Tanzania: Addressing education challenges through priority reforms

Read how GPE is working with the government of Tanzania and partners to address persistent challenges and achieve transformational change in its education system by drawing on the breadth and strength of the partnership.

Student with textbook, Kasakola Primary School, Mpanda, Katavi, Tanzania. Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
Student with textbook, Kasakola Primary School, Mpanda, Katavi, Tanzania.
Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch

Tanzania has made significant progress in achieving the goals of basic education for all, especially with respect to increasing enrollment over the past 10 years, but student learning is lagging due to large class sizes.

The government and partners are working to address persistent challenges, including poor school conditions, teacher shortages, and teacher effectiveness, in systemic and sustainable ways.

GPE is supporting Tanzania to achieve transformational change in its education system by drawing on the breadth and strength of the partnership. In line with GPE's operating model – GPE 2025 – the government established an inclusive task force to review sector performance, develop a deeper understanding of obstacles to reform, and identify priority reform areas.

Stella Mayenje
“I think the greatest strength of the GPE approach is the partnership. We had to identify all the interventions that we had within the country. It wasn’t easy for us to agree on the priorities, but we had to do that to work together. Through the process we noted that it’s possible to agree on priorities, and it’s possible to finance these priorities together.”
Stella Mayenje
National Program Officer for Education, Swedish International Development Agency

Priority reform: Teacher workforce planning and management

Based on the country-led assessment underpinned by sector dialogue, the government and its partners agreed on three priority reform areas: teacher workforce planning and management; gender equality and inclusion; and the teaching and learning environment.

Teacher workforce planning and management has been identified as the overarching priority due to its potential transformative effect on the other reform areas.

A key element of GPE 2025 is the development of a Partnership Compact, which articulates how the government intends to work with partners on its priority reforms. The compact also serves as the basis for determining GPE grant resources by partners and mobilizing additional resources.

“I would like to express my gratitude for the continued collaboration between the government and education stakeholders, which has culminated in the successful development of this Partnership Compact. The compact sets forth key priority interventions that have potential to transform education outcomes in the country and hence stakeholders support was key in its development and will continue to be highly needed in its implementation. Development partners, including GPE, are keen to align their resources towards the proposed intervention measures, hence I am hopeful the compact outcome will be achieved.”
Dr. Francis Michael
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Tanzania

Ultimately, Tanzania is working to ensure that all children are enrolled in the appropriate levels of education and are achieving the desired knowledge and basic skills.

The Partnership Compact will contribute to this goal by improving teaching and learning, starting with getting the right number of well-motivated teachers, with the right skills, deployed to the places where they are needed. Planned interventions aim to:

  • Strengthen teacher planning
  • Improve teacher education curricula at all levels
  • Improve teacher recruitment and deployment strategies
  • Sustain teacher continuous professional development processes
  • Improve teacher motivation and accountability.

To further catalyze transformative change in Tanzania's basic education system, a focus on gender equality and inclusion aims to improve female participation in education and support students and teachers with special needs; and a focus on the school teaching and learning environment aims to improve budget allocation and availability of teaching and learning materials and facilities.

Lawrence Sanga
“Developing the interventions comes from our own realization of our core problems. [The GPE approach] is problem driven. That’s excellent.”
Lawrence Sanga
Senior Education Officer, Policy and Planning Department, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Tanzania

Moving forward on the pathway to system transformation

Tanzania – a GPE partner since 2013 – is building on years of having implemented a results-based program, which has already resulted in big gains: improved girls’ transition rates from primary to lower secondary school and a recent reversal of a policy banning pregnant girls from attending school are examples of system-wide progress.

But the country recognizes the need to accelerate progress and believes achievement of its objectives relies on harmonized efforts supporting inclusive teaching for quality learning.

Tanzania’s Partnership Compact is a living document and will be updated as needed. Throughout implementation, updates to the compact will draw on ongoing sector planning and policy processes to ensure priorities are aligned to national plans and policies. A mid-term review will assess progress in key areas of the compact.

The compact includes monitoring, evaluation and learning elements for tracking progress in the reform area, which enables course correction as more is learned about what is happening in the system. With partners and resources aligned behind priority reforms, Tanzania has strengthened its commitment to providing students with quality learning.

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These developments are positive. However, they make no mention of the role of the language of instruction in reducing school achievement. As in countries elsewhere in Africa, many learners in Tanzania do not speak the language of instruction (often English, sometimes even Kiswahili) well enough to use it as a language of learning. Research in Tanzania - and elsewhere in Africa - is replete with reliable data on this. It is a first-order issue: until it is handled properly in ministerial language-in-education policy, in syllabus and materials design and in teacher-education, teachers will continue to find it hard to teach; learners will find it hard to learn. Developments in education which do not face head-on the necessity for learners to learn in a bilingual classroom will not make much of an impact on individual and school achievement and projects such as this one will be stymied

Bare in mind that in primary schools the language used is swahili so the students have poor English vocabulary for them to be able to understand that complex sentences in secondary school books they should be revised, THANKS

I am not a teacher, I was born in Tanzania although I don't live there and I am just adding my views here as I was thinking how important education is to development this morning. Important enough to begin research and educate myself on the status of education in Tanzania. I was dismayed to learn that there are barriers to education for children and young people in Tanzania. My views are this: 1. Spending, policies and work on education and health has to be priorities for Tanzanians. I cannot quite conceive how training and renumeration for teachers as it is now can be acceptable. So this is a priority for the Government of Tanzania to prioritise education training for teachers, retain teachers by significant increase in salaries and quality housing and teaching conditions, really build schools with proper facilities and with proper equipment and raise standards in curriculum and learning. Pour all efforts and money into educating children and the young in order to see significant improvements in all outcomes and economic productivity and prospecrity in the long term.

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