Education in Tanzania
Tanzania Mainland lies between 10 and 120 south of equator and between 290 and 410 east of the Greenwich Meridian. It shares a border with Kenya and Uganda to the north and Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia to the south. To the east lies the Indian Ocean while Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo are to the west. Tanzania has a landmass of 881,000 square kilometres and a population of 39.5 million people. The population consists of people from about 120 different tribes, each with its own language. However Kiswahili is spoken by all tribes and is the national language as well as the main language of official communication while English is the second official language. Kiswahili is the medium of instruction in primary schools while English is used as the medium of instruction in secondary schools and in post-secondary education. Christianity and Islam are the main religions practised by more than 90 percent of the population, but each has many different sects. Tanzania was a British protectorate for 42 years, that is, from 1918 to 1960 before it became independent in 1961. It is a multiparty state and enjoys strong friendship and cooperation with its neighbours mainly through its membership to the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).
Agriculture is the mainstay of Tanzania’s economy, and it contributed 47.5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2002. Other main economic activities contributing to the GDP are construction (5.0%), manufacturing (8.4%), mining and quarrying (2.7 %), trade, hotels, restaurants including tourism 16.6%), transport and communication (5.5%), financial, insurance, real estate, and business services (10.0%), public and other services (7.3%) electricity and water (1.6%).
Income disparity is large and there are many families, especially in rural areas, that depend on subsistence farming. About 50 percent of the population lives below the poverty datum line. The national transport system is being reworked through construction of trunk roads which when complete will connect almost all regional towns.
*latest data as of March 2009 from UNESCO Institute for Statistics.
There are 21 regions (as of 2002) that make up Tanzania Mainland, namely Arusha, Manyara, Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Iringa, Kagera, Kigoma, Kilimanjaro, Lindi, Mara, Mbeya, Morogoro, Mtwara, Mwanza, Pwani, Rukwa, Ruvuma, Shinyanga, Singida, Tabora, and Tanga. These regions vary considerably in their topography, population density, main economic activities, infrastructure and other essential characteristics. Some background information on each one of them is provided below.
Arusha: This is a region which hosts the headquarters of the East Africa Community. It has ten districts and it is thinly populated. It is primarily rural and has most of the country’s national parks. There is animal husbandry and tanzanite mining. Tourism is very intensive due to fact that the region has the most renowned national parks including Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Manyara, and has a very good infrastructure.
Dar es Salaam: This region includes Dar es Salaam, the largest city that has three municipalities. It is the most densely populated region in the country, and is almost entirely urban. Dar es Salaam has excellent infrastructure, and is accessible by air, road, railway and water. It has a cosmopolitan population which is a mixture of national ethnic groups, mainly workers, and different races. It has a good concentration of light industry, and is the biggest commercial centre in the country, with a lot of tourism. The demand for education is very high here due to the constant influx of people who are in search of the many opportunities offered by this relatively well developed region.
Dodoma: The region houses Dodoma, the capital city of Tanzania. It comprises four districts. Although Dodoma is largely rural and semi arid, it is densely populated. Animal husbandry is practised on an intensive scale, with some subsistence farming. The region’s infrastructure is good.
Iringa: This region is mountainous. It has five districts and it is rural. Both commercial and subsistence farming are practised on an intensive scale. The big tea estates often tempt pockets of children to work in them instead of attending school. The infrastructure is good.
Kagera: This is a peripheral, rural region located in the north-western part of the country. It comprises five districts that share a border with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. Kagera region is densely populated, and its inhabitants practise subsistence and commercial farming. There is coffee and sugarcane industry as well as some tin mining. There are refugee camps and the intensive activities of the refugees characterised by farming and tree cutting (for firewood) have resulted in severe land degradation in the areas surrounding the camps. The infrastructure is good.
Kigoma: This is a peripheral, rural region with three districts that are located in the western part of the country, sharing a border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi. It is thinly populated. Its inhabitants engage in subsistence and commercial farming. As is the case with Kagera, in Kigoma there are refugee camps that have caused severe land degradation in areas surrounding the camps. The infrastructure is fair.
Kilimanjaro: This region is largely rural, and is made up of five districts. It is largely mountainous, with Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa, situated in this region. It is very densely populated and is agriculturally very productive. in the most common economic activities are subsistence and commercial farming, with coffee estates, bananas, and maize being the main products. There is also some tourism and limestone mining. This region has good infrastructure.
Lindi: This region is located in the south of the country, and has six districts. It is largely rural and is densely populated. The main economic activities in this region are cashew nuts production, sisal growing, fishing, and salt making. The infrastructure is fair.
Mara: Bordering Lake Victoria, this region is largely rural with districts. It is densely populated, and here we find intensive agriculture, animal husbandry and fishing. There is some gold mining. The infrastructure is good, and the region is easily accessible by air and by road.
Mbeya: This region is largely rural, and is made up of eight districts. It is partly mountainous but is densely populated. It is agriculturally very productive, with coffee, rice, pyrethrum, maize and bananas as the main crops grown. There is also some gold and iron ore mining. The infrastructure is very good, and the region is accessible by road, railway and air.
Morogoro: This region is mountainous and largely rural, with five districts. It is thinly populated but agriculturally rich. The main crop grown is sugarcane. There is also some mica mining. The infrastructure is fair except in the mountains where access is problematic.
Mtwara: This region is largely rural and is densely populated. It is made up of five districts. Inhabitants of this region engage in the production of cashew nuts, sisal growing, fishing, and salt making. The infrastructure is fair.
Mwanza: Bordering Lake Victoria, this region is largely rural with seven districts and is very densely populated. Here, we find intensive agriculture with a lot of animal husbandry in addition to fishing and gold mining. The infrastructure is very good, and the region is accessible by air, railway, train, and by road.
Pwani: This region is largely rural and has four districts. It is thinly populated, with some mica mining and subsistence farming. The infrastructure is good.
Rukwa: Rukwa Region is rural, and has four districts. There is intensive farming, but mainly of a subsistence nature. Some iron ore mining also takes place here. The infrastructure is fair.
Ruvuma: This region is largely rural and is partly mountainous. It has five districts, and practises intensive agriculture. There is also some iron ore mining. The infrastructure is good.
Shinyanga: This region is largely a rural lowland with five districts. It is densely populated and is agriculturally very productive. Inhabitants of Shinyanga engage in subsistence and commercial faming, with rice, cotton and animal husbandry as the main economic activities. There is also diamond and gold mining. The infrastructure is good.
Singida: The region is largely rural, and has eight districts. It is partly mountainous, agriculturally productive, and densely populated. There is gold and iron ore mining too, and its infrastructure is good.
Tabora: This region is largely rural, thinly populated and has five districts. Tobacco, cotton and some subsistence farming and animal husbandry constitute the main occupation of inhabitants. The infrastructure is good.
Tanga: This region is largely rural and has six districts. It is highly populated and intensive agriculture is practised, with a mixture of subsistence and commercial farming. There are sisal and tea plantations, cotton and coffee growing, fishing and some tourism. The infrastructure is good.
Minister of Education & Vocational Training: Hon. Jumanne MAGHEMBE
Usually Standard 1 and 2 have classroom teachers while the others have subject-matter teachers. Thus, from Standard 3 onwards, pupils are allocated a classroom and the teachers move from classroom to classroom for the different lessons.
There are 194 school days per year. Each day a pupil should receive between three and four hours of school learning per day (that is, 8 lesson periods of 40 minutes each for Standards 3 to 7 and 30 minutes each for Standards 1 and 2). It is Ministry requirement that teachers give homework, exercises as well as tests, and that they correct them regularly. However, the conditions in some pupils’ homes are not conducive for doing homework and so it remains unclear how much homework is actually done. At the end of Standard 7 pupils sit for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). The examination acts as a selection examination for entry into secondary school. In addition they are awarded a certificate for having reached Standard 7.
Each school should be fully inspected by an inspector at least once every 2 years. The inspectorate has been reformed to perform inspectoral as well as advisory functions. There are accurate records of the actual number of visits by inspectors to schools in each district.
A Regional Education Officer (called Regional Education Specialist from 2002) coordinates all regional education matters. A District/Municipal Education Officer heads District/Municipal education office, while the Ministry has overall responsibility for the running of the education system and each district/municipal office is responsible for the school buildings in its area as well as for the supply of equipment and materials to the schools. The Ministry has a national inspectorate whose task is to conduct a full inspection of each school in the country once every two years. Each district office also has a team of school inspectors whose task is to visit each school in the district at least twice a year and to advise and help all teachers with their teaching. There are no regional school inspectors but rather zonal school inspectors who visit schools, mainly secondary schools, and teachers colleges. Some of the zones, districts and wards have also established Educational Resource Centres. However, those at ward level, although closest to the teachers, are few and are in their infancy, and there is very limited information about how they are operating. The Ward Based Education Management (WABEM) and Child Friendly Schools (CFS) initiatives aim to revitalize and consolidate the existing ones, and to establish some where none exist.
See the SACMEQ reports for more information.
SACMEQ II (2000) Reading achievement
SACMEQ II (2000) Math achievement
For more country statistics, see also: