The decision by the Tanzanian government to kick out illegal immigrants had led to the expulsion of more than 5,500 foreign teachers as at the end of January.
The teachers, mostly from the region, went back to their countries after the Immigration Department issued a notice to private school owners requiring them to submit work permits of their foreign teaching staff.
The decision to expel workers without valid work permits was made after immigration authorities and the police apprehended foreigners from the Horn of Africa a few months ago.
A senior immigration officer in Dar es Salaam said there were hundreds of illegal foreigners working in Tanzania’s business capital, most of them from Kenya, China, India, Pakistan and Malawi.
“We are tracking them down to verify their presence in Tanzania before taking legal action against them,” he said.
English and science teachers from Kenya and other EAC member states were the most affected. There are more than 6,000 foreigners hired by private schools in Tanzania.
Mzinde Mnzava, the chairman of the Tanzania Association of Managers and Owners of Non-Government Schools and Colleges (TAMONGSCO), said the country has a shortage of 27,000 science teachers.
“We request the government to relax the working regulations for foreign teachers to allow us to hire more teachers who are experienced to fill this gap,” he said.
Private schools perform better than public schools in the country.
TAMONGSCO secretary general Benjamin Nkonya said deporting foreign teachers will affect private schools, many of which hire English teachers from Kenya and Uganda.
“The decision made by the government will have a major negative impact on private English-medium schools since many Tanzanian teachers are not competent in English and science studies,” he said.
He said colleges in Tanzania did not train enough primary school teachers in English; most are trained in history and geography.
Tanzania Teachers Union president Gratian Mukoba said the union is not against the government’s move to crack down on foreign and illegal immigrants, but added, “If we want to have children who are well educated, there is a need to have foreigners who will help us to train the future generation,” he said.
East African Employers Association chair Rosemary Ssenabulya faulted Tanzania’s move to “lock out” other East Africans from their job market.
She said the move was against the EAC Common Market Protocol that advocates for free movement of labour across the borders of member states.