Education in Tanzania
At this point in the conversation I recognised the importance that the CASEC team placed on education, and I wanted to probe deeper: “What are your views on the current education system in Tanzania?”
There was a murmur of conversation amongst the CASEC team, then a member voiced: “there is a low level of awareness on the importance of education here, but we do feel that education reforms in Tanzania are moving in the right direction.”
We spoke about the 2015 Fee Free Education Policy which emphasised the provision of free education. Fees were scrapped, along with any required financial contributions from parents.
In the last three years, there has been a marked increase in enrolment into Tanzania’s more than 16,000 primary schools. The student population has doubled to around 8 million pupils which is causing an infrastructure crisis. So, while more children are receiving an education, the quality of the education is much poorer as teachers and resources are increasingly being put under heavy strain. There is a shortage of books, classroom space, school meal provision and teachers (especially for the sciences). As a result, many pupils do not gain the most basic skills in literacy and numeracy by the time they leave.
“There could be 1 teacher for 171 pupils, we need a new education act which fits to the current education sector,” Simon explained.
A colleague of Simon’s spoke up: “it takes time to turn the situation around in order to achieve best practices such as agreements between parents and teachers on providing school meals and how to effectively track truancy and performance.” This naturally led us to start talking about our Equal Rights to Quality Education project.
Equal Rights to Quality Education: Overview
In 2014, we launched our Equal Rights to Quality Education (ERP), which brings lasting change to 70 rural primary and secondary schools in 6 districts in northern Tanzania. A key aspect of the project is to improve access to education through community sensitisation (specifically meetings and training), and increased communication between parents, teachers and village leaders.
We are also striving to strengthen the quality of teaching; our partners provide training, mentoring, and support to teachers in project schools. Health clubs are very important for helping increase children’s awareness of issues surrounding issues such as sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies. And, overall, the project is tackling the low transition rate from primary to secondary school (currently 46%) by addressing barriers to education, particularly for girls, which includes parents’ preference for forced marriage in exchange for a dowry.