerous educational projects that are in need of support. Individuals, companies, institutions, foundations and international agencies can contribute to the Education Fund or directly to the educational projects or programmes. Contributions may be made in cash or cash equivalent directly to the Education Fund as well as in goods and or services directly to the TEA or to Fund-Assisted Educational Projects.
eLA: Does TEA have priorities with regard to educational funding, e. g. gender- related education or specific subjects, etc.?
Mercy Sila: TEA provides support to schools, colleges and universities which include provision of teaching and learning materials and equipment; training of academic staff in specialised skills; curriculum development and review; application and exploitation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT); and quality assurance and management. TEA also supports disadvantaged groups such as the disabled and those with special needs, the indigent, orphans and female students. We also provide funds the construction of dormitories as well as provide dormitory facilities for girls’ hostels and for the construction or expansion of buildings in the form of loans.
eLA: What do you expect from your visit to the eLearning Africa conference?
Mercy Sila: To learn best practices and to gain understanding of the challenges in the introduction of eLearning in education systems. Most specifically I would like to gain knowledge of strategies used in implementing eLearning in schools, teacher-training colleges, technical colleges and higher learning institutions because my organisation has the role of facilitating the acquisition, exploitation and application of ICT at these education levels.
I also hope to get an opportunity to learn techniques of empowering women through ICT and eLearning since one of my organisation’s objectives is to realise gender equity in education.
The visit will also be an avenue to identify and establish collaboration, contacts and networking with development partners who support ICT projects and empowering women in education.
eLA: Mrs Sila, many thanks for your time.
Tanzanian Education Authority www.tea.or.tz