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Education in Tanzania

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Title: Education in Tanzania  
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Education in Tanzania

Education in Tanzania is provided both by the public sector and the private sector. The general structure is as follows:[1]

  • 2 years of pre-primary education for ages 5–6 (year 1 and 2)
  • 7 years of primary education for ages 7–13 (Standard I-VII)
  • 4 years of secondary ordinary level education for ages 14–17 (Form 1-4)
  • 2 years of secondary advanced level education for ages 18–19 (Form 5 and 6)
  • 3 or more years of university education


  • Pre-primary education 1
  • Primary education 2
    • Elimination of tuition 2.1
    • Enrollment and teaching statistics 2.2
    • Curriculum and language of instruction 2.3
    • National examinations 2.4
    • Pupil achievement levels 2.5
    • History 2.6
  • Secondary education 3
    • Levels 3.1
    • Private schools 3.2
    • Tuition and fees 3.3
    • Enrollment and teaching statistics 3.4
    • National examinations 3.5
    • Language of instruction 3.6
    • Curriculum 3.7
  • Student life 4
  • Education sector national budget 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Pre-primary education

Each child who is not less than five years of age is eligible for enrollment for pre-primary education for a period of two years.[2] Attendance is not compulsory.[3]

Primary education

Government primary schools teach in Kiswahili. A number of private primary schools, with substantial attendance fees, teach in English.

A village primary school in Karatu district, Tanzania

It is compulsory for every child who has reached the age of seven years to be enrolled for primary education.[3][4][5]

Elimination of tuition

Primary school tuition in public schools was eliminated in 2002, but families still must pay for uniforms, testing fees, and school supplies.[6]

Enrollment and teaching statistics

Free tuition has led to a massive increase in the number of children enrolled in primary schools,[6] from 4,839,361 in 2001 to 7,959,884 in 2006 to 8,410,000 in 2008.[3][7]

This increase has not been accompanied by a proportional increase in resources for teachers, classrooms, and books.[8] The ratio of pupils to qualified teachers nationwide in 2010 was 54:1, which was 35% above the goal of 40:1. Every region exceeded the goal except for Kilimanjaro and Dar es Salaam.[9] Only three percent of students in Standard VI nationwide had sole use of a mathematics textbook in 2007 compared to seven percent in 2000.[6]

In 2006, the gross primary enrollment rate was 110.3%, and the net primary enrollment rate was 97.8%.[10] The "gross primary enrollment rate" is the ratio of the total number of students attending primary school to the official primary school-age population. The "net primary enrollment rate" is the ratio of the total number of primary school-age children enrolled in primary school to the official primary school-age population. These rates are based on the number of students formally registered in primary school and, therefore, do not necessarily reflect actual school attendance.[8] In 2000, 57% of children age 5–14 years attended school.[10]

Curriculum and language of instruction

The Tanzania Institute of Education is the main body responsible for developing the curriculum. It prepares programmes, syllabi, and pedagogical materials such as handbooks and laboratory manuals. It also specifies standards for educational materials, trains teachers in curriculum innovations, monitors curriculum implementation in schools, and evaluates and approves manuscripts intended for school use.[3]

The curriculum is composed of twelve subjects: Kiswahili, mathematics, science, geography, civics, history, English language, vocational subjects, French, religion, information and communication technology, and school sports. The focus of the curriculum is the development of the following competencies among learners: critical and creative thinking, communication, numeracy, technology literacy, personal and social life skills, and independent learning.[3]

Except for eight schools, Kiswahili in 2010 was the medium of instruction in the 15,816 public primary schools nationwide. In contrast, English was the medium of instruction in 539 of the 551 registered private primary schools.[11]

National examinations

Until 1973, a student was required to pass the National Standard IV Exams to continue to Standard V.[12] The exams are still given even though passing is no longer required. The pass rate was 70.6% in 2001, 88.7% in 2003, and 78.5% in 2007.[3]

Under current law, a student must pass the Primary School Leaving Examination at the end of Standard VII to receive a primary school certificate and be eligible to attend public secondary school. In 2009, 49.4% of the 999,070 students who sat for these exams received passing marks.[13] The pass rate has declined alarmingly from over 70% in 2006.[14] The Dar es Salaam region had the highest pass rate (69.8%) while Shinyanga region had the lowest (31.9%).[13] There was a significant disparity in the national pass rate for males (55.6%) versus females (43.2%).[13] This disparity existed to some degree in every region except Kilimanjaro.[13] Kiswahili was the subject that had the highest number of passing marks (69.1%). Mathematics had the lowest passing rate at 21.0%. Of those who passed the exams in 2009, 90.4% were selected to join public secondary schools for the year 2010.[13] There was not enough room in those schools to accommodate everyone who passed.

Pupil achievement levels

In 2000, 82.8% of children in Standard VI on the Tanzanian mainland were at or above reading level 4, "independent reading",[15] which was fourth highest among 14 countries and regions in southern and eastern Africa (Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, Tanzania (mainland), Zambia, Zanzibar).[16] Although only 39.5% of those children were at or above mathematics level 4, "beginning numeracy", that was fifth highest among those countries and regions.[15]

In 2007, the reading achievement level of Standard VI children in Tanzania was higher than that of children in any other country in southern and eastern Africa (Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania (including Zanzibar), Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe).[17] The mathematics achievement level of Tanzanian children in Standard VI in 2007 was third highest, behind only Mauritius and Kenya.[17]


The Tanzanian government's commitment to education as an integral part of its social and economic development started shortly after independence. Before independence, educational access was very restricted. The Arusha Declaration was followed in 1967 by the policy document "Education for Self-Reliance", in which education was assigned a seminal role in the transformation of Tanzania to an African socialist society. Universal primary education (UPE) was emphasized in the Musoma Declaration of 1974 as a way of transforming rural society and agriculture, from which it was acknowledged the vast majority of the population would derive their livelihood.[18]

By the early 1980s, external shocks (oil crises, low coffee prices, drought, and war with Uganda) and deficient economic policy caused an economic crisis that needed to be resolved through economic restructuring and recovery. Tanzania's relationship, however, with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was tense because of differing perspectives on the root causes of the economic crisis and how to handle it. Tanzanian policy makers attributed the crisis to exogenous shocks, while the World Bank and the IMF stressed deficient economic policies and institutions as the root cause. For the education sector, this period saw a huge reduction in resources that lead to a reversal of progress made towards UPE during the 1970s and declining quantity and quality at all levels of education.[18]

Despite subsequent progress from the economic reform efforts of the late 1980s and 1990s, social indicators were stagnating, including progress towards UPE. In 1995, the Ministry of Education prepared an Education and Training Master Plan. This was updated and further elaborated in a new phase of government policy embodied in the Education Sector Development Program (ESDP) of 1997 (revised in 2001), a program formulated to run from 1998 to 2007 and to have large scale impact that would accelerate progress on stagnating education indicators. The government also committed to the goals listed in the World Declaration on Education for All: Meeting Basic Learning Needs,[19] which was issued in Jomtien, Thailand in 2000.[20]

Within the larger ESDP, the government, together with civil society stakeholders and donors, formulated a Primary Education Development Program (PEDP) that took effect 2 January 2002 and ran to 2009. The World Bank supported the PEDP with a US$150 million Sector Adjustment Credit in 2001, which was supplemented by a US$50 million contribution by the Netherlands. The objectives of the PEDP were to: (1) expand school access; (2) improve education quality; and (3) increase school retention at the primary level. These objectives would be achieved through improved resource allocation and utilization, improved educational inputs, and strengthened institutional arrangements for effective primary education delivery. The PEDP introduced, among other reforms, Capitation and Development Grants for direct disbursement to primary schools.[21]

The government's National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (2005) included a focus on education as part of its second cluster that deals with social well being and quality of life.[20]

Secondary education


Secondary education has two levels. Ordinary Level (O' Level) is Form 1 through Form 4. After Form 4, a certificate is issued to all passing the Certificate of Secondary Education Examinations. Selected students may progress to Advanced Level (A' Level) education - Forms 5 and 6 - or study for an ordinary diploma in a technical college. Not all schools offer A' Level classes. All students at this level are boarding students. Because of the potential problems associated with boarding both male and female students, A' Level schools restrict enrollment to one sex.

Secondary School Classroom
Msaranga Secondary School

Private schools

Passing the Standard VII exam is not a requirement to continue education, but anyone who fails is not selected to join a government secondary school. This creates a substantial market for private schools. Some private schools cater to the economically privileged who wish for better school resources, additional courses such as computer training, and smaller class sizes. Other private schools cater toward those who have not been selected for government schools.

Tuition and fees

Government secondary schools charge tuition of about 20,000 Tanzanian shillings (TSH) per year (around US$12). Several fees are charged in addition to tuition, including testing fees, caution fees, watchman contribution, academic contribution, furniture contribution, identity fee, emblem fee, and fee for lunches. The government tries to keep education affordable while maintaining quality as high as possible. The number of government secondary schools, which includes community or ward based schools, has increased dramatically over the past few years, stretching scarce resources and teachers but offering an affordable education to many more students. Still, tuition and fees are burdensome to many families, especially large families, single parent families, and orphans. Families where the parents do not yet appreciate the value of education, especially for girls, is often enough to keep them from agreeing to pay for schooling.

Private secondary school annual tuitions vary from approximately TSH 200,000 (around US$150) to TSH 32 million (around US$20,000). A typical private school tuition is around TSH 700,000 ($525 USD).

Students Tending School Crops
Students tending school crops

Enrollment and teaching statistics

In 2008, the total enrollment in Forms 1-4 was 1,164,250 students, and in Forms 5–6 it was 58,153 students. The total number of teachers was 32,835 and the total number of schools was 3,485. In the same year, the gross enrollment rate for Forms 1–4 was estimated at 36.2 percent, and the net enrollment rate was estimated at 24.4 percent. The figures for Form 5 and 6 were 4.0 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.[3]

In 2012, the total enrollment in Forms 5–6 was 78,438 students.[22]:page: 59 The total number of teachers was 65,086.[22]:page: 61

The secondary schools that perform highest in the national examinations employ better-trained teachers, including experienced graduates. Higher pay and efficient school management attract the higher qualified teachers to non-government schools and seminaries. Of all teachers who have a university degree, 58 percent work in non-government schools, and of all Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science graduates with education degrees, 75 percent are absorbed in this sector. Most of the rest teach in government schools, with the result that very few are in the community-built schools.[3]

National examinations

A national standardized exam is given at the end of Form 2, although there is no consequence for failing it.[23]

Another national standardized exam, the Certificate of Secondary Education Examination, is given at the end of Form 4. A student who passes is given a school-leaving certificate by his or her school. The student is also given an academic certificate by the National Examination Council of Tanzania. This certificate indicates the student's level of performance in several subjects, with division I being the best performance and division IV being the worst.[3]

Secondary education ends when a student passes the Advanced Certificate of Secondary Education Examination and receives a diploma after completing Form 6.[3] Depending on the test results, the student may then be selected to enroll in a university.

Language of instruction

By law, all secondary education must be taught in English (except Kiswahili class).[15] For many students, however, English is their third language. Even though Kiswahili is the national language, there are approximately 120 languages spoken in Tanzania. Especially in rural areas, a tribal language is often the first language learned by children.

In 2009, only 35.4% of students sitting for the National Standard VII Exam received passing marks in English.[24] Students who do not pass this exam in English could still attend school where English is the primary language of instruction, making the use of English in secondary school teaching controversial. Those in favour of English-instruction secondary schools argue that the ability to speak English prepares students to work in the global economy. Those opposed argue that English-language instruction leaves students out and detracts from students concentrating on the subject matter.


The curriculum of secondary education consists of optional subjects plus core and compulsory subjects.

The core and compulsory subjects in Form 1 and 2 that are offered by all schools include mathematics, English, physics with chemistry, Kiswahili, biology, history, geography, civics and religion. The optional subjects in Form 1 and 2 include home economics, information and computer studies, additional mathematics, music, fine arts, French, Arabic, other foreign languages, Islamic studies, Bible knowledge, and physical education. Students may choose none or any one or two of the listed subjects if offered at their school.[3]

The core subjects in Form 3 and 4 offered by all schools include mathematics, English, Kiswahili, biology, civics, religion, history, geography, and physics and chemistry. The optional subjects in Form 3 and 4 include home economics, information and computer studies, additional mathematics, music, fine arts, French, Arabic, Islamic studies, Bible knowledge, and physical education.[3]

The minimum number of subjects required for the Certificate of Secondary Education Examinations is seven. All candidates are tested in mathematics, English, Kiswahili, biology, and civics.[3]

Student life

Sports competitions had been an important part of after school activities. This stopped in 2000 but has just been reorganised in 2009. There are after-school activities such as debates and religious groups. At all but the most expensive schools, students take part in school maintenance or tasks such as gathering firewood for the school kitchen, grounds maintenance and tending school crops.

Lack of a proper study environment at home, their inability to master the English language, poor nutrition/health and other economic related issues are the biggest obstacles students must overcome. It has also been reported that mass fainting is commonplace among schoolgirls, especially at girls' secondary schools.[25]

Education sector national budget

For fiscal year 2011/2012, which began 1 July 2011, the education sector national budget is 2,283 billion Tanzanian shillings, which equates to US$1.45 billion (at an exchange rate of 1,591 shillings per dollar). This is an 11.6% increase over the amount budgeted for fiscal year 2010/2011. After accounting for inflation, however, the increase is approximately 1%.[26]

Based on actual performance in recent fiscal years, the amount budgeted for the Tanzanian Ministry of Education and Vocational Training is typically much more than the amount spent. In fiscal year 2008/2009, the ministry spent 85.1 billion shillings out of the 128.5 billion budgeted. The gap between budgeted and spent has increased since then. In fiscal year 2010/2011, the ministry spent only 76.8 billion out of the 139.7 billion budgeted.

A total of Shs. 155.1 billion was unspent in the last three years. This amount could be sufficient to build 3,875 houses for teachers according to the estimated costs of building one house at Shs. 40 million as outlined by ... [phase 2 of the Secondary Education Development Program]. By building these houses we could have reduced the problem of teachers lacking accommodation, especially for schools situated in remote rural villages.[26]

The education sector was budgeted to consume 20% of the national budget in fiscal year 2008/2009. That share decreased to 17% in fiscal year 2011/2012.[26]

Funds budgeted in fiscal year 2011/2012 for development, such as constructing buildings and teachers' houses, consume only 10.2% of the total amount budgeted for the education sector. This compares to 20-24% in Uganda and 14-15% in Kenya.[26]

See also


  1. ^ Education in , Tanzania Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, June 2010, page ivBasic Education Statistics in Tanzania: 2006-2010
  2. ^ Parliament of Tanzania, The National Education Act, 1978, Section 35A, as added by the Parliament of Tanzania, the Education (Amendment) Act, 1995, Section 28
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "World Data on Education: VII Ed. 2010/11", United Republic of Tanzania, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, revised August 2010, page 13
  4. ^ The Parliament of Tanzania, The National Education Act, 1978, Section 35(1), as amended by The Parliament of Tanzania, the Education (Amendment) Act, 1995, Section 27(a)
  5. ^ ,2010 Human Rights Report: Tanzania Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State
  6. ^ a b c , Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality, October 2011Policy Brief: Quality of Primary School Inputs in Tanzania Mainland
  7. ^ "Secondary Education in Tanzania: Key Policy Challenges", Working Paper 06.4, Suleman Sumra & Rakesh Rajani, HakiElimu, page 1
  8. ^ a b "Tanzania". 2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor. Bureau of International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor (2006). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  9. ^ Table 2.16
  10. ^ a b ,2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor, 2009
  11. ^ Table 2.19
  12. ^ "Policies on Free Primary and Secondary Education in East Africa: A Review of the Literature," Consortium for Research on Educational Access, Transitions and Equity, Moses O. Oketch and Caine M. Rolleston, June 2007, page 5
  13. ^ a b c d e Table 2.12
  14. ^ Chart 2.4
  15. ^ a b c , Table 7.3(a), Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality, 2005, pages 198-201The SACMEQ II Project in Tanzania: A Study of the Conditions of Schooling and the Quality of Education
  16. ^ Compiled from the webpage of each country and region listed
  17. ^ a b , Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality, September 2010What are the levels and trends in reading and mathematics achievement?
  18. ^ a b "Project Performance Assessment Report: Tanzania", World Bank, Report No. 55383, 28 June 2010, pages 2-3
  19. ^ World Declaration on Education For All: Meeting Basic Learning Needs
  20. ^ a b "Project Performance Assessment Report: Tanzania", World Bank, Report No. 55383, 28 June 2010, page 3
  21. ^ "Project Performance Assessment Report: Tanzania", World Bank, Report No. 55383, 28 June 2010, page xii
  22. ^ a b Tanzania in figures 2012, National Bureau of Statistics, Ministry of Finance, June 2013
  23. ^ "Tanzania: Form two national exams to be scrapped", In2EastAfrica, 23 October 2011
  24. ^ Education and Vocational Training Minister, Prof. Jumanne Maghembe quote from The Guardian Newspaper, 11 December 2009.
  25. ^ "Mass fainting in Tanzanian exam". BBC News. BBC. 2008-09-11. Retrieved 2008-09-11. 
  26. ^ a b c d "Education Sector Budget 2011/2012: Is there any hope for improving education?", Brief 11:6E, HakiElimu

External links

  • Ministry of Education and Vocational Training
  • Education Statistics and Quality of Education in Tanzania, Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ)
  • Tanzania National Website - Education
  • Tanzania Education and Information Services
  • Tanzania Education Network
  • Tanzania Education Fund
  • Liwalo na Liwe Foundation
  • Tanzania Educational Advancement Through Export Marketing
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