About 10,000 teachers face expulsion in a crackdown on illegal immigrants in Tanzania, private school owners have said.
The teacher to student ratio in Tanzania is 1:40, with a demand of 23,546 teachers.
There are 13,657 teachers, which is only 58 per cent of requirements.
This prompted private schools to employ 9,889 teachers from neighbouring Kenya, Uganda, Malawi and Zambia.
Tanzania Association of Managers and Owners of Non-Government Schools and Colleges (Tamongsco) has however decried the crackdown.
According to officials, it will have serious repercussions on private English medium schools.
Tamongsco secretary-general Benjamin Nkonya said most schools could not afford the $2,000 fee for a two-year work permit required for foreign teachers.
“A school with ten foreign teachers, for example, cannot afford to pay $20,000. We have appealed that the fee either be scrapped or reduced,” he said.
School owners raised the matter with President Jakaya Kikwete in Mbeya last year, and were still waiting for a response, Mr Nkonya added.
He said Tomongsco members told the President that they had no option but to hire foreign teachers to work in private English medium schools due to a shortage of local tutors.
Mr Nkonya also accused police and immigration officers of mistreating and humiliating foreign teachers, saying some had been handcuffed in front of their pupils and bundled into police vehicles.
“This is not only humiliating, it also had an adverse psychological effect on pupils, especially those who were sitting the Standard Seven national examination,” he said.
However, the country’s ministry of Education and Vocational Training said it was not in a position to help private school owners who have employed illegal immigrants.
Ministry spokesperson Bunyanzu Ntambi said foreign teachers should not expect preferential treatment and must abide by immigration regulations.
“Foreign teachers are not exempt from immigration regulations. There is not much the ministry can do. It is up to school owners to think how best they can handle the situation,” he said.
But Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Said Meck Sadick said foreign nationals found with expired work permits would not be immediately deported, and would be given an opportunity to renew them.
He said 527 illegal immigrants had been arrested since the operation began in the city on September 1.
In another development, criminals have been cashing in since the operation began in Dar es Salaam early this month.
Gangs masquerading as immigration officers have been extorting bribes from illegal immigrants by threatening them with arrest and prosecution.